No man is an island

When you come from abroad, it takes some time to find where you belong. For me abroad meant coming from a different country and from a corporate world to join academia in Helsinki. In January 2016, I left my position as a Sales Manager in St. Petersburg and headed to Helsinki to join a research community at Hanken as a new PhD student.


Lauttasaari, a beautiful island and my home in Helsinki. My endless source of inspiration. 


Back then I felt quite certain about the business challenge that I wanted to explore in my doctoral studies. In my sales manager role I was struggling to understand why so many leads (potential customer contacts) created by marketing department were avoided by sales representatives. I was also wondering if they ever got contacted and if not, what were the consequences for the company. Although I had some understanding of the challenge, little did I know how to relate my sphere of interest to the larger academic context. I was also questioning how my topic fitted under the Hanken research umbrella. I was in search of theories to explain my practical observations and paradigms (certain ways of thinking about the topic) where to place my research. Simply put, I was struggling to find where I belong in the academic world. After all, as John Donne put it as early as in the 17th century “no man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”. Neither is a researcher, so I wanted to see how my topic related to the main and was a part of something bigger.

It was not until this fall semester, my 4th semester of studies, when I finally was able to see the bigger picture behind the topic of my research. This September I attended my last doctoral course at Hanken, that helped me see where I stand.  Something clicked in my mind when I was going through the assisgned readings for the Service and Relationship Management course. And it bacame even more clear to me during the classroom discussions that I found the logic missing in my research – service logic and customer dominant logic. These two logics focus on how customers perceive what the companies offer and how they interact with them. These two logics gave me a new range of questions to ask myself when I am thinking about seller’s interactions with the customer. And by starting to think about these new questions I was finally able to relate to research Hanken does on service. Now, I believe I found the logic to which I can relate to when connecting, “bridging” my research to the bigger whole.

Although no man or researcher is an island, you can still happily live on one, as CERS anna_abramova.jpglong as you know where the bridge to the mainland is located. I believe, I finally found my place in Helsinki, both in the research community and geographically. So, every day on my PhD studies journey I start on the island of Lauttasaari and commute to the mainland Helsinki to explore the city and my research field further.


Anna Abramova

Doctoral Student