“We will all grow to expect the expected.”
Where are you from?
I was originally born in Paarl, South Africa. This is not far from the most beautiful city in the Southern Cape, namely Cape Town. My family was heavily involved in the wine industry, but my plans took another path. Music has been a passion since the age of six and much of my youth was devoted to this. Time was mainly spent on writing and performing live for numerous bands across the country. However, a short digression saw me at University studying Botany and Zoology, Nature Conservation, and then Business Management, prior to leaving the continent for Europe.
How long have you been living in Hungary and what brought you here?
In one of my positions as a key account manager for a firm in Frankfurt Germany, my job required me to travel across Europe. The position required scouting hotels that wanted to outsource their audio-visual departments and related elements of convention sales departments. That brought me to Budapest for the first time and I just fell in love with the city. Since then, I have been there on numerous occasions for a mix of private and work-related reasons. Currently, I reside in Vienna but look for any reason to go back and visit the city.
What did you study and what is your special field of teaching?
As mentioned previously, my academic career started in the Natural Sciences; where my majors were Zoology and Botany; i.e. the study of animals and plants and then further on to nature conservation, which is sort of the broader field encompassing environmental conservation. I then went on to study for a Diploma in Business Management before leaving for Europe. It was in Germany that I started my MBA through the Open University. After completion and a move to Switzerland, I earned my Ph.D. at Queen Margaret University in Educational Psychology. More specifically, I was interested in transformative learning, in other words, looking for answers to triggers, things in life, that act as catalysts to change the way people think about themselves and the world around them in more critical ways. Over the years of teaching in Switzerland, my specialty areas in teaching have become consumer behaviour, consumerology, business of hotels, and research methods.
What is the most challenging issue right now in that field?
Even though consumer behaviour as a subject was the off-shoot of marketing decades ago, it has now, in an experiential economy, become ever so more important to understand changes in the processes of buying behaviour. Not only have our patterns of buying changed due to mobile purchasing; an over-exposure to purchasing channels has increased exponentially. It is again becoming ever so challenging and important to understand what, how, when, and for whom a customer buys. Even though data is available that tracks a customer user-experience through any given company’s channels; it is the underlying psychological principles that are becoming more difficult to understand. Access to understand this is via the end-user is a field of research that remains murky.
I also would like to ask you about your IBS experiences. How long have you been teaching at IBS?
I have been at IBS on a part-time contract since February this year. It continues to be an amazing experience with truly bright and amicable students, and an amazing collective of staff and faculty. I will give you an example. Just recently I received an email from another member of faculty, prompted for no reason, just to check on how things were going. It is this sense of community, which is not seen often among larger organizations, be that educational or non-educational.
What is the most challenging part of teaching at IBS, that is teaching a really multicultural cohort of students?
Teaching a class of multicultural students is always a challenge. We just covered this in organizational behaviour class, the idea of differences in personal preferences for certain learning styles. Any class always seems to develop its own sense of community, or if you like a communal personality. It takes time to get to know that “group personality” and find the golden middle that most effectively resembles a good learning environment. Balancing the individual interest and personality against the dominantly preferred class learning style is challenging. Yet I do enjoy this predicament, as it serves as a good impetus for me to reflect on what works and what doesn’t in the classroom, and now, through online teaching.
Are you used to it or did you have to face some unexpected challenges?
Having taught in Switzerland for over then years, the whole educational system became engrained into your everyday routine. This also meant that you guided every student through learning and knew every student, from the first year through to the final year. IBS is still a learning curve for me. I have to adapt to a new cohort profile, and learners need to adapt to my somewhat direct and critical means of instruction. The challenge lies in balancing and creating familiarity with both of these elements. I see this as a teething phase where we still expect the unexpected. Hopefully, we will all grow to expect the expected.
Probably, teaching is not your sole activity. What other professional activities are you doing?
In 2019 I was involved as a part-time consultant in setting up a new hospitality and tourism school in Switzerland. Additionally, I am consulting personal contacts in the initial phases of starting up their own business.
In what ways do they help your teaching?
Consulting on a business start-up reminds me again that materials taught in class, do indeed have a lot of value in the real world. As a teacher, I sometimes get sucked into the minutia of theory and its application. Yet this takes on another flavour, if you like, once you start seeing theory in practice, or conversely, observe something in practice and relate that back theoretically.
Do you have any hobbies?
At the moment not much time remains to pursue my hobbies. Having studied nature conservation, I do enjoy being out in the garden. Don’t be fooled! I do not see myself as a gardener, rather a landscaper. This means that I have ideas, dig numerous holes, uproot trees, and plant new things, only to reverse the process again; it is called creative gardening.
Furthermore, I love cycling. Due to an unfortunate cycling accident a few months ago, I broke my shoulder and have since not been out on the bike as much as I would like to.