My name is Debra Stephens and I am an Associate Professor in Marketing at the Pamplin School of Business. My background is psychology. I decided to become a marketing professor after working on some very interesting and meaningful consumer research projects with my mentor at the University of Chicago. We investigated what makes an advertisement misleading even when it is not legally deceptive, and how to present nutritional information so that it would help consumers make healthier food choices. I loved this applied research that had the potential to benefit consumers in multiple ways. Hence my decision to become a marketing academic.
I have been teaching marketing for the last 22 years, and have been a visiting professor at Columbia University and the University of Michigan. My teaching areas are consumer behavior and promotions management, and one of my favorite aspects of teaching is getting to learn and share new ideas and practices in those fields. My research areas, as I mentioned briefly, include marketplace experiences of disadvantaged consumers, emotional responses to advertising, and exploring how human-animal bonds impact consumption choices.
I belong to the American Marketing Association, which I highly recommend as a source of professional contacts. Portland Advertising Federation is also an excellent resource of educational and professional activities and opportunities.
My advice to students aspiring to become marketing professionals is to learn analytical skills (Qualtrics, Excel, etc.), how to write well, and above all how to LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS. Marketers who disrespect or do not understand their customers will not succeed for long- nor should they!
My advice to my 20-year-old self: Don’t let anything distract you from your education. Those of us who can afford a college education and have people to encourage us are the most blessed of all humans. While higher education should be a right, it is in fact a gift, not to be taken lightly. Remember: Of those to whom much is given (all of us), much is asked. When you are sitting in the classroom, PAY ATTENTION! Learning requires your engagement. In short, education is not a consumption object. Rather it is to be treasured as the wellspring of wisdom, compassion, and vision.