Associate Professor of Marketing
University of Canterbury Business School
From his work being published in a variety of international journals to his involvement to the time he spent in an executive role with the Association for Consumer Research, University of Canterbury marketing professor Ekant Veer contributes to the marketing field by promoting consumer well-being. With research specialities in social marketing, consumer behavior, and advertising, Veer uses marketing technologies, psychology, and advertising to enhance the quality of life for consumers and to encourage social change. For example, he investigates different ways marketing and advertising can encourage healthy eating in children, consumers to quit smoking, and even get people to vote. In 2011, he received an Early Career Researcher of the Year from Canterbury’s College of Business & Economics.
In his role as an MBA professor, students say his responsiveness is unbeatable and he demonstrates a genuine care for all students. It is these qualities that earned Veer the 2017 University of Canterbury teaching medal, the highest teaching honour the university bestows on its faculty. He’s also been voted Lecturer of the Year by the students five times in his eight-year tenure (three times for the College of Business and twice for the university as a whole. Still, the achievement he says he’s most proud of is the follow-up he receives from students years after they’ve moved on from his class and graduated. “I get unnecessarily emotional and happy when a student who graduated a few years before emails me to say how much they enjoyed my classes and they fill me in on their lives.”
At current institution since what year? 2010
Education: PhD in Marketing, University of Auckland, 2006
List of courses you currently teach: Marketing Principles (MBA), Marketing for Behavioural Change, Digital Marketing
Twitter handle: @VeerOffTrack
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR
“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” When I realised the business world was full of fascinating, interesting questions but people didn’t necessarily have the time to answer them. As a business academic I am afforded the privilege to not only speak into the lives of the next generation of business leaders but also work with people to answer really interesting questions.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I focus heavily on using marketing to benefit society and consumers within society. My recent work has been focused on how we can better promote and market mental wellbeing and break down stigmas associated with help seeking behaviours in business. I am also passionate about understanding digital consumer cultures and the way in which people interact online in both healthy and unhealthy ways.
“If I weren’t a business school professor…” Bored.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I have a passion for not only student care and wellbeing but also bringing ethicality into business practices. We discuss difficult issues in class, we don’t shy away from topics that are controversial or taboo and we use these experiences, in a safe environment, to help build better methods for dealing with similar situations in the future.
“One word that describes my first time teaching” :
If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be?
Some weird mash-up between Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” and Nirvana’s “Lithium”
As a b-school professor, what motivates you?
Knowing that business leaders have influence in many different fields. If we can help mold business students and thought to one of societal benefit, not just profit maximisation, then we have the ability to really have a positive influence in the world.
“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor”:
Some students won’t listen, some reviewers won’t like you, most people don’t know what you do for a living…but it’s all worth it!
Professor you most admire and why:
Again, a weird mash-up between Prof. Avi Shankar and Prof. Linda Price – someone who is loving, caring, ethical but also straight the point, someone who makes you reflect and think more about who you are, and willing to guide you back on the right path when you stray.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
The challenge of communicating complex issues in a manner that may be experienced in a variety of different ways. Also catching up with my students years down the line. I still keep in touch with many of them and I love hearing about their adventures around the world.
What is most challenging?
Preparing. It’s impossible to know what the class will look like before you enter the room – adapting on the spot and tailoring the course to suit their needs takes a fair bit of time and effort.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student
Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student
What is the most impressive thing one of your students has done?
Made me lost for words because I was so impressed with their commentary on the work we were doing – it happens a bit, but I love it when students ‘get it’.
What is the least favorite thing one has done?
“Yo, Ekant…what’s in the exam?” – I usually reply with “I have no idea, I haven’t written it yet – better study for everything, huh!”
What does a student need to do to get an A in your class?
Ask questions, send me drafts, be naturally curious, be an excellent communicator and, above all, answer the questions being asked. Too many really intelligent students get sidetracked in their work and don’t answer the damned question!
“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …”
“But I would describe myself as …”
Someone who hated having to wait for my own grades to come back so I’m really just exorcising my own demons by grading overnight – I used to love doing assignments but HATED waiting three weeks for grades to come back.
Fill in the blank: “If my students can be better people in the workplace and at home, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Fun fact about yourself: I play the keytar – yes, that 80s synth sex machine
What are your hobbies? Photography, music, spending time with my whanau (family)
How will you spend your summer? In New Zealand, we’ve just finished our Summer, and I spent it enjoying our amazing landscape and recharging, ready for the new teaching year!
Favorite place to vacation: Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Stupid Marvel Superhero movies – you’ll see me at the cinema on the first day for all of them. I love the ability to just switch off and enjoy some mindless action escapism.
Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Anything I can sing along to
Bucket list item #1: Watch the Aurora Borealis from the Arctic Circle in winter.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTION
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
I’ve been fortunate to win a number of teaching awards, but I really value the intangible stuff. I get unnecessarily emotional and happy when a student who graduated a few years before emails me to say how much they enjoyed my classes and they fill me in on their lives. It doesn’t happen every day but when it does it’s amazingly refreshing.
What is your most memorable moment as a professor?
Recently, winning the University of Canterbury’s Teaching Medal – only 10 have ever been awarded. To be able to share my story of why I teach, how my grandfather was the first person in his village to learn to read and write and now I’m winning awards for teaching just shows how important education is as a social elevator. We need more educators.
“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…”
Focused on building relationships with business and working together to answer interesting questions that have a lasting impact on the world. I want to see revolutionary knowledge created and disseminated.
“And much less of this…”
Politics and infighting. We’re on the same team, let’s co-operate.
In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what? Please explain.
Looking at a long-term perspective of how their organisation contributes to society and the world. We glorify short-term gains in profit at the expense of human lives in other parts of the world. Being more socially aware and be willing to take a hit to our profits to benefit those who are less fortunate is a sign of real strength.
Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you
If I’m still employed. If I still have students excited about coming to class. If I’m still able to contribute to both academia and society with my research.
“Ekant is hands down one of the best professors I have ever had. Time flies when you are at his lectures, being absorbed by his charismatic and whimsical personality and contagious unwavering enthusiasm for marketing. He really gives a damn about the students – motivating us to embrace the challenges on our own but always being there for us – ready to lend an ear and give a hand. His responsiveness is simply unbeatable. In contrast to some professors who reuse the same old slides year by year, Ekant’s lectures include state of the art research and examples from practice. I have been leaving his lectures and office not only intellectually empowered, ready to tackle real marketing and research problems, but also in good spirits. I can only wish that I will affect my students in my future professional life as profoundly as he has affected me.” – Maja Golf-Papez