Deutsch-kanadische Eindrücke: Interview mit Professor Maureen Bourassa

Maureen Bourassa, PhD, Associate Professor of Marketing Graduate Chair, Master of Science in Marketing Edwards School of Business of the University of Saskatchewan, graciously agreed to give us an interview.  Mrs Bourassa visited Stuttgart with her students this last Spring and will be back next year in Germany.  Thank you very much for taking the time!

Tatiana

Mrs. Bourassa, you are a marketing professor at the University of Saskatchewan, tell us a little more about your work.

My job as an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, involves teaching, research, and what we call “service.”  As a teacher, I have instructed a range of courses – marketing research, marketing strategy, introduction to marketing, and most recently, a course about evidence-based decision making.  As a researcher, I collect data –through interviews, focus groups, participant observation, experiments, and surveys – to explore topics and answer research questions that I think are important. In terms of service, I am a part of several committees, I supervise graduate and undergraduate research projects, and I coordinate our Master of Science in Marketing program.

In May you visited Stuttgart with your students, tell us about the purpose of your visit. Why Germany/Stuttgart?

The trip is part of an undergraduate course titled “Evidence-Based Decision Making.”  The aim of the course is to explore the role of research and data in making better strategic decisions.  It is an experiential learning course that also has an international travel component.  It is funded by sponsors, including PotashCorp.  The course took place for the first time in May 2017, and we will be holding it again in May 2018.

Why Stuttgart, Germany?  I am the course leader, and am fortunate to have the support of my colleague, Dr. Marjorie Delbaere, who has personal connections in Stuttgart’s business community.  These relationships are what enable the course to be successful.  Also, both Marjorie and I speak German, so this is an asset in leading our group of students!

Are there other countries you would like to visit with your students, why?

Students gain so much from international travel that, really, any country is an amazing learning opportunity.  Intense learning takes place when we are in a place that is different from what we know or take for granted, and it is these differences that challenge our thinking and our perspectives.

That said, I have never been to South America, and Chile has been on my bucket list for a long time.  If I could use teaching as an excuse to get there, I definitely would.  Hiking in the Andes Mountains would be breathtaking.

One of your current project researches is: “The Role of Respect, Power, and Emotion in Stakeholder Engagement”.  Can you summarize the main points for us?

In my research, I am interested in marketing ethics – specifically, my work aims to understand how stakeholders from multiple sectors engage with each other to solve complex social issues.  For example, how can industry, government, and community successfully work together on topics related to nuclear energy, urban poverty, or childhood obesity?  I am particularly interested in the role that respect (and disrespect) plays in these processes.  When a person feels valued (or not valued) in their relationships with others, how does this change how they feel about their colleagues and the process, and how does that ultimately impact the outcomes?

You worked on various projects and publications, which achievement are you most proud of?

Can I call my three beautiful children an achievement?  I have a daughter who is 10, and two sons who are 7 and 5 years old.  My first child was born while I was a PhD student, my second child was born just after I successfully defended my PhD thesis, and my third child was born in the early years of my career as a marketing professor.  This has challenged me to spread my attention not only between the three facets of my work – teaching, research, and service – but also between three little people.  It has made me more efficient and focused in my job, and has, of course, brought me much joy.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching?

I enjoy challenging students to think critically – to not only make observations, but also try to figure out why the world works the way it does.  We do this on our course in Germany.  It is not always easy, especially because it can be ambiguous, but it is also so rewarding.

Are you originally from Saskatoon?  What do you like the most about it?

I moved to Saskatoon when I was 4 years old.  I have spent time abroad (going to school and working in Austria) and in Ontario, Canada (I did my graduate schooling at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario).  But, I have lived in Saskatoon for the majority of my life.

What I like most about Saskatoon is our gorgeous river valley.  The South Saskatchewan River runs through our city, and there are dozens of trails along the river for walking, running, and biking.  I have lived in several neighbourhoods in Saskatoon, but no matter where, it is always close to the river!

What are your all-time favourite places in Canada and why?

The lakes and rivers in northern Saskatchewan: The northern half of our province is covered in dense boreal forest, Precambrian shield, and over 100,000 lakes.  It is amazing!  Our family loves spending time at our cottage, camping, and canoeing (including white-water canoeing) in the north.  It is my escape from reality.

Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia: About 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia) with my work.  It was a short visit, only two days and one night, but it was a magical place both in landscape and culture and I have always hoped to go back. 

The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia – The Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island is a 300 km highway with incredible scenery of mountains and ocean all at the same time.  I have driven the highway before; we camped along the way. I have some friends who recently cycled the highway and I think it would be even more spectacular to experience the trail from my bike.

What professional dreams would you like to realise one day?

Happiness!

The great thing about academia is that there are many paths to success, and some of these paths unfold as one’s career progresses.  I definitely want to work towards becoming a full professor (I am currently an associate professor, so full professor is the next step).  After that, I think I may enjoy an administrative position at the University, at least for a period of time.  I am on sabbatical next year, 2018-19, and our family is planning to move to France for one year where I will conduct my research and our children will attend school.  That has been a professional dream for some time now, and it is exciting that it is just around the corner!

What are your 3 favourite books?

I have so many favourites!  Instead, three recent books still on my nightstand are:

The Book of Letters I Didn’t Know Where to Send by Steve Patterson.  The author is host of CBC’s “The Debaters.”  I had seen him live and very much enjoyed his (clean!) humour; his book of letters is equally entertaining.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  A beautifully crafted story by a Swedish writer.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson.  Another Swedish author; I always enjoy his work.  I’m in the middle of this book right now.

Which person would you like to work with on a project, if you could have a free pick, and why do you chose him/her? 

My husband!  With three young children and full-time jobs, we never have enough time for each other it seems.  If I chose him as my project partner, then we would get to spend more time together