This Father’s Day, Goizueta Business School is celebrating dads by speaking with our own father-daughter duo (and marketing gurus) Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Chaired Professor of Marketing, and Reshma Shah, professor in the practice of marketing.
Emory Business: You’re both professors in the Marketing department. What sparked each of you to pursue a career in this field?
Reshma Shah: I went into this field because my father was in this field. I tried pretty much everything that I could to not be an academic. I did consulting and brand management—even considered law—took the certified public accountant test. But the pull was too strong.
When I was an undergrad, I found this area to be the most compelling because I wanted to know more about the psychology behind what drives people, how they think and make decisions, and how they buy things. I remember dad doing little experiments on us when we were at home and just finding them to be really interesting.
Jagdish Sheth: For me, it was totally accidental. My undergraduate was primarily accounting, history, and statistics. I got turned on to psychology during my MBA. I always enjoyed understanding what motivates people.
Emory Business: Reshma, how did you feel when you joined the faculty—and your father—here at Goizueta?
Reshma Shah: I was thrilled. For about three years, while finishing my doctorate, I drove by the Goizueta building as it was being constructed, and I kept saying, “That’s where I want to work.”
Emory Business: And what do you think about it, Jagdish?
Jagdish Sheth: I was overjoyed for a different reason. Not because she’s my daughter, but because she’s such a valuable resource for the university. I watched her as a counselor as an undergraduate, counseling the freshmen who came. She shared letters that came from the parents. She had a natural knack for counseling and advising outside of the classroom, which I think is equally important at a private university.
At Goizueta, the size is small, so you can have a one-on-one meeting with students. I know that she will have a huge impact on human life.
We all believe very strongly that the purpose of academic life is to unlock the potential of others. That’s what she does. She still gets letters—30 years later—from someone saying, “You made a difference in my life.”Jagdish Sheth
Reshma Shah: Well, the other reason why he was so happy that I joined is that he was the shortest faculty member in the department until I joined.
Jagdish Sheth: I always told her, if nothing else, become a stand-up comedian. She’s incredible, especially with accents.
Emory Business: That skill is probably very beneficial in the classroom, too! What’s one project or research that you’ve done that the other has been particularly proud of?
Jagdish Sheth: As I was organizing the department, we decided to go after consulting as an activity for MBA students. It’s also a very good recruiting tool because you identify bright people. I asked Reshma if she would like to manage the program, and she did a fantastic job.
Reshma Shah: We turned it into a course called Goizueta Marketing Strategy Consulting (GMSC) and made it a program that was a real differentiator for the school. People from different parts of the world would say they heard of our program because of GMSC. The program’s success motivated the school to expand it to other areas and make it available to all of our MBA students. I still offer this course to my undergraduates, and it’s one of the most exciting things I do with them.
Emory Business: I bet the MBA alumni who come back as judges enjoy the experience, too. Now, Reshma, what work of your father’s have you been most proud of?
Reshma Shah: When he came to Emory, he started The Center for Relationship Marketing. My doctoral thesis was on alliances, so the work of that center was super exciting for me. Also, he’s been teaching a very popular and insightful class on global marketing for years, and this year, I’m finally going to sit in.
I’ve been saying it for years, but this fall, I’m going to sit in every single class to soak up his vast knowledge. I’m not done learning. My father teaches me new things all the time.Reshma Shah
Emory Business: Have there been any funny moments from you guys working in the same school?
Jagdish Sheth: We sometimes have the same students in class, and I’ve found out that anything I say in my class is immediately sent to her—however they do it—but nothing comes from her class to me.
Reshma Shah: It’s one-way espionage. The other funny thing is that some people won’t know that we’re related either ever or until after the fact, even if they’re taking both of our classes.
Emory Business: They’ll know now! What do you do together outside of work?
Jagdish Sheth: We like to travel quite a lot, even when they were young, because university holidays/breaks often match with school holidays. For spring break, we drive around and look at parts of America. In August, we’ll fly someplace. Then in December, we generally go even further out. We go to India every two years.
These are the best experiences. We’ve been to New Zealand, South Africa, and the Galapagos Islands. Now, we are bonding even more because they’re empty-nesters, too. We get together more like friends every week. We just chat and have a great time.
Emory Business: That’s wonderful! Do you have any other trips planned this year?
Reshma Shah: We’re going to the Maldives this Christmas. We’re also going to India to celebrate dad’s 85th birthday. He’s the oldest faculty member to teach at Goizueta, and we’re all so proud of that major milestone achievement.
Emory Business: We’re glad you’re here, Jag! Happy early birthday!
Reshma Shah: We’ve been talking about writing a book for the last 25 years. He just can’t get off his you-know-what. I’ve got the whole book written. I’ve got the proposal down. I have a publisher, but he just can’t work with me. He can work with everybody else. I think he’s a little intimidated.
Emory Business: Those are fighting words! Last question: What’s one characteristic you most admire in each other?
Reshma Shah: I would have to say bravery, resilience, and tenacity. Tenacity, I think, is an interesting word because you could replace it with other things, so it might be determination or motivation.
Jagdish Sheth: Reshma is funny, kind, and caring. Her caring attitude comes through in mentoring. Resilient given what she’s gone through in her life; she’s able to bounce back.
Reshma Shah: I thought the first word would be brilliant!
Emory Business: Thanks to both of you for sharing with us today! Happy Father’s Day to all our Goizueta dads!
At Goizueta, we make it our business to understand the current landscape, anticipate, and capitalize on successful positioning. Marketing is one of the ways we do that. Our Marketing faculty has a robust program of research and publication in the leading journals in marketing. Learn more here.