2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Marina Puzakova, Lehigh University

Marina Puzakova

Associate Professor of Marketing

Lehigh University, College of Business and Economics

At first pass, humanizing a brand sounds like a winning marketing strategy for an organization. Through the study of brand anthropomorphism, however, Lehigh University College of Business professor Marina Puzakova says companies should consider the risks. These and other such research topics related to consumer behavior, consumer perception, and other branding strategies have earned Professor Puzakova placements in top academic publications including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, and International Journal of Research in Marketing as well as two editorial board member spots with the Journal of Advertising and International Journal of Advertising. As an educator, Puzakova’s enthusiasm and high-quality teaching are put on display in courses such as Consumer Behavior and Digital & Social Media, where students compliment her class design and organization to get all students engaged — as individuals and in teams. This year, Professor Puzakova was awarded Lehigh’s Staub Faculty Excellence Award.

Age: 33

Education: PhD in Business Administration with Concentration in Marketing; PhD, Drexel University – Area of Study: Consumer Behavior, Branding

At current institution since: 2014

List of courses you currently teach: Consumer Behavior

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Publishing in top journals in our fields, receiving University-wide teaching award

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” Many years ago, when I was training a new person for my replacement as a business analyst

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Scary

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am studying the impact of humanizing brands on consumers’ desires to buy distinctive products when they desire to be unique. One of the most significant discoveries is that a humanized brand can compete with consumers’ identity and thus being disliked

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? When a student told me that I was an inspiration for her after many years

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? More digital technologies, social media platforms, and interactions emerged

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be…” Maybe an artist

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a professor”: It is intellectually challenging every day

Name of the professor you most admire and why: Professor David Griffith at the University of Texas at A&M. David has been my mentor and an inspiration to be a better researcher, teacher, and scholar. He truly cares about our field of Marketing, where and how it develops, he truly cares about students and their successes.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? They are very inquisitive, they challenge you with questions and new perspectives

What’s the biggest challenge? Maintain students’ interest and attention, stay relevant

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? One of my students opened his/her own business and applied concepts and materials we learnt in class to this business

What is the least favorite thing one has done? One student came to my office after an exam and said that she/he left the exam blank because she/he had anxiety

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? Students have more distractions, less attention span

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Contribute to class discussions, be creative, hard-working

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Fair grader

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? “Let’s play together”

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Hard-working

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student:  Irresponsible

“If my students can apply concepts learned in class, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

Fun fact about yourself: I can see different colors when I hear classical music

What are your hobbies? Painting, cooking, hiking

How did you spend your summer? Travelling: Visited Scotland, England, and France

Favorite place to vacation: Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Favorite book: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Favorite movie and/or television show: Outlander

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: classical

Bucket list item #1: Visit Bali

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment? Bringing up-to-date news, business cases, technology to the classroom

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Digital and interactive technology, long-distance learning

“And much less of this…” Students’ attention span

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you: Develop a program of exciting research in branding and develop strong professional relations with colleagues nationally and internationally; to have the opportunity to develop knowledge that will improve managerial practice and society.

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