Academic Q&A: Paul Dobson

PaulWelcome to the third instalment of our  popular Question and Answer blog series. We have an extremely exciting interview to share from the Head of Norwich Business School. Paul is a Professor of Business Strategy and Public Policy as well as a leading international author on pricing strategy, retail competition, and supply-chain relations.

1.     What would your super power be?
Well, if we all had telepathy then that would cut down on doing emails.  Teleportation ability would certainly help cut down on travel time.  Otherwise the ability to go without sleep might help me get through the daily work load.

2.     What do you like about your job?
I love the challenge of working with colleagues to continue building NBS into a great business school, distinct by its approach to teaching, learning and research and its potential to be a powerful advocate for responsible business in a wide range of business and management activities and circumstances.  The continuing growth and success that NBS is enjoying are rewarding, while the challenges and opportunities for further improvement and development are motivating.  It is a great job and a real honour to serve as Head of NBS working to support UEA and the staff, students and communities it serves.  Nothing stands still and NBS is a School that has gone through many changes, but it is a real pleasure seeing that evolution, seeing how colleagues develop, and seeing what we can jointly achieve.

3.     How do you relax?
Cycling, walking and reading, but in all honesty sometimes after an exhausting day sharing a good bottle of red wine and watching a good film on TV will do just fine.

4.     What is your favorite place on campus?
Sainsbury Centre as an oasis of calm and a place for inspiration; a real treasure for UEA and something that we can all share in and experience.

5.     Who would play you in the film of your life?
Ben Affleck or George Clooney in terms of looks, Paulbut in case they found the role too challenging and a real intellectual powerhouse was required then I could see Sylvester Stallone or Danny DeVito giving interesting if somewhat different interpretations to my life and approach to being Head of NBS.  In terms of the bizarre twists and turns that can happen in life, I am reminded of the cult-classic “O Lucky Man!” starring the great Malcolm McDowell, and so Lindsay Anderson (if he were alive today) would be a great director for the film, taking the view that one’s own life story seems surreal in retrospect and the ultimate direction and ending can take many possibilities.

6.     Which words do you most overuse?
Like many people, I have “word of the day”, when I cannot stop repeating the same phrase during the course of a day, but which changes from one day to the next.  More generally, though, I have to be conscious as a Head of School that what is achieved in NBS must always be ascribed to “we” and not “I” as it is a genuine team effort.

7.     What is your favorite book?
It is not easy for me to select one as I have several favorites, but I will nominate “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely as beneath its well-written and insightful analysis of the way we behave as humans is a story of inspiration for all academics as to what drives our research and personal desire and curiosity to find answers to the questions that interest us.  I will not give away Dan’s personal story, but just ask you to buy and read the book and be struck by understanding how one (in his case, major) incident in a life can fundamentally change one’s perceptions, values, priorities and direction, but how that can be harnessed for a positive effect with a legacy that benefits all of us.  Too few leading academics make their academic work sufficiently accessible for the general public, and Dan’s book is a fine example of how this can be accomplished.

8.     What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It is too short.  Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?  Procrastination is an enemy that we must constantly fight, and I think I will start in earnest tomorrow.

See more of our Academic Q&A series here.


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