Profiles from the Academy: Richard Staelin

Matt Weingarden, Curator
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Duke University
Key Takeaways

Richard Staelin was named an AMA Fellow as a part of the inaugural cohort in 2015. 

He was adviser to AMA Fellows Russ Winer and Ruth Bolton. Prof. Winer served as adviser to AMA Fellow Kay Lemon. 

All four served terms as Executive Director of Marketing Science Institute.

Richard Staelin is the Edward and Rose Donnell Professor of Business Administration at The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University as well as an American Marketing Association Fellow. He served as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at The Fuqua School as well as a term as Executive Director of Marketing Science Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to joining Duke University's faculty, he taught at the Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Chicago and the Australian Graduate School of Management. He holds two bachelor degrees in Engineering, and MBA and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.​

Would you briefly introduce yourself? 
I am the son of a traveling salesman and thus moved around a lot in my early years. I went the the University of Michigan as an engineering student and 4 degrees later, with a brief stint in business working for IBM, I got a PhD in Statistics from the U of M. My first academic job was at Carnegie Mellon University where I was on the faculty for 13 years. I moved to Duke in 1982 and have been there ever since. 

What attracted you to marketing as a discipline of study?
I think deep down inside I always knew I would be in marketing, although I never was enrolled in any marketing courses. However, almost every job I held had a major marketing component. In addition my PhD thesis was a study on consumer behavior buying major durables. I always was attracted to the “practical” aspects of trying to figure out how to better understand consumer behavior and how firms can use this understanding to market their offerings. Given my educational background, I often used quantitative methods to study these problems

Was there a pivotal moment or key person in your career? 
There have been many key people who have greatly impacted my career. In terms of research, the person who comes to mind is Tim McGuire, who took me under his wing and taught me a ton. My work with him won me the Converse award. In terms of being a “good” administrator I would have to say it was Tom Keller, who was the Dean for most of my time as Associate Dean. He had great insights into how to build an institution and I feel very fortunate to have learned from him. Of course my wife was also a key person, since she not only supported my efforts, but also acted as a sounding board to keep me headed in the right direction.

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What surprises/obstacles did you experience in your early career? 
I joined Carnegie Mellon University’s marketing group only to find that I was one of three assistant professors to be hired with no senior leadership. Over the next three or four years, the other two faculty left, leaving me to be a group of one. I really was not too upset, since there were lots of other faculty around with great skills that were willing to work with me. In addition there were great PhD students there and I got to work with them as their thesis advisor. Thus, what could have been viewed as an obstacle turned out to be a real advantage 

What about you surprises new students and/or colleagues? 
The new faculty are extremely well trained technically. With that said, they often lack the institutional knowledge needed to do really impactful research. MBA students seem less interested in learning and more interested in using the degree to get a job (I must sound like a bitter “old man”).

What is your go to relax after a challenging day or at the end of a challenging project? 
Drink a cold beer and sit on the porch and talk to my wife

To learn more about Professor Staelin, visit his home page at Duke University​

The following questions and responses were selected from a Profiles from the Academy questionaire. To learn more about the Profiles from the Academy or to suggest a subject, email Matt Weingarden at

Author Bio:

Matt Weingarden, Curator
Matt Weingarden is the Community Content Senior Manager and staff liaison to the AMA Academic Council.
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