Friday, June 17, 2016

Opponent for Ph.D. Defense, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

I was asked by Jos Lemmink, the "promoter" (advisor) for Maastricht University Ph.D. student Alex Henkel, to be one of the "opponents" for his defense. The ceremony is quite elaborate and includes full gowns and a very specifically controlled (timed) ceremony. As part of the process, 6-8 "opponents" (professors from various universities) are charged with assessing the written dissertation and asking the Ph.D. candidate any questions they see fit.
The newly appointed Dr. Alex Henkel and Dr. Dwayne Gremler.
Alex did a great job in presenting his research (within a strict 15 minute time limit) and answering questions from the opponents (for exactly 45 minutes). Generally they are technical or theoretical questions. I actually think he struggled with my question more than any of the others. It was: "Since you have now completed the work required for getting a Ph.D., what have you learned about yourself, doing a Ph.D., and life?"
Dr. Gremler and Dr. Lemmink
I first met Alex and his fellow Ph.D. candidate Robert Ciuchita (and one of Alex's paranymphs) when I conducted a day-long seminar entitled "Becoming a Successful Marketing Professor"at HEC-Liege in November 2011 (two days after I attended Cecile Delcourt's Ph.D. defense in Nijmegen).  Alex had only been in the Ph.D. program for about 2 months when he attended it, and told me at his party on Friday evening that he found it to be very valuable and inspirational. Then he told me that ever since they attended the seminar that he and Robert had wanted to rub my (bald) head for good luck. After having had a few beers at the party and feeling more confident since he had successfully defended his dissertation earlier in the day, Alex asked me if he and Robert could rub my head for good luck...
Perhaps this will be good luck for Robert (on left) and Alex?

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