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  • Writer's pictureMarie Brand

Academic Evolution with Nadia Abou Nabout

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Written by Marie Brand, PhD Candidate at WU Vienna

Despite having spent nearly three years in the same department, I’ve never really had the chance to get to know Nadia Abou Nabout. I was all the more delighted to finally have the opportunity to talk to her for this interview. Nadia is a full professor at the Department of Marketing at WU Vienna and leads the Institute for Interactive Marketing & Social Media. She also serves as a member of the editorial review board for both the International Journal of Research in Marketing and the Journal of Retailing.

How did you get into marketing?

“I came to marketing against my will, it was exactly what I did not want to do. My marketing 101 lecture was horrible, but it was easy. I knew from the start of my studies that I wanted to stay in academia, so I applied to a lot of TA positions. The new Marketing Chair in Wuppertal had an opening and I ended up staying with them for five years, until the end of my masters. I realized that marketing can also be quantitative, and I loved working there. One of the postdocs there was a valuable mentor to me. He suggested that I take econometrics, game theory, and microeconomics classes. I followed his advice and ultimately applied to a Ph.D. position with Bernd Skiera.”

You said that you always wanted to stay in academia. How come?

“My father was an academic and we were always around at the university where he worked. I saw how he programmed, wrote papers, and went to conferences. How he mentored his students, who even came over to our house sometimes.”

I wanted a job in academia too, so there was no plan B. In hindsight, that might not have been ideal, and I would not recommend it to anyone now.”

- Nadia Abou Nabout

“After my Ph.D., I knew that I wanted to stay in academia, but I was less sure about the responsibilities of running an institute and all the management tasks that come with it. Now that I am running one, I can also see the positive aspects, like mentoring Ph.D. students, and seeing them develop and succeed.”

Is there a magic formula for a successful career in academia?

“No, I don’t think there’s a magic formula. The best advice I can give is don’t compare yourself with others, that just drives you crazy. Focus on your own path and doors will most likely open for you. Having publications is necessary, but that can look different for everyone. Some people need a long time for their first publication. I had my first publication quickly, but then I had a long lean period. Another project I worked on took 10 years to publish – that project is twice the age of my daughter now.”

“Of course you have doubts sometimes, most of the feedback that we get in academia is negative. It’s important to not bury your head in the sand. Avoid comparisons, do your own thing and develop your own research-personality.”

- Nadia Abou Nabout

How do you prioritize your tasks and responsibilities?

“It’s something I struggle with, especially when it comes to prioritizing my own research. That’s often the first to fall behind. Having good co-authors helps and I also try to take care of small things right away. I do a lot from my phone, if I have a moment in between I use it to reply to emails. Then when I sit down at the computer, I can focus on the bigger things.”

“I think of taking care of to-do’s like washing dishes. Some people let the dishes pile up until they take care of them all at once. Others like me need to take care of each dish immediately, otherwise it drives me crazy”.

- Nadia Abou Nabout

“And realizing that I can’t say yes to everything as well, knowing where to say no and where it is important to make time for something.”

What do you love about your work?

“My favorite task is writing, especially introductions. The back-and-forth revisions with co-authors, polishing and editing a text over and over. Especially if you read it again after a few months and think “that’s actually quite good”. Another thing I always try to prioritize is reviewing for IJRM. I love that you can learn from so many different projects, that I might not have seen otherwise.”

“It’s lovely to see a project be published after its evolution from a version that had a lot of loose ends to something the authors can be proud of.”

- Nadia Abou Nabout

“If there are papers that don’t make it to publication, it’s often because of bad writing. It’s important to be very clear in your communication when you first submit a paper. Having an idea of what the paper is about, how the empirical part was done, and what the contribution is helps us reviewers.”

“We have limited time, so make it easy for us and put time into clear and concise writing. Review until the writing flows and the paper has a very clear-cut structure.”

- Nadia Abou Nabout

If you could invite anyone to a dinner party, who would it be?

“I would invite my grandpa who passed away. He was one of the first radio hosts in Syria and helped to build the radio network. There were thousands of mourners at his funeral and he was the most famous voice in Syria. I would invite him to a Syrian dinner and have him meet his grandkids.”


This article was written by

Marie Brand

Ph.D. candidate at the WU, Vienna

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