Venkatesh Shankar
One word set Texas A&M University’s Professor of Marketing Venkatesh (Venky) Shankar apart from all the other speakers at his speaking engagements and meetings in Singapore, India, and Malaysia this summer. One word let people know where he was from and what he was about. One word became his trademark: “Howdy!”

“People knew me as the Texas A&M guy,” said Shankar, who spent six weeks this summer traveling and conducting research for his first book, all while spreading a little Aggie culture. Shankar is the Coleman Chair of Marketing at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School.

His book will focus on India and China as future superpower economies and the implications for the U.S. He presented his research entitled “China and India: Future Economic Superpowers,” at the Nanyang Business School, Singapore.

Though Shankar’s primary goal for the trip was collecting data, he also presented papers at several conferences, including the doctoral consortium and the annual conference of the 2007 INFORMS Marketing Science, considered the flagship gathering in that field.

In academia, a researcher’s work can sometimes seem removed from the real world. Not so with Shankar’s areas of expertise. On this trip he gave practical applications of his research to two members of Singapore’s government.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Professor S. Jayakumar, invited Shankar to discuss global competitiveness. “It is a very small country but it is very prosperous,” said Shankar, who had met Jayakumar on a previous trip two years ago and had kept in touch via email. “He seemed to be very progressive about making Singapore a highly efficient and competitive market for business…they are always thinking of the future,” said Shankar. He also met with Raymond Lim, the minister of transportation to discuss services management issues in Singapore.

At Singapore Management University, his paper on services innovation (co-authored with fellow Mays faculty Leonard L. Berry and Janet Turner Parish, former Mays faculty member Susan Cadwallader, and Mays PhD candidate Thomas Dotzel) was disseminated to the advisory board of its Institute for Service Excellence. Shankar says he hopes that this work can shape the service industries and culture in that country.

Shankar estimates it will require at least a year to analyze the information he collected. Though his goal is to be finished by then, he has hit one little snag: “The more research I do, the more good information I find that I want to include. Every time I try to finish, I feel that there’s more out there.”