Robert C. Ford
University of Central Florida
"In 1970, as a fairly new member of the doctoral program at Arizona State University, I was advised to join the Academy of Management by my faculty. They convinced me that it was important to become an active participant in our profession in order to network with those who were doing what I was doing, to share ideas with the many different smart people that I would find in the membership, and to help sustain the profession that benefited us all
Sustaining the profession was important to me, as was the idea of having a personal social obligation to my profession and society at large. Moreover, AOM was the only national organization at that time that allowed me an opportunity to meet and share ideas with the people who were defining the field at its Annual Meeting. In that regard, the Annual Meeting was every bit as exciting then as it is today. While the one journal we then received (AMJ) was useful for idea sharing, it was the opportunity to meet people at the Annual Meetings that was the attraction for a doctoral student in the desert. By the time I neared the end of my doctoral work and needed a job, the annual meeting was also the place to find one.
After I took my first job at a smaller school, I discovered that Annual Meetings were where I could talk with others who were as excited about management as I was (and still am), find colleagues to share ideas with, and even find co-authors. I began a life long tradition of attending annual meetings and, in my career, I've missed only three. The best part for me is that every time I went I met new people and came home full of new and exciting ideas. These meeting are also where I developed friendships while working with colleagues on a variety of jobs for which I was always welcomed.
Over my career as a participant in divisional offices and committees, a presenter of papers, a discussant and session chair my annual pilgrimage to the Annual Meeting enabled me to build friendships and working relationships with hundreds of interesting people. Where else could I go and have a discussion with Lyman Porter, Rick Mowday, Ed Locke, Fred Luthans, or the many other scholars who were writing about the ideas that excited and intrigued me? Where else could I go and hear about the latest developments in topics that I was discussing in my classes? I met and become colleagues with some truly great people. I looked forward to seeing them annually and catching up on their careers, their families, their joys and their sorrows. It is hard to imagine how poor my life would have been without the richness of these people and the opportunities I had to share their ideas and their lives.
My current focus is establishing a formal Community of Senior Scholars (CASS) group within AOM. I selfishly want to encourage these folks to keep returning to the Annual Meetings so I can renew these friendships, continue these stimulating conversations, and revisit the fun we had working together. I truly believe this will provide a mechanism for those of us who have felt truly blessed by the benefits of our careers to give back and pay some of our civic rent. Thus, I see AOM and its Annual Meeting as a home for not only the newly entering professionals who seek guidance and opportunity to grow, but also for those senior scholars who have benefited from the guidance and opportunities they had across their careers and are ready, willing and able to 'pay it forward'."
Robert C. Ford is professor emeritus of management at the University of Central Florida where his focus has been on managing service organizations. Besides his administrative responsibilities as department chair and associate dean for graduate studies, Bob has been an active contributor to the knowledge base of management. He has authored or coauthored many publications in both top research and practitioner journals and several books including The Fun Minute Manager, AchievingService Excellence: Strategies for Healthcare, Managing Quality Service in Hospitality, and HR at Your Service. He has served the Academy of Management as editor of The Academy of Management Executive, Chair of both the Management History and Management Education and Development Divisions, Chair of Placement, Chair of the Ethics Adjudication Committee, and co-founder of the Community of Academy Senior Scholars. He has also been active in the Southern Management Association (SMA) which he served as president. He was awarded SMA's Distinguished Service Award and voted as a SMA Fellow. He is a founding member and past Chair of the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, and was a member of the Destination Marketing Accreditation Commission.