Freek Vermeulen, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, has recently been named as one of the next top global management thinkers by the Thinkers50 Radar list. We meet up with Freek for our '10 questions with...' interview to find out a little bit more about him.
Name: Freek Vermeulen
Position and department: Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship
- You are an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship. Can you tell us a little bit about your research?
I like doing what we call “quantitative empirical field research”, meaning that I like measuring stuff, in order to show that in a particular industry things really work very differently (for instance in the long-run) than even the people within it themselves believe and assume. Recently, I have been studying a large diversity of settings, including the IVF industry in the UK, the market for Champagne grapes, innovations in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry, mutual funds and US care homes.
- What does your typical work day look like?
One good thing is that there are at least three typical days. When I am at the School I fill my days with teaching on various programmes, meetings with PhD students, attending academic seminars, committee meetings and visits to the Windsor. My research and writing – whether for an academic journal, something for the Harvard Business Review or a business book – I tend to do at home. The third type of typical day involves at least one airport.
- Where is your favourite place on campus and why?
I am tempted to say the quad, to signal that I think we should never revisit the plans to build a roof over it. But I think it is actually really our department’s corridor: I’ve now been here for 15 years and, although many people have left and new faces appeared, I think it is quite remarkable how it has always been very collegial, friendly and simply fun.
- What is top of your bucket list?
The fact that I have to think about it tells you I don’t really have one… Let me say another attempt at whale-watching. That’s because the first (and last) time I tried that – last year when I was on sabbatical in South Africa – I was so incredibly sea-sick that pretty much all I saw was the bottom of a large bucket.
- Who would play you in the film of your life?
I think it should be Andy Serkis – because he did such a fine job playing Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
- Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Tough one… I am torn between Hermann Hesse and Alice Munro, but having two writers there would probably be too much, so I will go for Munro. I’d add Aung San Suu Kyi and Mstislav Rostropovich – this is all assuming they drink wine. I’d also invite Heston Blumenthal (if only to do the cooking).
- What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
I have to admit that I increasingly look at the world and the people around me as sort of an alien ethnographer: with some curiosity and amazement, but also without any urge to have an opinion on it.
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Only sleeping alternating nights for 22 months while my son was ill.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I remember seeing an otherwise terrible film in which someone said “rule 1 = don’t sweat the small stuff; rule 2 = everything is small stuff”. I have forgotten absolutely everything about that film but not the quote. It was made worse when later I learned it is actually also the title of some self-help book…
- Tell us something surprising about you
I would get a lot more writing done if my office at home did not also have my cello in it, so that too often I cannot resist the lure to play it
Read the full new story on London.edu: LBS expert recognised as an up-and-coming management guru