Fran (as she is always known) describes her role as ‘primarily a teacher' - ironically something she never set out to be. She particularly likes teaching undergraduates and tries to describe the buzz it generates: “I really get a kick out of watching students develop, and I love the stimulation I get from interacting with fresh, young perspectives and playing a part in starting their professional lives”.
Fran mainly teaches undergraduates marketing principles and marketing management, with forays into marketing communications and retail. She is passionate about encouraging students to think ‘marketing' and at coming up with new ways of engaging learners in this process. In her departmental role as Business Academy Co-ordinator, she plays a strategic role in shaping the portfolio of taught courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, with a particular brief to enhance the employability of graduates and to maintain academic quality. Fran also supervises PhD students. Two have completed their degrees and one is underway, studying national cultures and their influence on the take-up of mobile technologies.
Fran is the lead author, with Stephen Pettitt, of the Book – Principles of Marketing, now published by Pearson and in its fourth edition. Also now available in Chinese and Russian, wherever marketing is taught in English – outside North America – you will find it being used. It has a smaller sister version Essentials of Marketing. They evolved from an original idea by Fran for an introductory marketing text, a frustration with what was then available for students and conversations with publishers. The main book is now over a thousand pages long, and has had a profound influence on the marketing education of several generations of students. Some have reported back that “it really helped me at interview (for my marketing job) that you had taught me”; others that they keep it in their desk drawer for reference while at work.
Keeping the book – and her teaching – up to date with marketing trends and practice means that Fran is constantly engaged with marketing practitioners, finding new material for case studies and teaching material, which is published both online and on video as well as in written form. Businesses, usually but not exclusively British ones, with a good marketing story to tell are enthusiastic about being used as positive exemplars, and see the book and its various spinouts as an excellent PR outlet. A trip to China – where she gave guest lectures – also provided valuable access and insight into doing business there, and material for the book.
Originally scheduled to study classics at University – and still handy with the odd Greek quote – Fran actually started her working life in National Westminster Bank, before returning to university and studying business. This then led on to a funded PhD on the role of information technology in management decision-making – a subject she has yet to return to. Her first teaching job at Teesside University was to teach students of industrial design about marketing, and it was this that developed her interest in customers and gave her a wider business perspective. Subsequent moves took her to BCUC (now Bucks New University) and then to the Business School at Oxford Brookes University in 2003, where she is Principal Lecturer in Retail Management and Marketing.
Fran sees marketing as moving in a quieter more reflective direction now, with marketing engaged in re-defining the whole concept of what it is to be a consumer, as many consumers think further about what their current life-styles are about and what kinds of spending they actually need. The challenge for mainstream marketing will be how to take these changing aspirations on board and to run with them. Fran will be there to monitor progress.