Jooyoung Park: Keep Asking Why and Enjoy the Moment
2020-03-19 15:02:58
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Dressed in a white sweater and a warm smile, Professor Jooyoung Park welcomed me to her office on a chilly December afternoon. A Korean native who earned her Ph.D. in marketing at the University of Iowa, Park shared with me her journey to academia, challenges along the way, and ve years of memories at Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS).

“No Independence, No Growth”

Park started her teaching career as a faculty member at PHBS in 2014. Since then, her courses in marketing management and consumer behavior have become popular for their abundant information and Park’s inspiring teaching style. Park said she could never have imagined herself one day pursuing a Ph.D. and becoming a professor, leaving a comfortable life, family and friends behind in her motherland. She recalled a defining moment, her first study-abroad experience, which rerouted her life unexpectedly and completely.

Instead of finding a good job and settling down in Korea, Park was encouraged by her parents to study abroad to gain more life experience in a different culture. As a first step, she moved to Canada to study English. Yet, the initial phase of excitement gradually faded as reality set in. Park recalled, “I met a lot of people and encountered thousands of difficulties in Canada.Suddenly I realized, I had to figure out things by myself.” 
She said that from saving money, time management, problem solving, communicating, to dealing with people problems, everything seemed to converge all at once. Park recalled being overwhelmed and frustrated. However, with the optimism and spirit of self-challenge, she eventually adjusted to the new environment. “Finally, I realized if I can do something, then this is something I can do better,” Park said.

"I'm a Person Who Keeps Asking Why”

When asked what motivated her to embark on a Ph.D. degree, Park said it was her unceasing curiosity. “High reputation, good salary, people’s respect, those are the bonus of doing the Ph.D. degree. However, for me, continuing to ask ‘why’ brought me to where I am today.” As an example, Park showed me the comments she wrote on a student’s homework and explained, “I keep writing down question marks while reading any materials. I keep asking myself why this could happen and why not? Are there any other possibilities and explanations? Marketing is about persuasion, but I set myself up as difficult to persuade.” Park said she enjoys the moment when she digs down to the reasons beneath facts. She said that in addition to research and writing articles, she also applies this principle to teaching. “If you are in my class, get ready for answering why,” she said. Park added that she would never let any academic questions in her mind slip away, although she is quite easygoing and down-to-earth outside her classroom and office.

Professor Park teaches marketing 
Park is more than a good teacher. As a diligent researcher, she has published eight academic articles in the last 10 years. One that she co-authored, “Relative Effects of Forward and Backward Planning on Goal Pursuit,” was published in the international core journal, Psychological Science . Park shared her own way of tackling tough problems during research and writing. For 30-40 minutes at least twice a week, she goes for a run after spending long hours at the computer. “While running, I can do nothing but think, until fresh ideas come in,” she said. “At the moment I break through my limitation, then I can enjoy the achievement.”

"My Way of Giving Back to the Society”

After earning her Ph.D., Park said that instead of feeling relieved as do many who realize that goal, she still felt that something was missing. In her mind, what she did was just borrow theories from social psychology and apply them, yet she felt that she barely knew about the discipline. Feeling unsure, nervous, and not quite ready to be out in the world, Park said she asked her husband, also a professor in the same field, if she should work toward another Ph.D. “Think about what you’ve already gotten,” he replied. “This is the time you should give back to society.” Reflecting on having received a much-coveted scholarship from her university which allowed her abundant resources, support and help, Park decided, indeed, it was time to give back.

The journey was not all smooth sailing, she remembered. During her first years of teaching, Park tried to give many assignments to students since she wanted to share everything she thought was important with her students. However, she had to adapt to many challenges, such as changing work environments, economic climates, and students with different stories to tell each year, which altogether made it even more difficult to predict and meet the expectations and demands of the class. “I have to adjust my teaching approach and meet needs,” Park said.

Many students appreciate her time, efforts, and great care in teaching and advising. Liu Yang, one of her PHBS students said, “Professor Park always replies to my questions by email very soon, no matter how busy she is. My understanding of real academic research was not able to improve without her help.”

Park continued to explain why it is all-the more important for her to help her students, when asked about how she manages to juggle everything during her busy schedule. “I have my colleagues, co-researchers, and a lot of help from others. But there are few choices for my students. If I don’t help them, then it’s going to impact their future career, even their life.” Park recalled feeling at a loss because her interests were not quite aligned with her advisor’s expertise. Yet, her advisor connected her to another professor who could point her in the right direction, and this eventually led to her present career. “My advisor played a vital role in my life, and I want to do so as well,” Park said.

When asked about advice for students, Park said she wished people could enjoy the moment rather than being regretful for the past or fearful for the future. “If I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret anything I talked to people about and what I showed to others,” Park responded. “Be sincere, nice to others, and enjoy the moment.”

By Ding Ning 
Published on PHBS Magazine Spring 2020
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