Tribute to My Mentor, Dr. Ned Roberto

(Note: This speech was given in 2004 as a tribute to Dr. Ned Roberto, on his being bestowed the 1st Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association of Marketing Educators (AME). The author would like to share this as part of Mansmith and Fielders effort to encourage marketers to pay tribute to their mentors, a call made during the 4th Mansmith Market Masters Awards)

Today, we honor an institution in the field of marketing education and marketing research, a man who is one of the people responsible for bringing marketing education in this country to such a prestigious level to which it now belongs.  And tonight, on behalf of AME, it is my honor to pay this simple tribute to my mentor, my role model and my friend, Dr. Ned Roberto.

When the proposal to bestow the first Lifetime Achievement Award (in the field of Marketing Research) on Dr. Ned was initially brought forth before the board of directors of the Association of Marketing Educators, it was no contest.  It did not take a big convincing for the board to decide; all that was needed was to circulate in AME’s e-board the proposal, and then it took less than 5 seconds for the motion to be carried in a board meeting without objection.   After all, what would marketing education be like in the Philippines without a Ned Roberto?  The decision of the board, I am sure, reflects the respect of the entire marketing educators, as well as the rest of the academe, in honoring an outstanding and exceptional person, and whom we all know most of all, as a good human being.

Allow me to give a run through of Ned’s Achievements in marketing education:

Involvement in AME

Ned has been helping AME since the early 1990s.  He was the main lecturer for the case study method, as well as case facilitation.  In fact, there was a year when AME had a case writing competition named in his honor.  He was also active as a speaker, resource person, or adviser in various AME’s conferences and activities.  Dr. Ned, through his seminar company, granted a 200-slot “Applied Marketing Research” scholarship to members of AME since 1997, which has massive multiplying effects benefiting not just the professors but the students as well.  For these selfless contributions, AME bestowed on him the Tanglaw Ng Karungungan Award as one who made the most impact to marketing education that year.

While he has recently retired in the academe, he continues to be of service to AME, as principal adviser to the newly launched MERIT teacher’s training project of AME.

But Ned is being recognized not just because he has been helping AME, but more so because he is a pioneer, an innovator, and a catalyst bringing about positive change in marketing education and marketing research.  Many people, including motivational teacher John Maxwell have quoted that leadership is never about position or rank, it is about influence, and here is one person who wields lot of influence in the research industry, among practitioners and the academic world.

Personal Brand

Just as marketers make differentiation a battle cry, Ned is the epitome of uniqueness, a personal brand no less.  Mention the brand “Ned” and it almost always elicits an emotional response.  He is to me the Starbucks among marketing educators, the Coca-Cola’s “Ned is it” among teachers, and like the Mercedes Benz among marketing writers.

Besides a weekly column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ned has authored or co-authored 10 books, including one with Philip Kotler no less, making us Filipinos proud that we have an international educator amongst us when collaboration was not even popular then.     

Inspiration

I met Ned sometime in 1991 as a member of the first batch of the marketing strategy seminar offered by the AIM.  He inspired me so much that I wanted to be like him and so, the next year; I launched my very first book, with him as one of my six reviewers.  

I was a full-time entrepreneur then but was already starting to involve myself as a part-time educator at the Ateneo de Manila.  After I heard him lecture the first time, I had to re-examine my paradigm, relearning marketing all over again.  Eventually, I decided to refocus my priorities, principally as a marketing educator with business as the side.  Today, I spend more time doing marketing strategy workshops almost weekly and relegated the day-to-day operations of my business to a GM.  And I am not afraid to admit that Ned was one of my key mentors in my transformation — always so unselfishly nurturing, never rejecting my hunger for learning.  Such is the influence of Ned, when he opens his mouth; people listen, as if we are being possessed.  The passionate and idealistic marketing educator you see in me today, is the same marketing student possessed by Dr. Ned 14 years ago.

I am honored to have known Ned all these years, I have been privileged to work with him in various occasions, including co-editing the book “Marketing Excellence in Good Times and Bad” which we, along with Joe Faustino, also of AIM, donated to the Philippine Marketing Association (which by the way, added some P1 million profit to the coffers of PMA). 

Ned has built a legacy that is unshakable and untarnished by any scandal; he is to me a clear example of how one person can influence the triumph of the Filipino spirit.  If I can achieve one-fourth of what he has already achieved, then I can say, I have not done badly myself.

If I sound like a gushing fan – it is because I am, and I am proud to say it.

Ladies and gentlemen, please help me honor the man, the best-selling author, the research guru, the authoritative columnist, the much sought-after consultant, AME’s first and only Lifetime Achievement awardee, the living legend of marketing education, and dean of the marketing research school, Dr. Eduardo “Ned’ Roberto.

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