By Caroline Brooks
Since stepping into the Broad College of Business as a faculty member at the start of the new millennium, Dr. Tomas Hult has helped not only to put the college on the global map, but also to shine as a leader in research, thought-leadership, international relations, and scholastic achievements. After nearly 20 years as a member of the Broad College faculty, the last year was perhaps the most significant in his career – though no reason to stop looking ahead at the next game-changing research topic.
Hult is currently professor of marketing and Byington Endowed Chair, as well as the director of the Broad College’s prominent International Business Center (IBC). Hult has stood at the podium before classes of hundreds since joining the Broad College of Business. He began his Broad academic journey as associate professor of marketing and supply chain management. However, his most distinguished achievements – as demonstrated by the past year – are driven by his world-renowned research.
In 2016 alone, Hult co-authored four articles for the Journal of Marketing, the most any expert in the history of the industry-leading journal has completed.
2016 also marked the year the Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) named Hult the AMS/CUTCO-Vector Distinguished Marketing Educator of the Year, an award that recognizes a marketing scholar’s outstanding career achievements and global impact.
“This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication Tomas puts toward his research. The broad impact his work has on the global community is immense, and we are very proud to have him as a colleague here at the Broad College of Business,” said Sanjay Gupta, the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Dean of the college.
In August, Hult – along with Broad faculty member David Closs; former Lansing, Michigan mayor David Hollister; and engineering consultant Ray Tadgerson – released Second Shift: The Inside Story of the “Keep GM” Movement. The book received rave reviews and positioned Hult as an international thought leader with deep-rooted local knowledge – expertise not acquired by many in the field, and a true differentiator to the Broad College.
“I like that we are entrenched in almost everything that is going on in Michigan in terms of international trade. For example, the IBC serves as a Regional Export Network for the State of Michigan, overseeing 23 of Michigan’s 83 counties. This means that for all the companies going overseas from one of our counties, we are likely to interact with them to advise on strategies to increase their international competitiveness,” Hult said. “The IBC provides real value to companies doing business internationally,” he said.
Hult recognizes the critical importance of research to companies’ bottom lines, whether they are local or international in scope. Looking back on his career and how his research has evolved, he sees the way companies value research as one of the greatest shifts in global business.
“Now, and looking ahead, we’re breaking the norm for what we need to focus on in evaluating stocks, and in how companies approach the marketplace,” he said. “Early in my career, I may have stopped at figuring out how to satisfy customers. Now it is important to me to carry that throughout the full value chain; that is, what can companies do to satisfy customers, and what does it mean for the bottom-line performance for companies?”
With areas of focus that span local, national, and global business, and in both the public and private sectors, Hult’s breadth of knowledge and deserving achievements raise the bar for the Broad College of Business. Hult finds ways to intertwine his research interests, which oftentimes leads to new avenues of thought leadership. “In everything I do, I try to have a strong connection to the overall value chain in international business; for example, in the International Business Center we leverage our expertise across various activities at the university, region, and country levels,” Hult said.
So what’s next? More integrated, global, relevant research, according to Hult. “How we as a country interact with the rest of the world in international trade.” His role in figuring that out is large, as a director of one of only 17 national resource centers in international business (called CIBERs) designated by the federal government. His work distinguishes MSU, Michigan businesses, and the country as a whole.