News & Press: InSider

Volunteer Spotlight: Stacie Petter

Friday, January 3, 2014  

Stacie Petter is an associate professor of information systems & quantitative analysis at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Her research has been published in MIS Quarterly, JAIS, EJIS and JMIS.  She was a program co-chair for AMCIS 2013, and a 2013 AIS Technology Challenge Award winner.  She is an associate editor at MIS Quarterly and on the editorial review board of JAIS.  She has been active in track leadership for AMCIS and ECIS, and she has participated in STEM initiatives at her university and in her community.

In this edition of the AIS Volunteer Spotlight, Stacie was interviewed by Cynthia Beath, VP Meetings and Conferences.

Q. Someone once told me that everything about academia is "service" -- research is service to society, teaching is service to students and society, and the rest is service to our institutions and profession.  What's great is when they're synergistic.  Does your professional service enhance your ability to teach or do research?

A: Absolutely!  For example, in my leadership roles with SIGITProjMgmt, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about other aspects within the field of IT project management.  In the process of reviewing, I learned to think more critically about my own research.  I also have a better feel for the type of research typically accepted at various journals, which helps me better match papers with an appropriate journal.  Other forms of service have allowed me to cross paths with many people that I would have no reason to meet otherwise.  Some of those people have provided advice for my research projects or for my classes, others have become co-authors on research projects, and some are now my friends. 

Q. When junior faculty members ask you whether not they should take on a service assignment, what's your advice?

A: One lesson I learned from an AMCIS MIS Camp was to "say ‘no’ more than you say ‘yes.’” Reflecting back on my service record as a junior faculty member,  I didn’t always follow this advice very well.  In my first or second year as a faculty member, every request seemed important and life-changing.  Over time, I began to be more strategic about the opportunities that would receive an answer of "yes” both academically and in my university community.

Thus, my advice is to be cautious about how much service you are willing to accept, particularly early in your career.  You will be expected to start doing more with service as you get closer to tenure, so use those early years to avoid significant service responsibilities, like department and university committees, and publish as much as you can.  The exception would be reviewing.  Reasonable levels of reviewing can be very helpful to junior faculty members.   I would also advise junior faculty to have candid conversations with department chairs about how much service is reasonable given the requirements of their university for tenure and their stage in their career. 

Q. What's been your biggest professional service surprise?

A. My biggest surprise has been how much I enjoy professional service.  At first, I performed professional service because I believed that service was part of being a good citizen of the field.  If I want people to review my manuscripts or offer tracks for my work at conferences, I should also be willing to review papers and serve at conferences.

Yet, over the years, I realized how rewarding and enjoyable service can be.  While it can be frustrating at times, there are aspects of service that play into my strengths.  I like to solve problems.  I am organized and detail-oriented.  I like a (reasonable) challenge.  I enjoy helping people and my community.  When I started in my career, I had no idea that there were so many service opportunities that allow me to do things that I enjoy and enable me to offer something useful to our professional community.

Q. What does your family say when you tell them you've taken on another new responsibility?

A. I’ve tried to make it a personal policy to never agree to a new major responsibility right away, even if I really want to say "yes.”  Usually I ask the person requesting to let me think about it first.  I do this is to make sure I have the bandwidth and capabilities to take on this new commitment.  I don’t want to agree to something only to realize that I am not going to be able to do my best in that role.  This also gives me time to discuss the commitment with my family before making a decision.  They are a great sounding board to help me figure out what I should do and it gets them involved in the decision. There have been cases in which we decided that the responsibility isn’t a good choice right now.  There are also times in which after discussion, I realized that something I wasn’t interested in originally would actually be something that I should agree to do.  Since my family will be impacted by any decision I make, I try to keep them involved in the process whenever I can.  

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