Inside & Outside the SPJ Classroom – Featuring Dr John Lodewijks

With a rich academic experience spanning 40 years, Dr John Lodewijks is the Vice President of Academic at SP Jain School of Global Management. He holds a PhD in Economics from Duke University (USA) and has published over a hundred journal articles and book chapters.

One of the most popular faculty among students at SP Jain, Dr Lodewijks has been the recipient of numerous recognitions including the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence at UNSW and the Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

As we launch our first-of-its-kind Inside & Outside series, we caught up with Dr Lodewijks to know more about his life inside and outside the SPJ classroom.

Dr John Lodewijks

Could you tell us a bit about your educational and professional journey?

I completed a First Class Honours degree in Economics from the University of Sydney and then a Master of Economics from the University of New England.

During my master’s degree, I specialised in Development Economics and I was the only Australian in a class full of Asian international students. We had great comradery and every weekend we would socialise over a meal at someone’s house or dormitory. The variety of cuisines that my classmates served during these meals were amazing. The Sri Lankan curries were the spiciest – my eyes would water and my head would get dizzy – but they were so tasty!

I then headed to the United States of America for graduate work and completed an MA and PhD from Duke University. Returning to Australia, with my American wife, I worked at the University of New South Wales for 22 years including a stint as the Head of Department, then transferred to Western Sydney University as Head of the School of Economics & Finance. Eight years later I moved to SP Jain as the Dean of Undergraduate Programs.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Playing with my four grand-children, cleaning up my back yard after another assault from the bush turkeys that think they own the place (I live in an area surrounded by the Australian bush) and watching lots of sport – the English Premier League & UEFA Champions League, Rugby League, and Cricket (especially the 20/20- and one-day competitions). I enjoy the Test match battles and especially, as all my Indian students will agree, watching the best cricket team in the world – the fabulous Australians!

Do you have a morning routine as you start your day at SP Jain?

I get up early and hit the emails. Once they are cleared, I have the morning to myself as my colleagues in Dubai and Mumbai are still asleep while those in Singapore are just eating breakfast. So, these are some uninterrupted hours that I can spend on projects and tasks that require concentrated effort and are more strategic. This is also when I can do my research and writing. Soon, once the other campuses become active, emails start flooding in and I am back on operational matters. 

Is there something about you that students would be surprised to find out? 

I was born in the Netherlands. My wife is American. One of my grandparents was Indonesian. We live in Australia in a street where my neighbours on the right are Latvian and those on the left are Indians with a Chinese family and a Sicilian family living near them. All part of the cosmopolitan cultural and ethnic diversity of modern life. 

If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would you share? 

Despite all the temptations and interruptions that social media can provide, remember there is no substitute for hard work and concentrated effort. This may not guarantee success – after all, life was not meant to be easy or fair – but it increases the probability of success, however you define that.

Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?

The Golden Rule I live by – Treat others as you would like others to treat you.

Beside my bed, I keep an old book by Stephen Pile titled “The Book of Heroic Failures”, first published in 1979. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I read a section and it is so hilariously funny that my eyes water with laughter. The dedication in this book states – “To all those that have written terrible books on how to be a success, I dedicate this terrible book on how it is perfectly alright to be incompetent for hours on end. I am and so is everyone I know”.

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