How is it possible that a sound engineer ends up as a professor of marketing at the School of Management at Universidad de los Andes?

March 27, 2018

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Published in Noticias profesores

How is it possible that a sound engineer ends up as a professor of marketing at the School of Management at Universidad de los Andes?

Well, this is a question that I ask myself everyday. The truth is that, if we go deeper into a part of my life, it somehow makes sense.

For instance, since I was a child, I had to get used to changes: I was born in Brazil and, due to family decisions, at the age of 11, i moved to Ecuador. Perhaps this first life changing experience (and the corresponding cultural adaptation process) were the trigger that makes me keep a constant search for novelty. This eternal curiosity is what thrives, inspires, and motivates me in my everyday life.

Well, as it happens, at the end of high school in Ecuador I decided, once more, to fly away. Like this, I went to study sound engineering in Chile. After finishing such studies, I spent 5 years of my life working as a sound designer and project manager as part of the Brazilian audiovisual sector, in São Paulo. It was here that I had a quite enriching experience from a creative and musical perspective, but I also had a lot of contact with the universe of marketing and advertising.

Interesting as well is to mention that, since I was very young, I was fascinated not only by the music as such, but also by the rituals that surrounds music and the nightlife. I see myself, numerous times, at a concert or a dance club, enjoying the music, the ambience, and also looking for to understand why music provides us with such satisfaction, triggers so many emotions, and puts us, literally, in states of ‘trance’. The funny part is that humans give so much intrinsic value to musical, or cultural experiences, when compared to the value that we give to feeding ourselves (or some times even more!), and we actually need to eat to survive! So, music: Why do we need music in our lives? This is the kind of questions that made me pack again, cross the Atlantic, and get back in touch with academia. I went to Spain and got a master degree in acoustics. It was here that I got the invitation to start a PhD program in the Holy-Land of Chocolates and Beers (Belgium). Interestingly, when the opportunity of pursuing a PhD degree appears, the first challenge to overcome is to find the right topic. In my case, I decided to blend two of my greatest passions: Music and Food.

From this point, and until today, I investigate how our senses interact, and how it is possible to use the information from one sense to somehow influence the perceptual process of the other senses, and all of this from the perspective of human behaviour. In my particular case, I study how sound can affect the tasting experience.

Up to this point you may be aware that, so far, I have not been in touch with any kind of business schools, neither I had studied nothing to do with management. But this is life, right?! Life can take you to places and paths that, without actually realising, unexpected doors and horizons are constantly being opened.

As a professional sound designer, I had a strong and direct contact with the universe of communications, marketing and advertising. Even if at that time I was more dedicated to produce music, and sounds (… and party!), I learned a lot about the language of communication, and the importance that all of our senses can have in marketing and branding strategies. Even if this learning process was somehow unconscious, the knowledge was being assimilated. Eventually, all of these ideas started to be naturally included as part of my research scope. In parallel of my scientific pursue, I am always interested in keeping a constant dialog with food and drink producers. All of this, not only with the objective of getting support while answering my research questions, but also in order to find inspiration in the market needs, and hopefully understand more and more about the potential valorisation that these ideas can have in society. For instance, in collaboration with the city of Brussels, back in 2016, I coordinated a project entitled “The Sound of Chocolate” , where we proposed an innovative way of experiencing Belgian chocolate through music www.thesoundofchocolate.be

Another thing that has always been with me is the need to dialogue with music, and with the universe of arts in general. Like this, I try to foment the usage of arts as a support for the dissemination of science and knowledge into society. My guess is that we all agree that it is easier (and funnier!) to communicate an idea through a song, when compared to communicating the same idea through a scientific report. At the end, these journeys around several countries, professions, and disciplines, are exactly what the most interesting business schools around the globe valorise, and it is one of they key topics that they are looking for to teach to their students. The ability to generate and communicate in a transdisciplinar way is a very important added value in today’s society. Companies are more and more transversal. The professionals of the future will be challenged to be very creative and innovative. The rest will be most likely solved by machines and artificial intelligence.

Speaking about technology, another path that triggers my curiosity is the path that is being usually referred as “transhumanism”. How will be the human of the future? For instance, will we have a greater digital control of our senses? What would be the social implications of such new abilities?

I would like to invite to read more about my work in my blog: http://sonictaste.weebly.com

FELIPE REINOSO CARVALHO

Assistante professor

USAM - UNIANDES

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