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Rob Hammond: First to Defend his Dissertation in the Muma College of Business Doctor of Business Administration program

By Keith Morelli

Rob Hammond defending his dissertation

TAMPA (April 17, 2017) -- Rob Hammond enrolled in the Muma College of Business' Doctor of Business Administration program because he wanted to research and revolutionize the way sales teams do their jobs.

It's been two years since Hammond was accepted into the inaugural class of the program. Now, his research is done and he successfully defended his dissertation, "Avoiding the Carnage: A Guidebook Through Sales Transformation," last week, becoming the first DBA doctoral candidate to do that. He also is half-a-year ahead of his classmates. A handful of the 22 may get their chance by June, the rest later in the year. The program works around busy schedules of working executives, so the dissertation defenses are staggered.

The DBA program's students are not your typical doctoral candidates. Hammond and most of his peers have been executives for decades. The program reaches out to these corporate leaders, offering the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree with which they can boost a career or consider a profession change, possibly, to university teaching.

In a room filled with colleagues and business professors, Hammond explained his research and faced some tough questions and feedback on what will become a handbook for managers on the complexities of training sales teams.

"The DBA has provided value on multiple levels," he said in an interview earlier in the week. "First, I cherish the relationships that have developed as part of the program. Second, I gained new insights about me. Third, I improved and sharpened skills that I've been able to apply directly to my work."

He is perfectly situated in the worlds of business and technology, excelling in business transformation, account management, consulting, engineering and product management across multiple industries and technologies. Among his strengths: Hammond is able to leverage his technical knowledge to build markets and understand major market disruptions like mobile, big data, social, unified communications and the clouds.

"Rob's research into the sales training process has the potential to change the way managers think about preparing their employees to sell new products," said Grandon Gill, academic director of the USF Muma College of Business' DBA program. "His work helps to explain why so many attempts to change sales processes fail.

"More importantly, it provides insights on what we can do to address it.

"Rob's progress in the program has been nothing short of astonishing," Gill said. "Not only is he the first DBA candidate to defend his dissertation — more than six months ahead of schedule — he also has taken on a mentor role in support of many of the other participants in his cohort."

Hammond said his dissertation research is drawn from the breadth of his 30-year professional life.

"Throughout my career I've been at the epicenter of market disruptions," he said. "Big market shifts like digital, global outsourcing, cloud computing and mobile to name just a few. These market disruptions brought with them new demands and sales behaviors for the sales force.

"While firms did their best to train the sales teams and even hired third parties to help transform the sales force," he said, "many of these efforts failed and the result was that salespeople lost their jobs.

"My dissertation research focuses on why these training efforts were and are unsuccessful. It suggests an alternative approach and guides business leaders through the process of sales transformation from strategy to managing sales operations."

Hammond has worked for Syniverse Technologies, a global cloud company based in Tampa, since 2013.

"Today, I focus on sales effectiveness," he said. "I live among the natives."

He changed jobs at Syniverse while in the DBA program so that his duties now are more closely aligned with his research.

"Making this change," he said, "enabled me to focus more of my time on topics related to my research."

His findings could have a far-reaching impact.

His dissertation is structured in four phases:

  • Research that shows that despite spending billions annually, sales training efforts are largely ineffective at changing a salesperson's opinion on sales behaviors.
  • A qualitative grounded theory study that developed a model for sales transformation.
  • Application of various academic theories, including innovation diffusion and complex systems, validated with research to deliver a more effective and cost efficient approach to transform a sales force.
  • Fusing his experience in practice with his research and course work to produce a practice-centered book for sales transformation.

Hammond holds a master's degree in engineering and an MBA and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. His MBA is from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Lake Forest, Illinois, and his master's degree from West Coast University in Irvine, California. He earned the undergraduate degree from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Hammond holds five patents.

Outside the classroom and office, Hammond runs for exercise with his energetic 2-year-old Australian Shepherd and occasionally plays golf. He's married to Lisa, his wife of almost 31 years. The two met at Purdue where Lisa graduated with a degree in chemical engineering.

Hammond has worked with Microsoft, Sprint, Motorola and General Dynamics. He held increasingly responsible positions in engineering, sales and product management.

While working at Syniverse, Hammond created an enterprise product strategy and launched multiple new product lines in addition to his various sales leadership roles.

At Sprint, he developed initiatives that grew the subscriber base, increased subscriber revenue and managed costs. Some of his product initiatives at Sprint included: directory assistance, operator services, voice activated dialing, location-based services, billing and spending control. He also developed ways to optimize long distance, coverage presentation and automated support systems.

Hammond has held roles in professional services and sales at Microsoft and was able to increase customer revenue and expand Microsoft's professional services business across product lines and customer service from top to bottom.

"I've been fortunate to have worked for some of the most iconic technology companies," he said. "I began my career in the defense industry working for General Dynamics as an electronics engineer on missile flight tests. I then went to work on this new thing called cellular with Motorola.

"At Motorola, I began as a systems engineer designing, implementing and optimizing cellular systems around the world, then moved into management, including sales.

"The common thread in my career," he said, "is making fact-based decisions and building teams that solve problems, whether in the United States or around the world, in engineering, product management or sales."

Over his career, Hammond has repeatedly seen the failed attempts of sales transformation and the issues that it caused for both companies and sales people.  He hopes that a DBA from the Muma College of Business combined with his career experience and rigorous research will enhance his efforts helping both sales people and companies transform.

Why follow this path?

Hammond has an innate curiosity and desire to understand the "why" of things. Maybe this stems from his years of product experience or perhaps it is seated in his engineering degrees. More likely this character trait is part of his underlying personality.

"Regardless of the cause," he said, "I love to learn and understand the 'why.' Over my work experiences, this curiosity has moved beyond technology to understanding why people behave the way they do. Education is a channel for me."