Industry pays tribute to ‘wizard’ Professor Merlin Stone

merlin-stone2Senior industry figures have paid tribute to leading customer insight expert Professor Merlin Stone, one of the most influential academics and business consultants in marketing, who has passed away following a battle with cancer.

Stone started his career in academia in 1970 as an associate lecturer for The Open University, teaching economics, then had spells at Kingston University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before joining Xerox as a business planning manager in 1980.

Over the ensuing years, Professor Stone had parallel careers in business and academia. In business, he worked for IBM and The Database Group, and was a key advisor to scores of organisations on sales and marketing management and delivery, CRM, database marketing, call/contact centre management and customer service.

His consulting, training and employment experience covered many sectors, including arts and culture, financial services, utilities, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, travel and transport, retailing, automotive, energy, IT, information services and the public sector.

Meanwhile, he held senior academic posts at numerous universities, including Henley Management College, Kingston University and Surrey University. At Kingston, he was Dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences (arts, languages and social sciences) and also held senior roles at Bristol Business School and Brunel Business School, as well as being a visiting professor at Leicester, Luton, Portsmouth and Solent business schools.

Professor Stone was also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Honorary Life Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing. He wrote hundreds of articles and 30 books on customer management.

Posting on LinkedIn, Professor Stone’s daughter, Talya, wrote: “Merlin was a genius who brought intelligence and great energy to any room he was in. People loved to listen to him talk, and he took great pleasure in bringing together and helping people. He touched the lives of so many, and in his final days there could have been no greater love surrounding him.

“He was an inspiration to so many, with his incredible business acumen, general knowledge, endless practical advice, naughty humour, and endlessly proactive nature.

“Husband, dad, brother, grandfather, friend, uncle, teacher and mentor to so many. What an incredible imprint you have left as your legacy. Please join us in remembering our favourite wizard of all time.”

In response, DataIQ co-founder and CEO Adrian Gregory commented: “Very sad news but a lovely note. Merlin was an amazing man and will be missed.”

Healthcare Professionals International managing director Andrew Pound, who spent five years at Mars as CRM and direct marketing director, added: “Heartache – but with warm memories – with news of Merlin’s passing. A man of gentle kindness, generous spirit and exceptional talent. The unique quality of his writing and insight will stand the test of time. Like many who knew him, I will miss his friendship.”

Meanwhile, Salesforce principal solution engineer Dave Thomson said: “I first met Merlin in the 1990s, when he spoke at many of Aspect’s events. His wisdom, insights and humour were hugely appreciated and you always came away better for the experience. He greatly influenced my presentation style and I followed his work avidly.

“We bumped into each other a few years ago at Heathrow and it was great to hear that he was still evangelising his research and thoughts around the world. His legacy lives on far and wide.”

Namecheap global CRM director Jonathan Cann, the former head of marketing at O2, added: “I am really sorry and sad to hear this. He worked with me when i was just starting out in corporate life and introduced me to customer marketing – basically putting the customer first. It felt to me in a world full of jargon, nonsense and waffle – he was a shining light. He could cut through the corporate BS. A lovely gentlemen who was really an inspiration to me.”

Professor Stone’s family have asked for donations to Princess Alice Hospice or Macmillan Cancer Support in his memory. Click here for more details> 

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