Senior officer leaves military behind to pursue academic career

A lifetime spent in the Canadian Forces has well equipped Peter Voyer with the command he’ll require to fully devote himself to his true passion: a life in academia.

“I’ve been in uniform pretty much my whole life,” said Dr. Voyer, who left the military as a senior officer to become one of the newest faculty additions at the Odette School of Business, where he’ll be an assistant professor in marketing. “It gave me the mental discipline to pursue a very ambitious research agenda and maintain a high level of fidelity to that agenda.”

Voyer officially joined the army in 1985 after having served as a cadet and in the reserves, and completing an undergraduate degree in psychology at Carleton University. After a stint in the army, he went to the University of New Brunswick to earn an MBA. It was there he fell in love with academic research, studying how the word-of-mouth process worked in a marketing context.

“I was like a kid in a candy store,” he said. “I loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. It represented the start of a fascinating stream in a fascinating area that I wanted to pursue. It really became a passion.”

After that, Voyer repaid his debt to the military by taking a senior command appointment in artillery at CFB Petawawa. Still smitten with research, he was accepted into the PhD program at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business in 2001. During that time, he began teaching at the Royal Military College in Kingston, while wrapping up his degree in 2007. The following year, he became a brigade operations officer in London, ON, overseeing training of about 2,000 soldiers.

During his time in the military, Voyer participated in some of Canada’s most memorable modern historical events. In 1990, his battery was responsible for containing Mohawk leaders and handing them over to the provincial police force when they surrendered after an intense 11-week standoff over a land-claim dispute at Oka, Quebec.

“We were on the line,” he recalled. “That was very interesting. We were carrying 550 rounds of live ammunition. It was pretty intense. I remember that night very well.”

And in 2010, he went to the Canadian base at Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was there in a staff role, but his duties required him to go “outside the wire” from time to time into an environment on constant high-alert due to the ever-present threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). At least five Americans and one Canadian were killed while he was there.

“It’s a very intense, no-nonsense sense kind of environment,” he said.

The father of four daughters, the eldest of whom enters UWindsor this fall as a first year drama and English literature student, Voyer says his time in the military is done.

“That’s all she wrote,” he said. “My passion and my heart are in academia and have been for the last 15 years. This university is where I really want to be. This is a great business school and it’s a perfect fit for me. It’s a stimulating environment, a very collegial atmosphere, and I can’t wait to kick my research into high gear.”

That research is focused on consumer behaviour, social influence, and word-of-mouth advertising. He’s currently polishing up a paper from his dissertation that’s based on a gauge he developed called a Consumer Propensity to Deviate (CPD scale), which measures how likely a consumer will be to violate their regular consumption norms.

He’ll be teaching two courses this fall: an MBA course in marketing management and a second-year course in consumer behaviour.

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