Students Staff

08 September 2014

A tribute to Heather Hopfl

Professor Heather Hopfl

Professor Heather Hopfl

Heather Hopfl, who died on 3 September, was a Professor of Management at the University of Essex and a Visiting Professor at UvH, Utrecht; Rotterdam School of Management; Erasmus University and the University of Canberra.

She was also a Visiting Professor at the University of South Australia for over twenty years. Heather also held visiting posts at the universities of Warsaw and Trento.

During her time at Essex, Heather served for several years as Head of the Management group, and also worked as an active member of many University committees, including Senate.‬

Prior to becoming an academic, Heather worked in a number of different jobs and fields including working on the design of the Thrissell letter sorter with a large engineering company in Bristol, as an Economics teacher at a Liverpool college, as tour manager for a theatre company and as a researcher with ICL, Logica and the (then) DHSS. During the 1990s, Heather worked with British Airways on the development of a safety culture, and on a semiotic audit of the company's brand image.

Throughout her academic career, Heather published widely on social and organisation theory, drawing particularly on French feminist writing and phenomenology. She played a leading role in the development of research on aesthetics and ethnography within management and organisation studies and had a long-standing interest in Catholicism, particularly religious symbolism and sensibility.

Her most recent writing encompassed topics including the cultural significance of heroines, women's writing, embodiment and the relationship between gender, management and leadership. In characteristically mischievous style, Heather explains in a recent publication how, on attending a formal lunch at which she was to be awarded a prize for a paper she had written on women in management, she arrived at a gentleman's club in London to be told that she could only be permitted entry if she was signed in by a male member. Always one to end on a wry smile, Heather recalls how the irony had amused her ever since.

Heather played a formative role in shaping the editorial direction of several academic journals, including Culture and Organization, of which she was a former co-editor, Gender, Work and Organization and the Journal of Organizational Ethnography. She was a valued and active contributor to various academic networks and communities, particularly the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (SCOS), of which she was a former Chair, the European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) and the British Academy of Management (BAM), of which she was a Fellow.

Heather was a particularly gifted teacher; throughout her career, she inspired many of her undergraduate students to undertake doctoral research and to set out on academic careers. She pioneered the teaching of management psychology at Essex, with her primary interests being in bringing insights from dramaturgical, psychoanalytic and feminist perspectives to the study of management and organisations.

As well as making her home in north Essex, Heather lived in the north east of England with her husband, Professor Harro Hopfl. Here they enjoyed the rich countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, the Cleveland Hills and the many country towns in the area. She leaves two sons, George and Max.

Heather’s warmth and generosity will be remembered by her many friends and colleagues, and her writing will continue to inspire those working within the fields of management and organisation studies for many years to come. ‬

Heather's colleagues at Essex Business School are planning to establish permanent commemorations in her memory, specifically aimed at encouraging and inspiring current students and early career researchers.

Professors Philip Hancock, Melissa Tyler, Steve Linstead and colleagues from Essex Business School

A requiem mass for Heather takes place in Stockton-on-Tees at 10am on Thursday 11 September, for family and close friends. Floral tributes, if desired, can be sent c/o Crake and Mallon Funeral Service, 45 Norton Road , Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 2BU, or donations to Butterwick Hospice, Middlefield Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS19 8XN.

Heather’s colleagues are organising a commemoration at the University’s Colchester Campus on the afternoon of Friday 26 September. More details will be available shortly. The University flag will be flown at half-mast on the day of the commemoration as a mark of respect.

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