Congratulations on becoming Dean of the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine. What is your personal story?
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago as the oldest of 6 boys. In many ways my family and my experiences were pretty typical and to be quite honest I can’t say I had particularly great aspirations. My goal after finishing high school was to simply find a job and hopefully start a family. However, my family always stressed the importance of education and this created an expectation that a college degree was something I could achieve. I was very blessed to receive a scholarship from a philanthropic foundation that covered half of my tuition to attend Miami University of Ohio. My parents took out a loan to cover the other half of my first year’s tuition even though they were not in a position to help me beyond that first year. Keep in mind I had 5 brothers behind me they needed to support. That said, it meant a lot to me that they were willing to back me in this way. It really motivated me to take advantage of the opportunity.
I was able to walk-on to the track and field team my first year of college and after that first year I was able to earn an athletic scholarship that covered the other half of my tuition and allowed me to finish my undergraduate degree in management. My undergraduate experience changed my whole perspective on what was possible in my life.
How did you decide that you wanted to get your Phd and how did you go about it?
When I started college, I had no idea that being an academic was even a full-time job, let alone a profession. Fortunately, I had a wonderful professor when I was an undergraduate named Dr. Wesley King who took the time to exposed me to a career as an academic. I was also fortunate to become involved in the Ph.D. Project. These experiences motivated me to pursue my Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flager Business School. The opportunity to receive a world-class education at Miami University of Ohio and UNC Chapel Hill, along with the support of many mentors provided me with the skills and aspiration to have a global career.
You’ve worked at business schools in Melbourne Australia, Java Indonesia, and Wellington, New Zealand before coming to UC Irvine. What drew you to working internationally as a global educator?
Growing up in Chicago I could have never imagined being able to work in over 25 different countries in six continents. However, when I started my Ph.D. program one of mentors, Dr. dt ogilvie, told me “you can do anything in the world with a Ph.D.” Her words stuck with me. Years later I was invited to teach in an EMBA program at the University of Łódź in Poland for several weeks, despite having zero experience teaching internationally or in Poland. To be honest, at that time I did not even have a passport. However, I accepted the offer and it was an amazing experience which increased my interest in learning about different cultures and understanding business from a global perspective. This prompted me to explore full-time opportunities outside of the USA which led to my family and I living in Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand.
Your research examines the impact of “talent pipelines” on organizational and community outcomes. Can you tell us more about that, and how the GlobalMindED community can help?
If you look at a struggling company what you often notice is that they have a “broken” talent pipeline, meaning they find it hard to recruit, develop, utilize or retain talented individuals. Interestingly, the same can be said of communities that are experiencing economic hardship or major social issues. My research focuses on how organizations and communities can develop strong talent pipelines that support positive organizational and/or community outcomes. A key finding of my work is that developing cross-sector partnerships is a very successful way to create innovative initiatives that solve complex business and social issues. Thus, I would encourage the GlobalMindED community to think about three questions. First, what are the major social challenges being faced by my community or the communities of my customers? Second, who are the various organizations (e.g., companies, government, not-for-profit organizations) in my community that have a vested interest in addressing these challenges? Third, how can I develop partnerships with these organizations that can produce innovative solutions that will enhance organizational and community outcomes?
What do you most want to share with the younger generation?
We are at a very important point of reflection in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and various natural disasters over the last year have forced all of us to think about and perhaps challenge many of the assumptions that previously shaped how our communities operated. I would encourage the current and the next generation to engage in the work of developing new narratives and assumptions. Narratives that start with an assumption of diversity and inclusion, sustainability and a holistic consideration of health and well-being.