Danielle Woodward, ’88
Assistant Professor of Management
What led you to being a professor?
During one of my first job interviews out of college I was asked to name my dream profession. I said: “I want to eventually be a professor.” I think the reason for that answer mostly derives from how much my KWC professors impacted me. (Professors like Dr. Bob Darrell (English), Margaret Britton (Sociology), Dr. Art Chesler (Economics), Dr. Mike Fagan (Psychology), Dr. Richard Weiss (Foreign Language), Drs. Beck and Sandefur (Religion), among others.)
That said, as time went by, I never thought my dream profession would become a reality. During the next three decades I held jobs in marketing research, payroll/pension accounting, and human resources/risk management. Then, one day — totally by sheer luck and coincidence – I landed an adjunct management professor position at Western Kentucky University. I was hooked.
As a WKU adjunct, I taught about one class per semester until I retired from my management position in 2016. Right before I retired, I submitted a resume to my alma mater of KWC to become an adjunct professor there. My resume sat in an applicant pool for adjuncts until December 2017. I began as a KWC adjunct professor in the spring of 2018, and then became a full time assistant professor in Fall 2019.
What are your favorite research topics and why do they interest you?
The reason I love management is because it requires both hard and soft skills. That said, prior to retiring from my management position, I conducted numerous statistical job analyses, compensation studies, cost/benefit analyses, regulatory research, risk management projects, and re-organizational studies. I love to keep abreast of these areas as well as incorporate them into my classes.
What was your favorite research project you’ve done and what you thought was the coolest/most interesting aspect of it.
I loved a lot of things about my work, but I think the most significant findings from research came from the dozens of statistical job analyses I conducted. I like how quantitative data (e.g., standard deviations, confidence intervals, etc.) helps to identify and articulate qualitative data (e.g., core competencies, workplace culture, and other key factors) that translate into a successful organization.
What’s the top thing you’ve learned through your research, thus far that you want to share with students?
Though my answer may sound cheesy and simple, it’s based on years of research:
I tell students to think of a 5-point star. One point of the star represents the Minimum Requirements needed to be considered for a job. However, it’s the other four points that get them the job and help them to grow their career. I tell students that a college degree is great, but it’s not enough. Employers need people who excel and beat out the competition in all five points of the star: i.e., Minimum Requirements, Communication, Leadership, Reasoning, and Efficiency. All jobs depend on some degree of these five core competencies. Along those same lines, I also harp to students about (1) how they need both hard skills and soft skills (because one without the other doesn’t do them much good, especially in business administration) and (2) how life without critical thought is a life waiting to trip them up.