Why I teach

Sandra Speck

Department Chair and Professor of Marketing

What inspired you to be a university professor?
As an MBA student at the University of Wyoming, one of my marketing faculty members suggested to me that I consider going on for a Ph.D. as he thought that I had the skill set to be a successful professor. At that time all l I could think about was getting done with school and making some money. I had gone straight through my undergraduate education in French and then my Masters in Business Administration course work and was really tired of being a poor college student. After working for AT&T as a market administrator and serving a stint in the Air Force as a health care administrator, I decided to revisit the idea of being a college professor. The inspiration for this came from the realization that, after all was said and done, I still had a passion for teaching and for life-long learning, both of which are integral to the pursuit of a career in academia. To be required to conduct research in an area of one's own choosing and to engage in the endeavor of learning with students ultimately struck me as a meaningful and fulfilling way to live one's life.

Why teach in a university setting?
While I truly enjoy the research enterprise and view it as an essential aspect of being a faculty member, I cannot begin to express what being in the classroom means to me, as well as to have the good fortune of having meaningful relationships with students outside the classroom, as well. I am one lucky woman. I want my students to understand the implications of what we're doing within business, and specifically marketing, and the impact those actions have in the global marketplace. There are unintended consequences of our business activities; in the case of my area of research that ramification is the negative impact on cultural values in other countries.

If you weren't a university professor what do you think you would be doing? I'd probably be working as a senior member of a marketing team with a company, making really great money, but working very, very long hours on work that would not be nearly as meaningful as the calling I have chosen as a university professor. On a lighter note, I would be a country singer given that I sang with a country band in Laramie, Wyoming when I was a student at the University of Wyoming.

What has teaching taught you about yourself?
I think that teaching has taught me that I genuinely do need to share my curiosity and passion for learning and for my discipline with others, particularly my students. I am definitely a "people person" who thrives on that palpable energy that is derived from the classroom exchange between student and teacher.

What is the most difficult aspect of teaching?
Perhaps, for me, the most difficult aspect is accepting that not everyone shares my passion for marketing and that not everyone is willing to apply themselves to its study. I want to see every student be successful, but that is not always the case.

Is there an identifying moment where you knew you had a pronounced positive impact upon a student?
Actually, I have been blessed with many such moments. The wonderful thing about this calling is that one has the opportunity to interact with students both in and out of the classroom. I have had many conversations with students in my office that have confirmed for me that being not only a teacher, but also a mentor for students is the most worthwhile activity in which I could possibly engage.

What career/life messages do you try to impart upon your students?
I challenge students to remember to consider the ramifications of the success of the activities in which we engage in business in the U.S. and that they are not always positive. I encourage them to believe that, though they are only one person in an organization, they can and should weigh in and make a difference in terms of the ethicality of the decisions being made in their department and by the organization as a whole. Related to that, I want them to think about the importance of living their life as a person of integrity, acting with the same set of values at work as they do in their personal life. In doing so, they can make the world a better place for everyone in their sphere of influence. I truly believe that.

What do you want students to take from their ISU educational experience?
I want them to have confidence in themselves and the contributions that they are equipped to make based on the knowledge that they've developed as a student at the College of Business at ISU. They should be proud of who we are as a Uiversity and what they've accomplished through their efforts here. The world is their oyster, so to speak, and the opportunities facing them are endless.

IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY

921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209