"I’ve worn many hats in my career, from tech writer, project manager, director, and consultant."
Prior to joining the faculty at Luther, White worked with many types of businesses ranging from tech startups to global Fortune 500 service companies.
“I’ve worn many hats in my career, from tech writer, project manager, director, and consultant,” she says, “I’ve been fortunate to spend concentrated time with many talented people who taught me the importance of working hard and having fun at the same time. I try to bring this same ethic to my classroom through lots of discussion, stories, simulations, and group activities.”
Throughout her time in the information technology industry, White was drawn to roles where she could help others. And after over 15 years in the corporate world, she had a persistent, nagging feeling that she wasn’t yet doing her life’s work.
“After getting a master’s degree, I taught college courses in the evenings while keeping my day job as an IT consultant,” she says. “One night while driving home after teaching, I felt a strange but pleasant fluttering in my chest—something I’d never felt before. It was a joy that you feel when you love what you do.”
She continued to teach “on the side” and assumed it might be her second act when she retired from corporate life. But several years later, an opportunity emerged at Luther and she was thrilled to pursue her dream career earlier than she had hoped.
White loves teaching management because she believes its core principles have relevance to students’ lives whether they end up in the business world or not.
“We’re able to wrestle with many interesting questions, like ‘How do we work most effectively with people?’ and ‘What can we do if we have a terrible boss?’ or ‘How can we make group work less painful and more productive?’ and ‘How can we motivate ourselves and others to do our best work?’” she says. “Also, every day in the news we see stories of leaders who don’t behave responsibly. Students need to know how to manage themselves ethically in a world with so many pressures.”
One of the things White likes best about students is that they care about engaging and learning new things.
“I love the moments in the classroom when students are working on a business problem together and become really animated and passionate about the process,” she says. “I also appreciate those times when a student connects a concept in our management class to a course they’re taking in a different discipline. To me, that’s the beauty of teaching business at a liberal arts college.”
White also appreciates hearing from former students about how they’ve been able to directly apply things they learned at Luther to their new careers. “I’m also grateful for the mentoring and support of my colleagues,” she says. “As someone who still is quite new to Luther and the world of academia, their insights, patience, and good humor are invaluable in helping me improve my teaching.”
“We often hear that employers are disappointed that college students lack adequate professional writing skills when they enter the workplace,” White says. “Most believe it’s our responsibility as professors to help them in this area.”
White recently developed a J-Term business communication course to help Luther’s business department address this need and published an article on the topic in the Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice.