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prah Winfrey said a teacher is the reason she became a talk show host and created a business empire.

Anchorman Brian Williams said a teacher “turned him around,” pulling him out of a directionless life and into one with drive and curiosity.

The truly remarkable educators we encounter do more than dole out facts and grad school recommendation letters.

The W. P. Carey School of Business has plenty of great professors. Here is a look at what students have to say about a few of them.

Ensuring students make the right connections
George Heiler (BS Computer Information Systems/Finance/Supply Chain Management ’19) earned three concurrent degrees at ASU, a feat achieved by only about one-tenth of 1% of all ASU students, but the professor who most changed his life didn’t teach in any of his three degree departments.
Chris Neck headshot
Chris Neck, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, earned Heiler’s gratitude several ways. First, he was a great teacher. “Not once in my 180 credits of undergrad at ASU did a professor remember as many names and personal details about their students,” Heiler says, despite their classes being half the size of Neck’s. “It made people confident enough to participate — even with 200-plus peers watching and listening.”

Neck gave Heiler and other students the chance to help write a textbook by interviewing real-world business managers who’d been Neck’s students. “They were overjoyed to help Dr. Neck out and vividly remembered his class” years later, Heiler explains. “I was shocked at the sheer number of people Dr. Neck was able to keep in touch with and help out over the years.”

Neck helped Heiler and two of his fellow students, too: He put them in touch with a seasoned information technology expert who wound up partnering with these younger men on a company that provides data analytics services. “Dr. Neck knew there would be a good synergy, and he connected us gracefully,” Heiler says. “Then, he supported us in creating a thesis project that led to the eventual creation of our software consulting firm.”
Bringing up a budding entrepreneur
Denise Napolitano (MBA ’20) encountered plenty of skepticism from fellow students when she started talking about her dream of owning a coffee roasting business and using the proceeds to help others. “My metrics for success were never measured in dollars, but by the impact that we could make in our community,” Napolitano says. “I didn’t plan on finding investors or growing a business to sell for millions, but this is what most people expect from entrepreneurship students.”

It was programs and people at the W. P. Carey School of Business that helped her launch and grow Empower Coffee Roasters, which provides high-quality specialty coffee for consumers while working to empower women through education and opportunity.

Doug Olsen headshot
First, Napolitano discovered her altruistic business goals were attainable and more common than she realized when MBA students at W. P. Carey founded the first academic chapter of Conscious Capitalism, an organization with the mission of elevating humanity through business. Next, she got hands-on help from teachers.

Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Marketing Doug Olsen, “my professor for Customer Centric Research and Analytics, has made a significant and lasting contribution to my venture,” she says. “Professor Olsen helped me to carefully consider the types of questions I should ask potential customers to gain the most value when building my brand and product offerings.”

Olsen guided Napolitano as she created a survey tailored to her fledgling company, which allowed her to effectively target customers. “Professor Olsen has remained engaged in our progress and regularly checks in to see how we are progressing,” Napolitano says.
Thomas Hollmann headshot
Eugene Schneller headshot
Olsen guided Napolitano as she created a survey tailored to her fledgling company, which allowed her to effectively target customers. “Professor Olsen has remained engaged in our progress and regularly checks in to see how we are progressing,” Napolitano says.

The other professor she credits with helping her succeed is Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing Thomas Hollmann, from whom she took Business-to-Business Marketing. From him, Napolitano learned to see the business through her customers’ eyes. “These are lessons I use every day in creating every social media post, email, and digital experience for our customers,” she says.

The other professor she credits with helping her succeed is Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing Thomas Hollmann, from whom she took Business-to-Business Marketing. From him, Napolitano learned to see the business through her customers’ eyes. “These are lessons I use every day in creating every social media post, email, and digital experience for our customers,” she says.
Opening the world and welcoming diversity
Eugene Schneller, professor of supply chain management, earned 2020’s John W. Teets award for outstanding graduate-level teaching. Eshani Sharma (MBA/Supply Chain ’20) nominated Schneller for the award because she said the professor encompasses what the award is all about: teachers who can open new worlds for their students and, by doing so, show those students how they, too, can take on the world.

Sharma took Schneller’s Strategy in Health Care class “not knowing what” she would get out of it. As it turns out, the professor’s teaching approach was a valuable lesson itself. Schneller, who’s a Dean’s Council of 100 Distinguished Scholar, taps his sizable network of associates in the health care field and brings in a variety of guest speakers to present real-world case studies. “The guest speakers were game-changing innovators in their fields who started much like us: as students who had an idea and ran with it,” Sharma says. “Seeing this diverse representation achieving accolades, I realized I didn’t have to come from a specific background or take a specific path to achieve the same.”

Sharma adds that Dr. Schneller “requires you to expand your mind and welcome diversity of thought. It is this appreciation of diversity and sense of empowerment that I think will carry me through my career journey moving forward.”
Eric Knott headshot
Identifying student’s natural talents
Bernard Aboagye (MiM ’19) could have taken a wide range of career tracks with his master’s degree. The support and vision of Eric Knott, management and entrepreneurship lecturer, helped this young scholar find his strengths and calling. “Professor Knott saw what I did not,” Aboagye says.

Aboagye is the first in his family to go to college, and he traveled far from his homeland, Ghana, to do so. As he moved through his master’s degree program and looked for his next step, a teacher recommended he get acquainted with Knott, who came to ASU after a successful run as a human resources executive, still consults in the industry, and is president of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) of greater Phoenix. “My professor recommended I meet Knott because he would be a good resource, so I made an appointment to see him.”

Although Aboagye wasn’t a student of Knott’s and there was no formal advisory relationship, the professor took the young man under his wing, hiring Aboagye as an employee in his consulting business and as a research fellow. In the process, Agoagye says Knott helped him pinpoint interests and identify natural talents. “He realized I can speak in public, and he started giving me opportunities,” Aboagye says. “He enabled me to polish my speaking ability and built confidence in me to speak in the midst of multitudes.”

While Knott had Aboagye working on compensation contracts — often for unions — he also saw the young man’s aptitude for employment law and negotiation, a suggestion that hit a chord with Aboagye and will be the focus of the doctorate-level studies he hopes to pursue. The young scholar still works for Knott, considers this professor a valued mentor, and hopes to be accepted into an ASU doctoral program. Eventually, Aboagye plans to return to Ghana and advocate for workers like his mentor has.

Nyasha Stone Sheppard headshot
A bad interview changes career path
Emily Capaldi (BS Marketing/Supply Chain Management ’20) almost didn’t get that Camp Carey student director job she held in 2018. After what Capaldi says was an awful interview, Nyasha Stone Sheppard, a program manager at ASU’s InnovationSpace, took a chance on the student and changed her life.

Better yet, the instructor nurtured her every step of the way. For instance, when it was Capaldi’s turn to challenge her fear of public speaking by giving a five-minute student orientation speech to some 500 people, Sheppard set aside 10 minutes each morning to watch Capaldi practice and coach the student along. “The morning of my speech, I practiced one last time in her office. The proud look on her face when I was done gave me the last bit of encouragement I needed,” Capaldi says. “After that day, speaking to large crowds was almost no problem for me.”

Being part of Camp Carey, a program designed to help first-year business students learn about the b-school, also affected Capaldi’s life forever. “It blows my mind to think how different the course of my life would have been if Sheppard hadn’t given me that chance by hiring me,” Capaldi says. The friendships and network Sheppard built into that job led to an internship, which in turn led to the job Capaldi holds today as a sales management associate at PepsiCo in Phoenix. “I attribute a lot of where I am now to the woman who believed in me before I believed in myself.”
Julia LaRosa headshot
Professor promotes deeper learning
“Helping people learn deeply while having fun.” That’s the LinkedIn headline for Julia LaRosa, clinical assistant professor and teaching lead of management and entrepreneurship.

Hannah Olsen (BA Business Communication/BS Supply Chain Management ’20) describes LaRosa as “marked with a fiery passion, fierce mentorship, and dedicated guidance.”

When Olsen approached LaRosa to direct her honors thesis, the professor’s schedule was already booked, but LaRosa made an exception and took a chance on her — “and I am so thankful she did,” Olsen says.

“With the mentorship and support from Dr. LaRosa, the impact of financial inclusion possibilities related to micro-financing became the topic I chose to write my thesis about,” says Olsen.

“Working with Dr. LaRosa, and having the chance to experience her enthusiasm for business firsthand, has made me eager to seek greater depths of research and understanding in this field.”

Robert Cialdini headshot
A salute to inspiring colleagues
Interim W. P. Carey Dean and PetSmart Chair in Services Leadership Amy Ostrom did her undergraduate work at ASU and felt like she’d “won the lottery” when Robert Cialdini, then a professor of psychology and marketing, agreed to take her on as a research assistant. Cialdini was already a rock star among scholars; to date, his books have sold more than 5 million copies in 41 different languages.

Because her father, Lonnie Ostrom, is also a W. P. Carey School marketing professor, Ostrom was leaning toward an academic career and wanted to learn more about research. She picked Cialdini to approach because she found his lectures riveting and his love of discovery contagious. “I learned so much about research working with Bob that I knew I definitely wanted to go to grad school and get a PhD,” she says.

Ostrom says Cialdini’s support opened doors. “Having Robert Cialdini write a letter of recommendation gave me my choice of schools,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Bob.”

Kate Eaton, another professor in the W. P. Carey School’s Department of Marketing, also did her undergrad at ASU and now has a colleague who inspired her teaching approach.

Art Budolfson headshot
Art Budolfson in the finance department was an incredibly supportive and intelligent instructor,” she says. “He had a way of building rapport with his students and then using that rapport to inspire them to go deeper.”

When Eaton signed up for her second class with Budolfson, she did so after the semester had already started. “I asked for an override to join the class several weeks late,” she recalls. Budolfson greeted her the first day with a manilla envelope containing notes for the several weeks of class she’d missed. “The fact that he took the time to gather all the notes together and print them out … I thought that was above and beyond,” she adds.

Today, Eaton tries to emulate that level of care. “This past semester, I had a student who missed a few quizzes, so I reached out to him,” she says. It turns out the student had fallen behind, felt overwhelmed, and was thinking of dropping her class. Instead, Eaton worked out a catch-up plan for him. “He was able to come back and pass the course.”

Remembering how Budolfson went the extra mile for her inspires Eaton to pay it forward. “Art serves as a great example of the type of faculty member that I want to be with my students,” she says.

The unforgettable professor
Bryce Druvenga (BS Agribusiness ’10) says his favorite professor’s “personality and teaching style was remarkable, as I remember him today and wish I could still be in his classroom.”
Mark Manfredo headshot
Mark Manfredo, professor in the Morrison School of Agribusiness, got Druvenga excited about agricultural finance.

In May, Druvenga will be celebrating his 10-year anniversary at Farm Bureau Financial Services, where he’s a product manager. “Without professor Manfredo, I may have decided to go a different direction and I’m so glad that I didn’t,” he says.