A Head for Business

A Head for Business

Shawnta Friday


Title:
Associate Professor, Management, Florida A&M University, School of Business and Industry, Tallahassee, Fla.

Education: Ph.D., Management, Florida
International University; Master of Business Administration (MBA), Florida A&M
University; B.S., Business Administration, Florida A&M University

Age: 35

When Shawnta Friday was an undergraduate in the School of Business and Industry at Florida A&M University, her professors were dazzled by her acumen in finance and marketing.

Today her former professors, now her colleagues, still shake their heads in disbelief. The finance whiz kid switched gears and is back at her alma mater — not as a student, but as a professor teaching operations management.

Changing fields after business school is not uncommon. Students graduate and work for several years, broadening their interests and their vision. After graduating from FAMU with an MBA, Friday worked for EDS system engineering and McNeil Consumer Products Co., a division of Johnson & Johnson. Through working she learned a lot about people.

“Getting my MBA helped me be more of a generalist,” Friday says. “I made the switch from quantitative to behavioral.” She earned a full MBA scholarship to attend FAMU’s business school and then went on to pursue her doctorate in management at Florida International University in Miami.

She is now a popular associate professor of management at FAMU’s School of Business and Industry.

“She’s the type of professor that students like — young and extremely energetic. She’s an excellent role model and has great rapport with the students,” says Dr. Charles L. Evans, director of graduate academic programs at FAMU. But Friday is also firm and requires a lot from her students, he adds.

She also is drawing attention for her research, which focuses on diversity, mentoring and organizational issues in team building. Much of her work has examined the value of women having female mentors. But she also is re-examining research done on minorities in the workplace over the past 20 years.

Friday recently returned from a year’s leave on a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship through the Florida Education Fund. Her research challenged past findings regarding minorities’ job motivation and job satisfaction. Part of the problem, she says, is the research “didn’t look at the bigger picture.

“Much of it was disturbing,” she says. A lot of the research was inconsistent.

Little study was done on Hispanics. But Friday contends that the challenge still exists in finding the right setting for researching minorities and their jobs. She is optimistic about her recent research with the Miami Police Department, which examines issues such as job satisfaction and employment discrimination.

Friday is finishing two books she plans to self-publish. One book is titled A.C.T.I.O.N. — Aligning, Connecting and Transferring Individual and Organizational Needs. The book addresses how to align personal career goals with one’s company goals. The other book is titled S.P.I.R.I.T. — Strategically Planning to Integrate the Roles Individuals Take On. The book, in journal format, helps readers define and set goals in varied roles as employees, parents, sons, daughters, friends and volunteers.

A native of Miami, Friday found her career inspiration within her own home. Her father is a professor of business management at Florida International University, and her mother is a schoolteacher.

“My parents always told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do,” Friday says, adding that the advice came in handy as a doctoral student.

“I was the only Black in the program and one of two females,” she recalls. “I was also very young, only 25.” During this time she overheard racist comments from other students.

“People were not accustomed to seeing a young female Black student in honors classes,” Friday says. “But these comments became a driving motivating factor to excel.”

— By Eleanor Lee Yates



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