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2019 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Meghann Drury-Grogan, Fordham University (Gabelli)

Meghann L. Drury-Grogan

Associate Professor of Communications and Media Management

Fordham University Gabelli School of Business

Fordham University’s Meghann Drury-Grogan scored high enough to make this year’s P&Q Best 40 Under 40 Professors but then turned 40 before publication. Therefore, we’re happy to name her our lone honorable mention best 40 under 40 professor for 2019. Drury-Grogan had a balanced score across research and teaching and received dozens of very thoughtful nominations from alumni, current students, and her colleagues.

Current Age: 40 (Date of birth: March 3, 1979)

At current institution since what year? 2011

Education: Ph.D. & MA from Northwestern University; Higher Diploma in Business Studies from National University of Ireland; BA from Canisius College

List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Global Industry Project (Capstone Consulting Project), Professional Communication, Persuasive Corporate Communication, Leadership Communication, Global Business in Ireland, International Field Study, Transnational Application

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… in college, I could see the impact professors had on me and my fellow students. I remember the time and influence my own professors had on me. For example, I presented papers at academic conferences as an undergraduate under the guidance, which led me to go to graduate school for organizational communication at Northwestern University from my small Jesuit undergraduate institution (Canisius College). I knew I wanted to have that type of influence on students in the future to help them shape their careers and direction in life. I thought, “A job where I can have such an impact on someone’s life while researching and teaching about what interests me, as well as spending my days speaking to various audiences, e.g. students, professionals, and senior leadership, about the topics I research is the job for me!” To help someone gain new skills, build their confidence, and believe in themselves is an incredibly humbling experience.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

I research communication and decision-making behaviors on project teams. Recently, this work has examined cognitive artifacts and cognition changes on agile teams as well as applying quantum theories to these social phenomenon. I have found that agile teams naturally make decisions quickly, decisions can repeat past problems, and team members with experience often drive the decisions. Team satisfaction is also a key aspect of iteration objectives and success; team cognition changes from individual work to social interactions as an iteration progresses. My most recent findings are that we can apply quantum theory to communication studies on teams, thereby not just taking a sample of a population to study, but actually studying vast numbers of participants on a number of variables. This helps us avoid human error and bias in our research. We are now looking to apply quantum theories to actual communication and business problems to study real use cases.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be a consultant. I started my career as a Human Capital consultant at Deloitte Consulting. It was a very rewarding, albeit demanding, job. I traveled constantly to my various clients. I learned amazing project management and deliverable development skills that I still use today. Consulting is a challenging job, but you learn so much as you change projects and clients. For me, I would be back in that world if I wasn’t a professor researching communication and decision making with my organizational contacts and teaching my students in and out of the class in an applied way.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

I stand out as a professor as I am committed to applied learning and excellence in my students. I have high standards; I believe we can all achieve more than we think is possible, and I push my students to do just that. They regularly return to me saying how grateful they were for the level of dedication I had in giving them real-life, applied learning experiences with organizations and pushing them to succeed at more than they thought possible. To do that, I also maintain fair and consistent standards. Of course there are exceptions for emergency situations, but I believe in maintaining consistent standards in my expectations and grading for all students. This earns me their respect as they know what I am about and what I expect.

One word that describes my first-time teaching: Exhilarating!

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Balancing research, teaching, and service is challenging. At times you will be more focused on one over the other two. Just be sure to choose wisely when you forsake research for the other two (which at times you do) as research is an academic’s currency. But there is value and reward in teaching and service, and we must remember to commit to those pillars, as well as research. In fact, in my experience, it is my teaching and service where I have left the most lasting impacts with my students and colleagues. It is those opportunities where you really can influence someone and help them gain more confidence.

Professor you most admire and why: Dr. Michael E. Roloff, my doctoral dissertation advisor. He is a very old-school professor who lectures about research and articles while peppering in stories from his life to bring the research alive. He has an amazing ability to recall researchers and dates of publications and theories. He also perseveres in his beliefs when faced with adversity. Finally, he has always believed in me and supported me. He was always encouraging my ideas yet not leading them or taking them over. He allowed me to build my own path without leading me in the direction he would choose. I always knew that I could rely on him for that, and that mentorship was invaluable! I strive to do that for my own students today: guide and encourage them without leading them down the path I would choose so that they lead the life that they want.

STUDENTS:

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

I really enjoy students’ business acumen and their quest for real-world applications. It keeps you on your toes as you have to bring in current applications of the topics you are discussing, but it also makes for a much more rewarding discussion and class when we can apply concepts to current, real-world situations and organizations, especially those from their own experience too.

What is most challenging?

What is most challenging is when I have to convince students of “professional etiquette”. This includes how to dress appropriately when meeting professionals or attending industry events, including on-campus. It also includes why they should introduce themselves to guest speakers and attend a variety of events. For example, just because you are interested in marketing does not mean you shouldn’t take the opportunity to introduce yourself to someone in finance in a particular organization. They have contacts and all organizations have marketing roles; you never know who will put you in touch with whom. Students should consider everything they do in B-school as an interview: they should attend multiple events, meet as many people as they can, and grow their network. These are invaluable experiences and you never know where the relationships will lead you. I found my own job at Deloitte Consulting LLP through six degrees of separation: it started with an innocuous conversation with an engineering professor at Northwestern University. About 6 weeks later and 5 phone calls and lunches with his contacts, I was interviewing with Deloitte’s HR (and hired about 2 months later)!

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Proactive

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… consistent and fair. I have high expectations and standards, however I clearly communicate those expectations from the beginning. I strive to be fair across the board to all students. Once you start making one-off allowances, you are doomed because students no longer respect you or know what you expect of them.

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:

What are your hobbies?

Playing with my 3 small children, swimming (ideally at the beach!), hiking, traveling, eating international foods, reading, and doing yoga (which my kids do with me!). I love to go to different restaurants and try new foods, as well as explore art or science museums. With 3 small children that doesn’t happen as often these days, but I do try to make time for it when possible.

How will you spend your summer?

Working on research, exploring beaches, and hiking with my kids and husband. When the weather is good, we go on plenty of “adventures” outside together! It’s a great way to instill a love of fitness and fresh air at a young age.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Ireland – the landscape is breathtaking and the people are so warm and welcoming. I also love the beach, both in hot weather when you can swim and cold weather when you can still walk across the sand.

Favorite book(s): A Year in Provence, a memoir by Peter Mayle. The book is the story of his and his wife’s first year in Provence where they renovate a house, garden, and vineyard. The descriptions of the lifestyle, meals and food, as well as the learning of a new way of life are wonderful! I love reading about people’s stories when they move to new places and experience new cultures and cuisines. There is nothing like living in a new culture to not only learn more about that particular culture, but also more about your own culture and what makes you, “you”!

What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?

I am a huge fan of period dramas! I think it stems from 1 of my 3 college majors, which was English (I also majored in Organizational Communication and Art History). I focused on British Literature from the 18th and 19th centuries. Thus, I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey and Poldark. I have watched both series many times! I am fascinated by that time period in life where there were a huge societal changes as money and power were moving from the aristocracy to the middle classes. The old way of aristocratic life changed. Reading and watching about this phenomenon is fascinating as I learn how people coped and how their lives and livelihoods changed, in many ways for the better as opportunity opened up for so many more people.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: My absolute favorite song is Canon in D Major. I even wrote my own adapted version to play on the piano! However, I also love chill, house, 80’s and 90’s, rock and instrumental progressive pop/rock music. My favorite bands are U2 and the Saw Doctors, and I love The Piano Guys, Jim Brickman, or Yanni when I want more chilled out, instrumental music. For me, the music I listen to depends on my mood and what I’m doing. I can’t work while listening to music with lyrics as it distracts me. But that’s when my instrumental favorites come in handy!

THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… truly focusing on interdisciplinary work. As a communication scholar in a business school, my work has always been interdisciplinary, including when I was a consultant! I bring the knowledge of how people communicate and interact to information systems teams, technology implementations, and financial services projects to name a few. While business schools say they value this, often in practice I find I have to convince people of the merits of this focus. But I believe the future of business is interdisciplinary. Organizations require the silos and barriers between departments to break down as innovation comes from looking at things from unique perspectives.

In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?

Organizations need to do a better job at understanding the value of flexible work arrangements. Top talent will always find work, yet it is hard to find top talent! Organizations often seem reluctant to allow employees the flexibility to work from home at times or have flexi-arrangements. However, people’s personal situations are all different and changing. At times, employees can be more productive working from home versus in the office. Imagine all the time wasted commuting that someone could put towards work or their own personal needs. How much more satisfied would that employee be and therefore more willing to work? There is certainly value in being in the office, but I do think giving people the flexibility to live and work in a way that suits their current personal situation makes sense for organizations to have the best out of their employees.

Faculty and administrators say: 

“I have had the pleasure of working with Prof. Drury-Grogan for many years at Fordham University in a number of capacities. Most recently, we are working together on international courses and international strategy. She always goes above and beyond for our students. She is also a caring colleague that treats each person she works with the utmost respect. I am amazed at her high-level work ethic and how she manages to publish interesting articles, participate in our many conferences all while giving our students the attention they deserve. Prof. Drury-Grogan has won faculty awards as well as awards voted directly by the students. She is also very involved in the University where she serves in a number of committees such as Gabelli International Strategy Steering Committee and Curriculum Committee. believe that she is deserving of this honor and I nominate her 100%!”

“Professor Drury-Grogan’s unique teaching style made learning professional communication strategies and practicing public speaking fun and memorable. I was able to immediately put the concepts I learned into action during a Keynote Commencement speech at my undergraduate alma mater, Binghamton University. I was excited to share a copy of the recording with her, and thank her for her help and what we learned in the course. I have also shared what I learned with my intern, who gave a final presentation to our group on the last day of his internship. He wrote me later that year and thanked me for changing how he approached verbal communication and presenting. Lastly, I have build a career development course for employees at my firm around communication and presenting, borrowing many of the concepts I learned from Prof. Drury-Grogan’s class (DiSC, PCRA, 1-2 minute on-the-spot speeches on random topics/quotes/pictures, etc.). It has been extremely positively received by the C-Suite and is being put into place now (expected launch Summer 2019). I fully support Prof. Drury-Grogan’s nomination for P&Q Top 40 Under 40.”

“I would like to nominate Dr. Drury-Grogan for the 40 under 40 award. I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Drury-Grogan over the last year. As an academic advisor, I am constantly meeting with students who have nothing but incredible things to say about her courses. They are always requesting to join when her classrooms are full. Recently, I have been fortunate enough to assist her in teaching our MBA Capstone Consulting Project. She is extremely caring about the students, and is a wonderful leader. She has put together an industry project in the UK that is unmatched.”

DON’T MISS: MEET ALL OF POETS&QUANTS’ BEST 40 UNDER 40 PROFESSORS OF 2019