WIL AZ 2017 Panelist Interview: Dr. Lisa Ordóñez, Vice Dean and Professor of Management & Organizations and Marketing, The University of Arizona

Posted by Amy Fowler Stadler on 5/24/17 12:00 PM
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Dr. Lisa Ordonez

What was your dream job as a child and why?

I guess I always wanted to be a teacher.  I did not know what a professor was then, but I wanted to help people learn.  Now, I not only teach, but I get to create an environment to help people learn.  So, I guess I am living my dream.

What has been your biggest professional challenge as a female leader?

I have to walk a fine line between being in charge and not being nice. I have to be seen as a leader but at the same time not over-power.  I have to be seen as feminine without looking too weak.  Luckily, I forget to notice what is going much of the time and focus on the key issue in the moment.

Where did you go to college and what was your first job out of school?

I had two “real” jobs before going to college—working at KFC and the men’s wear section at Kmart. I can still do a “Blue light special” announcement over 30 years later!  Then I went to college and never took a “real” job again (and that includes what I am doing now) since I went straight through from undergrad to PhD to Professorship.            

Tell me about your professional career track?

Luckily, I get to have many jobs within the same career.  I became an assistant professor at the University of Arizona Eller College in 1994 and taught courses and conducted research.  Then I was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2000 and then to full professor in 2007.  Finally, I was appointed Vice Dean in 2015, which is essentially the COO for the business college.

What advice do you have for young female professionals?

Make sure you create a network and are known for quality.  Do not assume that people know what great work you are doing—get others to tell your story (so you don’t look like you are bragging).

Any advice on how to achieve a happy work-life balance?

I would be lying if I said I had this figured out.  Basically, I do the best I can as mother, wife, and dean/professor and fill the role that needs filling most urgently.  So, it is not a balance but a juggle—some balls are in the air, while others are in my hand.  I just hope that I do not let the balls drop on my head in the meantime!  Fortunately, I have a very supportive partner with my husband (Leamon) and we have taught our sons (Leamon,17 and Langston, 11) to be very independent—they cook, wash their clothes, clean, etc.

Topics: Women In Leadership