This is the first of a four part blog series on adjusting to rapid onset change in a time of Covid-19 and how you can adapt to the potentials of this challenge by doing a deeper analysis into a new way of working and living.
Alumni Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Melleny A. Andrews
Alumni Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Melleny A. Andrews
This week’s spotlight focuses on Dr. Melleny Amber Andrews. She is a School of Advanced Studies alumnus, having completed her Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership in 2017. Dr. Andrews is a member of the Center for Organizational Research. She serves as a Marketing Manager at the United Parcel Service (UPS).
We hope you enjoy our online conversation about her doctoral experience, current professional growth, and advice for doctoral students!
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What was the defining moment that led to your decision to pursue your doctorate?
I have always considered myself a lifelong learner and after receiving my MAED, I continued to study leadership and different leadership styles. I was especially interested in servitude leadership and how that applies to managing and developing others. I was working full time for my organization and thought I can do this to help in my knowledge of leadership and also researching and helping others. Two major events led me to pursue my doctorate degree. In 2008 the fall of the economy hit me hard in that I thought to myself what would happen if I were to lose my job tomorrow?? I made a choice to go back to school and achieve my Masters in Adult Education Curriculum and Design. After I had completed the program I thought to myself…what now?? I knew that I wanted to keep on learning and researching and I also thought how can I make a difference and in some way help others. So, I took a leap faith and in 2010 I started the Doctorate Program in Leadership Organizational Management. I pursued my doctorate to continue learning, gaining experience in phenomenology and qualitative research that could potentially influence change in my organization as well as research women entrepreneurs who were successful, single heads of households so that I could share that information with other women wanting to find a work/life balance.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your doctoral journey?
There are so many lessons I have learned from this journey. Being persistent, well organized and dedicated are the keys to success. Completing the coursework and depending on team members to complete their part was critical and was very difficult for me to depend on others to finish their part of the team project. I always wanted to jump in and finish the project when it got close to the deadline of submission. However, this taught me patience and I have taken this into my professional life in that you have to work as a team and everyone has a different point of view, a different type of urgency on how they complete projects and was an eye-opener. I started to work with people differently in that I listened more, encouraged others more to speak their mind and was more aware of how to identify different work styles to help them understand their style and how to develop it. I gained valuable experience in phenomenology research including identifying an issue, organization, creating a measurement for evaluation of the issue, the IRB process, Interviewing, the QRM process and core topics. I learned to never give up even when you are told that you need to change your topic, your problem, your type of research. Stick to what you believe in! There were times phenomenology was questioned and I had to defend over and over as to why my study was a Phenom. At times I questioned whether I could finish my doctoral journey and every time I felt discouraged overwhelmed and defeated someone would encourage me to not give up and to keep going. During the research process, I had an A-Ha moment in that I realized that I did not just want to achieve my Doctorate to have a degree on my wall. I realized that the study I was doing could help other women and that moment gave a renewed passion and desire to learn everything I could to help others by completing the study. It re-energized me and it made me look at my study/research in a new light. Not just one of completing it but one of completing it with a passion and sharing it with others!
I learned to believe in my mentors such as my committee members, my chair, those that supported me in my journey, my classmates, my family, and friends. Those are the people that are the ones that will support you and see you through to the end. The good, the bad, the ugly and will be there supporting you when you cross the finish line.
What enhancements have you seen in your leadership capabilities?
I have a connection with Robert Greenleaf’s definition of servant leadership. The servant-leader model is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first; perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. (Greenleaf, 1977). My leadership has been inspired by the doctoral journey through the use of research to support my goals as well as remembering the importance of developing others within my organization with a servitude leadership style.
How has your doctoral experience changed your personal/professional life?
During the doctoral journey I lost several friends due to the fact that I could not attend social functions most weekends. My nights and weekends were dedicated to research/writing and coursework. I had to make the decision to research after my day job at night and to write on the weekends. Eventually, a lot of calls to attend functions stopped. I became the person that never wanted to attend anything and a lot of people thought I would not finish. However, I also learned that I had a lot of people cheering me on! My family and close friends were so supportive during my journey and my mother who always encouraged me that I could do it because she, as a single mother, completed her PhD.
Tell us about your current research project(s).
I am currently working on a journal article for peer review for small businesses that focuses on men and women-owned businesses. My study was focused on women-owned businesses that were single heads of households and I want to expand the research to include men on small businesses and the need for a work/life balance.
Have you presented or published your findings? If so, where can we learn more?
My dissertation is available in ProQuest and was published with Scholar’s Press in Germany in 2017. I have also written a book on women entrepreneur that is currently published by Balboa Press and Amazon (US/UK) in 2018. I am currently working on a publication of my findings in a peer-reviewed business journal.
What do you think the long-term implications will be for the project results?
The findings of the study should bring more material to small businesses for work at home adults. I want to add to the body of research to help others achieve a work/life balance
What was the defining moment that led to your decision to pursue this research?
I began my Doctoral journey in 2010 and I attended my first residency in Atlanta, Georgia. During this residency, I had in my mind a “passion” for a certain topic that I wanted to write about which was the glass ceiling. However, during the residency, we did role plays for our perceived topics to identify any biases that we might have towards our topic. I realized that the topic I had chosen was one that I wanted a certain outcome and that was not how a dissertation topic should be approached. Along the course of my journey, my research developed towards women wanting a work/life balance to attend their children(s) activities while maintaining the home. I thought the research could other women.
What’s next for you now that you are a doctor?
My next step is to continue to revise my dissertation and publish in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, I want to speak at Women events. I would not have been able to complete my study if it had not been for all of the women groups who helped me identify female business owners that had been in business six years or more and were the Head of Household for my study. There is not a database that discloses this information and I had to network with the different organizations for referrals and or suggestions. I would like to become a speaker to women’s groups on how to start a home-based business to achieve a flexible work schedule to meet the demands of taking care of a family while being the breadwinner.
What advice would you give to a prospective or current SAS doctoral student?
My advice is to never give up and keep an open mind to the topic, research design, methodology throughout the process and the advice of your Chair and Committee Members. Organizational skills are a must. Depend on your teammates while completing your coursework and if possible make a goal of one written page every other night and 3 on the weekends. Believe me, it adds up quickly and makes it not overwhelming. Stay engaged with others that have gone through the doctoral process, your teammates and colleagues. Find similar dissertations within the last few years that are similar in research design. In closure, you have to have the support of your family and friends and this is a process that requires a lot of “you” time to finish. If you must take a break. Take a break!! Then jump right back in with passion and a sense of purpose. During your residencies, network, exchange contact info, stay in touch, join a support group on Facebook. Others are going through the same process and I would not have made it through without the encouragement of some of my colleagues that I had met during my residencies. It is imperative that you know you are not alone when challenged with obstacles and or have questions. It will all be so worth it when you finish and put on your regalia. You go through your life as a “student” and the first time someone calls you a Doctor is because you earned it and are considered an “expert” in your field of study. You will feel tremendous pride for your accomplishment. Then, take a long vacation because you so earned it!!!
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