If you ask a man what he intended to be when he grew up, and he shares “a military officer”, believe that he has intention to be a solid and effective leader with a conviction to oversee a successful outcome. This was Daewoo Park’s childhood dream. While Park, who comes from a line of military officers and served in the military for two years, is no longer in the Army, he is a leader in the world of business education. It is with his guidance that the College of Business at Northern Illinois University has recently set sail to change.
Park is no stranger to transformation, starting with his own. After his time in the service, Park began working as a marketing representative for IBM, who was on the helm of the technological industry’s uprising. It was here that he learned about computers, technological information and technological transformation. Ultimately, this position gave light to a new dream for Park. It inspired him to pursue a path of working in marketing; specifically, he wanted to be a director of marketing.
Park left IBM and came to the US in 1984 to earn a Master of Business Administration with the University of Texas, Austin. Soon, he was offered a teaching assistant position, assisting management professors. He credits this hands-on opportunity to providing him with a deeper knowledge of strategic management and leadership, as well as marketing, finance and accounting. He found himself motivated to acquire a Ph.D. in strategic management and innovation at Texas A & M University. Upon completion of his doctorate, Park started on yet another journey. This time he carried with him a wealth of knowledge he had acquired in his course of studies. It was his intention to inspire effective change and transform the world of collegiate instruction and the educational experience itself for students. Park’s devotion to modernize how students are prepared for the business world started showing up in full force at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was at Xavier University that Park transitioned from leading in the classroom as a professor, to becoming the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. Here he not only created innovative academic programs, but was gifted with 3.5 million dollars from Home City Ice for the entrepreneurship and innovation center. He and his team maintained an elite program that was ranked continuously at the top 25 of the nation. Twelve years after successfully overseeing this team, and watching his passions prevail among successful students, Park once again looked inside himself to ensure he was fulfilling his desire of personal growth. Determined to continue endorsing his passions, he considered expanding his collegiate leadership experience again. One who teaches change, must not fear creating and experiencing their own. After 23 years, Park made a bold shift in his career. He accepted a position at Hawaii Pacific University.
Park would once again gear up to take on the challenge of adapting to a new culture and environment in his role as the Business Department Chair. Park spent nearly four years with the university, where he again began to reflect on his passions, and assess whether it was time to make a shift again. He and his wife decided they should relocate back on the mainland. However, one does not just casually leave Hawaiʻi.
With careful consideration, Park and his wife agreed to identify opportunities that would be of value for them to relocate to the mainland. Park explains NIU College of Business was attractive to him because it had a high reputation for its academic and MBA program. He was drawn to the program’s focus on digital transformation, data analytics, and innovative transformation. Specifically, he notes that the emphasis on innovation, data analytics, and digital marketing stood out most. Additionally, the school’s high reputation in marketing, accounting, finance and management set the school apart from many other institutions. He says the strong alumni network, and connection of businesses, combined with being located close to Chicago really appealed to him. The fact that the College of Business at NIU could inspire such a revolutionary leader as Park to relocate from Hawaiʻi, is a testament to the school itself.
As the fall semester of 2020 is set to emerge for the NIU College of Business, so does a progressive sophisticated plan led by Daewoo Park for the graduate program. This plan recognizes the challenges and shifting business paradigm of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and takes it on aspiringly. He notes that, “it is easy to devise a plan, but without successful implementation, nothing will happen.” In relation to tactics and strategy, Daewoo has not delayed putting change in motion. Park, whose positive and friendly character is contagious, repeatedly praises his faculty, colleagues and students for the changes that have been and will be implemented. He notes that the team who has helped to identifying areas that can be built upon, or modified, has worked selflessly and cohesively to help execute the plan. Beginning last fall basic adjustments were made to the program. This past spring semester the college began innovating and repositioning its graduate level curriculums. This coming semester, a modern platform materializes in all four areas of graduate studies to include new learning goals, objectives, new course models, as well as instructor preparation. Park reiterates that these changes are “carefully designed with focus on the college’s unique competence and resources,” including excellent faculty, and outstanding relationships in the business world.
From a structural standpoint, offerings will be more adaptable and align with the demands of recent times. They will complement the intentions of those who are current professionals with a busy lifestyle but want to continue their education. An online program will replace the previously offered evening program for the MBA. From a curriculum standpoint, as Park mentions, changes in the business world mandate a mirrored transformation in curriculum. He speaks to the importance of being certain that the information being provided to students is relevant, in sync with the times and provides tools for navigating the future. “We believe that differentiation is the key word for our changes. We have a plan to differentiate our program against competing schools.” The new curriculum has been mindfully assembled with critical questions that focus on ensuring each student is prepared. Park shares the key components for success of students are “knowledge, competencies, and skills of agile leadership, sustainable innovation, entrepreneurial perseverance, strategic transformation, renewal and ethical stewardship, so that they can succeed in the business world.“ Park expounds on this explaining that under newer instruction models, students will acquire a stronger skill set to distinguish between current demands and indicated future trends. Park declares that these new business instruction prototypes will successfully place NIU College of Business graduates apart from those of other schools. As Park points out, the world is shifting quickly, and it is the position of the school to cultivate an educated mind that can synchronously do so.
The program doesn’t end in the classroom for students. The college has over 56,000 area alumni and a large number of business relationships in the Chicagoland area. The relationships play a large role in being supporters of the college, faculty and the students. The connections allow students direct opportunities for networking and offers professional possibilities for employment or career advancement.
Park adds that the graduate program has grown in participation and shares a high level of positive feedback. Both current students and alumni enthusiastically introduce the program to friends, family and colleagues.
So how does this entrepreneurial leader in the world of business education find time to quiet his own mind, while implementing and renovating a graduate program? Park embraces his hobby of playing the Ukulele. “One of the things I really love from my four years in Hawaiʻi: the music.” He cleverly observes that music is made up of many elements: rhythm, balance and harmony. It is no surprise that this gentleman who once had a dream of being an officer can clearly identify all of the working parts that need to come together in unison for form a melody. As for him, these are the characteristics of such a leader. Simply put, Park is a man that understands how to create and distinguish what success is and he’s doing an outstanding job of exactly this as the Associate Dean of the NIU College of Business.
For more information on the graduate program or Daewoo Park, Ph.D. find the following links:
Contributed by Rachel Schmit