Faculty Facts


Kim Westermann

Assistant Professor of Accounting
Specialties: Auditing and accounting ethics

What is your favorite part about teaching at Cal Poly? I really enjoy the weekly round-table discussions I have with my graduate students – I learn a lot from them!

How do you know when a student is really career ready? I place high importance on professionalism and maturity in the classroom. Showing up on time and contributing thoughtfully in class are good signs that a student is ready to enter the work force.

What is the best business-related book you’ve ever read? How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Hands down.

What are your favorite parts about teaching at Cal Poly? I really enjoy the weekly round-table discussions I have with my graduate students – I learn a lot from them!

How have you Learned by Doing personally? In my ethics class, we read The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, where I ask of myself and of my students to recall personal experiences of dishonesty. We discuss (and practice) how to make more ethical choices. In my graduate class we read the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. Every day, I work to integrate the principles into my own life (e.g., remembering names, smiling, sincerely appreciating people) and encourage students to do the same.

What’s been your biggest challenge in your career? Balancing my “roles” as wife, mother, my own person (e.g., exercise, “me” time), researcher and teacher. I think I do a good job prioritizing, but ultimately I feel guilty about something different every day.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Life is a juggling act – keep the glass balls in the air and let the rubber one’s fall when you have to drop one.

Carlos Flores

Associate Professor of Economics
Specialties: Labor economics and econometrics
 
How has college changed since you were a student?
I attended college in Mexico, so my college experience as a student was very different from what Cal Poly students experience today. Technology has been one of the biggest changes. It is now possible to showcase the econometric techniques in real time, so students are able to see right away how to apply those methods.

How have you challenged your students?
I teach econometrics tools and methods typically taught in graduate programs to my undergraduate students, and I teach Ph.D. level topics to my master’s students. It’s great to see their satisfaction when they master truly advanced concepts.
 
How has your subject changed in the last few years?
Econometrics is an area that moves very fast, especially with the increased computational power now available. One has to continually read—or do research—to keep up with the continuous change in the field.

What are your favorite parts about teaching at Cal Poly?
Cal Poly students are extremely hard working, capable, and respectful. They do not complain about the amount of work or difficulty of my classes (even though the classes are hard and work-intensive). They really appreciate the opportunity of being at Cal Poly and the work the faculty put into developing their courses.

How do you know when a student is really career ready?
I think when they are able to complete tasks without a lot of handholding, and based on how they behave and interact with other people.

What qualities do you think are most important in a leader today?
Being compassionate and being a good listener. 

How have you Learned by Doing personally?
When teaching, you continually learn not only about teaching itself (What methods work best? How to best present a topic?) but also about the subject you are teaching. The excellent questions students ask force you to know the topics you teach very well, and also go beyond the basics.

What’s your favorite thing about San Luis Obispo?
The tranquility of the town and how close it is to nature. I also like the fact that everybody is very nice.

Jonathan York

Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Faculty Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Specialties: Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, senior projects

What industry position has made a big impact on you? CEO of a startup – total fear!

How do you know when a student is really career ready? A career-ready student is one who understands accountability and responsibility — say what you’re going to do, get it done and make sure that you are a valued member of the team.

What qualities do you think are most important in a leader today? I truly believe that the most important characteristic of any leader today is empathy — the ability to understand their customer, their colleagues and even their competitors.

How have your students changed recently? They are even more socially networked and distractible.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Way before there was a book with this title, one of my mentors told me I should “never eat lunch alone”. What he meant was that I needed to develop and nurture a broad network of people who I could draw upon in my challenges and rely upon to help the businesses I was running succeed.

What is your research focus at the moment? My research focus is on how university business accelerators can improve their success rates when working with startups created by quite young and inexperienced founders.

What’s your favorite thing about San Luis Obispo?The small-town feel, combined with the energy and enthusiasm of a university.

Bing Anderson

Associate Professor of Finance
Specialties: International, managerial and corporate finance; fixed income securities

How have you challenged your students? I’m introducing a currency trading component into my Global Financial Institutions and Markets class. I think my students will love it.

How has your subject changed in the last few years? The world of finance is always changing. Hedge funds and high frequency trading used to be very hot. These days, they are becoming less so.

What is your research focus at the moment? I am working on a few projects. In one of them, we try to use something similar to entropy in physics to measure economic freedom in a Marseille fish market.

What are your favorite parts about teaching at Cal Poly? We have a lot of very good students who are bright, well prepared and eager to learn.

What qualities do you think are most important in a leader today? Being able to insist on doing the right thing despite of pressures to the contrary.

How do you know when a student is really career ready? I think the best answer comes from the movie “Finding Nemo”:
Marlin: How do you know if they’re ready [to go out into the real world]?
Crush (the turtle): Well, you never really know, but when they know, you know, y’know?

What is the best business-related book you’ve ever read? Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre.

Barry Floyd

Professor of Management and Information Systems
Specialties: Information systems, database management, business modeling

What industry position has had the biggest impact on you? I was a manager in the Middle East and had people from Saudi Arabia, Palestine, France, England, Jordan, Canada, Egypt and the U.S. reporting to me.  What brought us together was our passion for technology in a field that was growing exponentially.

What is your research focus at the moment? I study women in technology and the difficulties women face in choosing majors and finding jobs. For three years, I’ve worked with wonderful industry partners, including alumni Gina and Brad Roldan, to hold “Preparing for the Workforce” events where women leaders in the tech industry speak at Cal Poly about key issues such as self-advocacy.

What are your favorite parts about teaching at Cal Poly? The issues I mentioned earlier encompass this. I really prefer a learn-by-doing paradigm with a focus on projects and teamwork. This approach is very effective in student learning and with the appropriate content; the students are well poised to enter the workplace as productive members on day one. That we have students that also embrace this and then are successful in their quest for an industry position makes teaching here a really stellar experience. There is nothing better than having a student tell you they just received a job offer from the company they have been targeting.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Never give up, never surrender. 🙂

What’s been your biggest challenge in your career? There is just way too much happening in the world to keep up with! Technology changes so very quickly. I am very interested in world events and issues and keeping abreast with world news is difficult. I really needed to be triplets.

What is the best business-related book you’ve ever read? “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, Bruce Patton and William Ury.

What’s your favorite thing about San Luis Obispo? The weather…coming from someone who was raised in Michigan, this is important.

James Valdez

Industrial Technology and Packaging Lecturer
Specialties: Industrial technology and packaging, entrepreneurship

What year did you come to Cal Poly? I graduated from Cal Poly in 1967 with a degree in technical arts and went on to earn my MBA at Pepperdine. I joined the industrial technology faculty at Cal Poly in 2003.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Never give up on a goal that is important to you.

How have your students changed in the last few years? They are brilliant, which motivates me to keep on top of my game.

What qualities do you think are most important in a leader today? Understanding how respect is the basis of good leadership.

What’s been your biggest challenge in your career? Patience.

What’s your favorite thing about San Luis Obispo? The wonderful quality of life and people.

How have you Learned by Doing personally? Practiced it all my life.

Allison Ellis

Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources
Specialties: Human resource management
 
How has college changed since you were a student? I think there is a greater emphasis on inclusion, collaboration and technological savvy that are a reflection of the changing workplace — one that is more diverse, team-based and global than ever before.

What has been your favorite moment from the last year of teaching? Seeing one of my students in my Human Resources Management class land a full-time HR job! It was very rewarding to see that the information she was learning in my class helped her to prepare for her interviews and impress those at her new organization.

What is your hidden talent or hobby? I snowboard!

What attracted you to Cal Poly? I grew up in Templeton and jumped at the opportunity to come back to the Central Coast. When I came to visit and learned about Cal Poly’s Learn By Doing philosophy and commitment to practical and impactful research, I knew it was a great fit both personally and professionally.

What are your favorite parts about teaching at Cal Poly? The students are so smart and really want to learn! I love hearing about students’ internships and work experiences and seeing how they connect that back to the topics we are studying.

How do you know when a student is really career ready? I know a student is career ready when they have not only mastered the materials and skills taught in class, but exhibit a sense of confidence and enthusiasm about trying things out for themselves.

Koushik Saha

Associate Professor of Industrial Technology and Packaging
Specialties: Food distribution and packaging, packaging fundamentals and senior projects

What attracted you to Cal Poly? The potential to be part of building a nationally recognized packaging program.
 
How has your subject changed in the last few years? There has been a major push to create packaging systems that reduce impact on our environment and food waste.
 
How have you Learned by Doing personally? I had never organized seminars or career fairs prior to Cal Poly. I just picked it up by doing it.
 
What’s your favorite thing about San Luis Obispo? Having breakfast at Bon Temps.

What position have you held in industry that had the biggest impact on you? Packaging Engineer at Kellogg Company R&D, Battle Creek. Working there made me realize that I didn’t want to work in the industry as it was limiting my ability to explore.

What is your research focus at the moment?  Identifying packaging technologies that reduce food waste during distribution.

What qualities do you think are most important in a leader today? Listen, follow, then lead. And have patience.

Lisa Simon

Marketing Lecturer
Specialties: Sales Development Program, Senior project, marketing fundamentals

Who is your go-to for faculty collaboration at Cal Poly? Sharon Dobson and I work closely together to further the Marketing Mentors program which pairs high achieving marketing students and underclassmen in the Principles of Marketing course.

What are your favorite parts about teaching at Cal Poly? I love connecting with students and getting to know the whole person who is sitting in my classroom.

How else are you involved with students on campus? I am honored to be the faculty advisor for Cal Poly’s chapter of the American Marketing Association and faculty coordinator for the Marketing Career Conference, where I work closely with students to develop their leadership, organizational and career-readiness skills.
 
What position have you held in industry that had the biggest impact on you? During my career, I’ve worked for a nonprofit, as an executive recruiter earning only a commission and for a large bank. All three organizations had a big impact on me! My heart is in nonprofit work, living on a commission taught me perseverance and working for a large corporation showed me how to be successful in a bureaucracy.

How has your subject changed in the last few years? Social media and digital communication have exploded, creating new opportunities and new challenges for marketers and for those who train the marketers of the future.

How do you know when a student is really career ready? Career readiness shows in the questions students ask, in their determination to tackle projects, in the excitement they demonstrate in learning and growing.

What is the best business-related book you’ve ever read?
Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

How have you challenged your students? I challenge my students by providing them opportunities to learn without spoon-feeding them. Although it can be frustrating for them, I provide guidelines for them to follow. Within those guidelines however, I encourage them to think and express themselves creatively and individually.

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