Meet Dr. Ladner
"My goal as a professor is to not only teach business theory, but also to teach what really happens..."
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Dr. Ryan Ladner’s professional experience began with PepsiCo, where he participated in a management trainee program with Frito-Lay. Through the program he was promoted to the position of District Sales Leader. He managed sales and logistics for a geographic area with annual sales of $10 million. He dealt primarily in marketing, sales, and logistics and provided support to large account stores such as Walmart, Kroger, and Dollar General.
After Dr. Ladner’s tenure at Frito-Lay, he felt he was called to higher education. He became the Director of Online Operations for Bryan College and was promoted shortly thereafter to the Director of Enrollment. He later decided to teach full time as an Assistant Professor, initially at Bryan College, and then at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He now serves as the Associate Professor of Business/Department Head/Endowed Chair at John Brown University, where he teaches courses in the undergraduate and graduate programs. He also works on consulting projects for various colleges in the areas of higher education strategy and digital marketing.
What influenced your decision to become a college professor?
I learned quickly that I enjoyed teaching when I made presentations in high school and college. I felt drawn to the practice, and many of my family members are educators, so I guess you could say teaching was in my genes. When I was in the corporate world, my favorite thing to do was training and development. As I began to recognize this, my “ideal” plan was to work in the corporate world for 10+ years and then go back and get my doctorate and move into college teaching. However, when my wife and I were expecting our first child, I made a decision to leave corporate america and pursue my dream of becoming a college professor.
What surprised you the most when moving from the corporate world to teaching in a college?
Speed. Education, especially in relation to change, moved at a much slower pace than I was accustomed to. I came into teaching as a non-academic. I did not understand a great deal about research and scholarship and was confused when things didn’t happen quickly. Now I think I got the hang of the pace of education and I actually have enjoyed the process.
In general, what should students expect from one of your classes?
I hope they expect to get a balance of theory and practice. My goal as a professor is to not only teach business theory, but also to teach what really happens. I want to blend the two, and I want students to share their experiences. I also don’t really like to lecture. So that sometimes surprises students. I would much rather engage in a discussion, ask a question or help students challenge a “textbook” answer (after all, everyone knows “textbook” and “real world” are often very different).
What is the most significant lesson you have learned from your students?
I would have to say "to be inquisitive". I am often amazed at the way students approach scenarios and solve cases. Their perspectives are so different from mine, and I really enjoy when they introduce me to another solution.
What are the most important things students should learn before entering a career in marketing?
Students should be ready to be a lifelong learner and grow with the field. The field of marketing is in a state of constant reinvention. Every year there is something new, especially in digital and marketing research careers. So if you want to work in marketing, you should be ready to commit to lifelong continuing education in order to stay current and prevent others from taking your position.