For Daewoo Park, innovation can be rooted in the past – if only because his unfailing belief in the importance of breaking new ground spans decades.
Park brings that same commitment to reimagining to his new role as the recently-appointed associate dean for the NIU College of Business. His term officially began in summer 2019.
Previously, Park served as academic chair of Xavier University’s management and entrepreneurship department and also at Hawaii Pacific University’s business department, respectively. While at Xavier, he also served as director of the Sedler Family Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In these capacities, he was an active participant in the intense college-wide quality review process required for AACSB accreditation, along with AACSB’s continuous improvement review process and Assurances of Learning requirement. In the classroom, Park intentionally adopts a cross-disciplinary teaching methodology in order to surface different perspectives. He blends together best practices in military leadership, strategic communications, and emphasizes the importance of risk taking and learning from failures. Park holds a Ph.D. in strategic management from Texas A&M. His achievements range from setting records with fundraising and scholarship acquisition, securing research and teaching grants to creating entrepreneurship and innovation competitions. His research has been published in top journals, and he has been invited to speak at a number of national conferences.
“That we continue to attract such inspired faculty and academic leaders like Daewoo to our ranks is testimony to the strong reputation of the college and the direction we’re pursuing,” NIU Business Dean Balaji Rajagopalan says. “Our faculty are excited to cross new boundaries in the areas of knowledge generation and achievement. With an academic background in entrepreneurship, curricular redesign, and innovation, Daewoo’s interests and capabilities will help us achieve our vision.”
So, too, will Park’s high regard for relationships, which becomes abundantly clear as he describes those who have made a major impact in his life.
“These are my faculty mentors.” He points to images captured in two hard copy photographs that are within protective casing inside his billfold. “I carry their photos with me every day. I met both gentlemen on separate occasions many years ago when I was in my graduate program.”
With an unmistakable smile of friendship and admiration, Park gazes at the images.
“These are exceptional mentors who always showed such great love and caring for their students. They challenged me and all students to go beyond what we thought possible. I have never forgotten them or their encouragement. No matter what direction our lives took, we stayed in touch through the years. Even after we began our respective families in different parts of the country. Sadly, both of these gentlemen passed away in recent years. Yet, every day, I still think about the examples they set. I try to find ways to honor them – as cherished friends, accomplished individuals and innovators.”
Many would argue that the ultimate metric for success may very well be to be remembered each day for the positive impact you’ve made in the lives of others. Park’s own students would likely agree – especially an MBA class that traveled with him to Japan in March 2011. This particular study abroad found Park and the MBA students in a conference room on the 30th floor of a Tokyo high rise just as northeastern Japan was rocked by an historic 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a savage tsunami that devastated large swaths of the country, shut down the airports and roads, and brought nuclear power plants to the brink of meltdown.
“We had to think on our feet,” Park explains quietly, his voice laced with humility as he describes how he led the students away from danger by finding a way to evacuate the building and finding safety for four days – the amount of time it took before the airports could reopen and he could secure tickets for all of them (which he did) to leave the country.
“It was an incredibly powerful experience,” he continues, smiling with a still-present astonishment, “of how to manage risk in your life.”
Without hesitating, Park adds, “It’s important to stay optimistic. Always be optimistic in life. Learn from others and remember what you learned from them. Then, help individuals in your life make something great…even if it’s in the moment or from scratch.”
And even if it involves music – especially from a Hawaiian guitar, an instrument Daewoo Park enjoys playing in his spare time.