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Menzel Baker and Wright: Meeting of the Minds

Jan 27, 2022
5 min Read
Stacy Menzel Baker and Hilary Wright on Zoom

In this, the third installment of our January series honoring National Mentoring Month, we look at the close partnership between doctoral students and their dissertation advisors.

“A very intense process” is how Stacy Menzel Baker, PhD, professor of marketing at the Heider College of Business, describes dissertation completion. The culmination of the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program, it involves the formulation of a central research question, extensive literature review, various methods of data collection and analysis, establishing results, and determining the implications of the research to both theory and practice.

“It requires self-discipline, focus and critical thinking,” Menzel Baker says. “Hilary is very good at following the process as it unfolds.”

“Hilary” is Hilary Wright, a DBA student in her final months of the program. She says when she began to form her dissertation committee, Menzel Baker’s name repeatedly came up. Believing the two would be well-matched, Kristie Briggs, PhD, professor of economics, introduced Wright and Menzel Baker. 

“Once we met, we clicked right away – our personalities, work styles and research interests – everything was a great fit,” says Wright. “I was still in the early stages of honing what my dissertation topic would be, and Dr. Menzel Baker really guided me in that process. She listened to my ideas, asked me questions to help narrow my focus and recommended resources along the way.”

“We share an interest in her dissertation topic – brand activism and consumer behavior. It’s in line with my expertise on consumer vulnerability, when marketers leave people feeling powerless to impact their circumstances,” adds Menzel Baker. 

Marketing blends creative and analytical skills, which is what drew Wright to the field. She is a seasoned marketing professional, specializing in strategy. After several years as a marketing leader in B2B tech, Wright now focuses on her marketing consulting company in the Kansas City metro area.   

“Whether planning an event or creating a content marketing campaign, I enjoy creating experiences for people, whether they’re customers, attendees or learners,” she says.

Learners, in fact, are a group that has always been close to her heart. She says that one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a marketing leader “has been mentoring and coaching my team and watching them grow.” But she considers herself as much of a learner as a teacher. Fittingly, her top Gallup strength is Learner; she is a dedicated life-long student and helper of others. And, as a daughter of an educator, it’s not too surprising that she is channeling her extensive industry experience toward a doctorate and future teaching career. 

Perhaps Wright’s love of learning is yet another trait she shares with Menzel Baker, who says she enjoys “learning with her.”

“I have pointed her in directions to follow, and often she ends up with a deeper understanding of the direction than I have at the moment,” Menzel Baker says. 

It’s one of the many mutually beneficial aspects of mentoring. A novice receives guidance and wisdom from a seasoned professor, and the professor gains a fresh perspective on research topics.

“Hilary helps keep me current on the state of literature,” Menzel Baker says.

The time Menzel Baker spends with Wright and her other mentees energizes and inspires her. Being a mentor combines what she loves about academia – people and ideas. The intellectual exchange that occurs during the many hours of dissertation preparation results in a deep bond between mentor and mentee. It’s one of the many rewards of the job, says Menzel Baker, connecting with someone meaningfully as you work through new ideas together. 

Wright says preparing her dissertation is arduous but very satisfying. It has allowed her to focus on a topic that fascinates her and the resulting relationship with Menzel Baker has enriched her Creighton experience. 

“Of course, she has coached me through the ups and downs of writing my dissertation,” says Wright, “but she’s also directed me to opportunities for presenting my research and finding funding and given me career and job search advice. Our relationship has transformed from chair-student to partnership, mentorship and friend. I expect her to be a colleague moving forward in my career and hope to continue working with her.”

Menzel Baker concurs. “Relationships developed in the process of embracing a ‘life of the mind’ are special,” she says.

This story is part of our mentoring series in honor of National Mentoring Month. Read all the stories in the series: Kracher and Taylor: Breaking Through to the Real, Wei and Ge: Shared Experience Academic Focus, Menzel Baker and Wright: Meeting of the Minds, Olson and Idra: Mentoring a Mentor, McMahon and Fohr: From Mentorship to Friendship and Parrish and Grad: Paying it Forward