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Leadership Columbus: Frank Wadsworth

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Frank Wadsworth

Date of birth: July 12, 1956.

Place of birth: Ithaca, N.Y.

Title: Head of the division of business at IUPUC and professor of marketing and international studies.

At IUPUC since: August 2011. Previously served as dean at the school of business at IU Kokomo.

Duties include: Making sure that faculty can teach classes effectively, do research and engage in their professional and local communities. I also teach a class in international business and another in intermediate statistics.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Purdue, bachelor’s in management: business and farm, from Purdue; master’s in food marketing from Michigan State; master’s in business from University of Wisconsin-Madison; doctorate in business from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Family: Wife, Karen; two adult children.

Hobbies: Traveling internationally, at least once a year. Planning to go to Thailand, China and Philippines this year. I mostly travel to Asia, having taught in the Philippines for two weeks and in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a month.

What was your first job?

At age 11 I mowed lawns in the neighborhood in West Lafayette.

What primary lessons did you learn from that job?

Being dependable and reliable, getting out there every week and making sure to get the job done.

When did you first become a leader?

I was in the Boy Scouts and was named a troop leader, where I had to work with boys of different ages and abilities. I had to keep track of gear, including ropes and cooking gear, and I had to mentor some of the younger Boy Scouts. Helping others be successful is still one of my passions.

What are the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned?

I’ve learned to listen more as I’ve gained experience, and I know now that leaders don’t have all the answers. I didn’t know that 30 years ago. Also, I’ve learned through my travels that things are not better or worse anywhere — just different. That’s what I tell especially my international business students who spend time abroad. Neither a command economy nor a market economy are perfect. One way is not necessarily the only way.

What do you like best about your job?

Working with people, whether that’s students, faculty or the public.

What do you like least?

Bureaucratic processes. Filling out paperwork for things that don’t seem to be important to the running of the university, but somebody, whether the university, state or feds, require us to submit.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are just now entering the workforce. What can they do to increase their chances of being successful?

I tell my students that they need to be dependable, reliable and show that they are competent (and grades are one way to show that), that they have experience in their field (through a project or internship) and that they have leadership experience (through a nonprofit, a church committee or whatever). Also, I tell them that they should find a way to make themselves unique, so that the employer has a reason to pull their resume from a stack of 200. Maybe they helped raise money for a charity, had a unique internship, studied abroad or speak another language. Study abroad especially teaches students a little bit about the world and makes them more valuable for companies.

Q: How are you unique?

I am one of about 30 academics in the world who study franchising, and I’m one of about a handful of people who are certified franchise executives. I also worked for the Federal Trade Commission for a semester.

Q: Tell me about your family’s commitment to education.

I’m a third-generation academic. My father was on the faculty at the Purdue University School of Agriculture, and my mom was an administrator in the School of Engineering. She ran the women’s mentoring program and received a presidential award from Bill Clinton. My mother’s father was an electrical engineering professor at Cornell University.

Leadership Columbus is a twice monthly Q&A with Columbus’ leaders. If you know someone we should talk to, contact Boris Ladwig at 379-5712 or

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