Transform Into the New Role & Prepare Yourself For The Next with Marty Roth

by Ari Schonbrun

Transform Into the New Role & Prepare Yourself For The Next with Marty Roth




Dr. Martin S. Roth became President of the University of Charleston in July 2018. As a higher education leader, Roth has spent the past 30 years helping universities excel by focusing on the talent acquisition and development needs of students and organizations


Episode Transcription:


(intro plays)


Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun, and I’m your hosts. Today I have with me a very dear friend of mine, Dr. Martin s. Roth. We call it Marty Marty became president of the University of Charleston in July of 2018. Before coming to West Virginia, he was dean of the Barney School of Business University of Hartford, where by the way, he invited me to speak to the student body. He was previously Chair of the Sonico, international business department, Executive Director of the flagship International MBA program and Chief Innovation and assessment officer at University of South Carolina has topped ranked Darla Moore School of Business. He has also taught at universities in Austria, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, Portugal, Thailand and Tunisia. As a higher education leader Ruth has spent the past 30 years helping universities Excel by focusing on the talent acquisition, and development needs of students and organizations. Mark his teaching and research expertise is in global strategy, management and marketing for he has won numerous teaching awards. Marty’s research has been published in the leading marketing and management journals including the Harvard Business Review, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Consumer Research, American Journal of managed care and Journal of International Marketing. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal as well as in many other national and local media and spoken at meetings throughout the Americas and Europe. His country manager international marketing simulation game is used in over 140 schools worldwide. Here it is doctorate, MBA MBA degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, please help me welcome my dear friend, Marty Roth.


Marty: Good to be here. Ari.


Ari: How are you Marty?


Marty: doing terrific. It’s a beautiful blue sky sunny day here in Charleston.


Ari: Ah, well, we finally got some warm weather here as well. Can’t let me tell you it’s been horrible. But now thank God, it’s wonderful. Now I gotta tell you, I got tired just reading that bio of us. You’ve certainly done a lot in your lifetime. You spent time teaching in Austria, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, Portugal, Thailand and Tunisia. That must have been exciting. 

Marty: No,absolutely. I love international travel when I did my graduate work my PhD with the concentration in marketing, but my minor was in cultural anthropology. So I really enjoy meeting people learning about culture, learning about different value and belief systems, to having the opportunity to travel throughout my career has been a real blessing and something that I’ve always treasure.


Ari: Wow, that’s great. Okay, so as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers in bricks, the whispers are those voices telling you what is the right thing to do, and represents the good things in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And let’s be real, everybody gets hit with a brick every so often. Now, we all know that life is not a straight line. There are many ups and downs, many bumps in the road. Now in my audience, I’ve many people in the field of education. So they’re going to be hanging on to every word that you say, all right, not to put the pressure on you or anything. Now what my listeners would like to know, is this what was some of your struggles and or failures, some of your bricks that you got hit with when you were starting out in your career and throughout your career? 


Marty: Sure. That’s a great question Ari. And I think it is important that we recognize times where we haven’t met our own or others expectations, why that happened and what we can learn from that process. Growing up, I was blessed to have a great family background. And both of my parents were college educated. So it was always the expectation that I was going to go to college. There’s never really any question about that. But I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that college experience. So my father was a healthcare professional, he was a pharmacist and very well respected in the community. So I was kind of directed towards health care and thinking about going to school to become a doctor or a dentist or a pharmacist. Oh, wow. So that’s the path that I undertook. And I can tell the big challenge that I faced fairly early on were carbon chains, organic chemistry, and I did not become close friends. And that was a role kind of reflection point for me is really trying to understand what was going on. Why was I really struggling with this subject matter? Was it really that I just didn’t have the aptitude for chemistry. And I think what I ended up learning was I didn’t have the passion for it. And it wasn’t really my dream, to become a doctor or to become a dentist. And that led me to think about well, let’s think about all my educational experiences. Let me think about the professors whose sources I’ve enjoyed what kind of I reflect on from that in terms of where are my passions and what type of career paths I want to pursue. And I kind of pivoted and made a transition into business and studying business and economics as an undergraduate kind of my path really began to become a lot clearer from there on.


Ari: Wow, I gotta tell you, it’s really funny. But we share. I didn’t even know this, but we share the same kind of story. When I was in college, my father wanted me to be a dentist, because he says they have easy hours, they make a lot of money, I took one semester of bio and realize that dentistry is just not going to happen for me. And then my mom wanted me to be an accountant. So I took up accounting and I minored. In economics, I liked the economics more than I liked the accounting part. I did some stuff with my accounting, but I did mostly with my economics, I worked in a bank, I worked in a brokerage company, etc, where I was more into macro and micro economics macro is basically is what we live with in the world today. So that was my situation. So it’s not unlike yours. Okay, in that, yeah, they wanted me to do this. And at the end of the day, that just wasn’t going to happen. So now I get the information as to why you did what you’re doing, and why you got but what was some of the pitfalls that you’ve had? What was some of the bricks that was thrown at you, while you were chasing your dream? Let’s call it


Marty: Sure. I think in the kind of the higher ed space, you’re working for large universities that are both research, as well as teaching focus, you’re presented with lots of challenges. But I’ve been fortunate to do well in those areas, but hasn’t come without some struggles. Starting off as a teacher, you go through a doctoral program, four years of study, and you don’t really take one seminar on how to be a good teacher, you’re just kind of thrown in there, and you learn how to do it. So it’s a lot of role modeling, who are the professors whose courses I really enjoyed, what was their style, what was their approach, and figuring out how I could try to master some of the same skills and provide that same type of rewarding experience for my students. So you don’t start off hitting a home run, doing something like that, you’re going to have your instant starts, which I certainly did. But he tried to again, find people who are really good at something and learn what you can from them, try to find a mentor who can help provide you with some guidance along the way. And I think the same thing happened on the research side, which is the other big component of a kind of junior professors job. It’s hard, the acceptance rates in major journals are less than 10%. So you just have to get used to rejection. And that’s not something that again, you take a workshop on how to master. So you try to find guidance from others who have gone through the process and managed it successfully. And then take your bumps and bruises. But again, if you’re passionate about it, you’ll perseverance is is really the name of the game. And that helps to keep you engaged and keep you enthusiastic and willing to forge on and kind of become better. 


Ari: It’s interesting, because those words about chasing your dream, your passion, etc. This is a theme that has been running through my show. And every episode, every person that I spoke, and that I speak to regardless of what field they’re in what their career path is, I always find that it’s always they were chasing their dream, they had a passion. And it didn’t matter what life was throwing at you. You wanted to achieve a certain goal, and you did what was necessary in order to achieve that goal. You did mention mentors, which I firmly believe is so so important in life in general, whether it’s a life coach, whether it’s a mentor in whatever field you’re in, etc. Let me ask you this, who is the one person that you can point to that probably had the most influence on your life? And why?

Marty: Well, that’s a great question. I would say, you know, I’ve been fortunate to spend multiple years at different colleges and universities and I would say at each stop, I’ve had somebody who has helped me transform into the new role and prepare me for the next one. When I first took a faculty position at Boston College, good friend of mine, Hassel McClellan was an experienced professor, master teacher. And I knew that that was an area where I was needed to learn the ropes. So asking him if I could attend some of his classes, have him attend some of mine. We ended up CO leading a international study abroad class with about 30 Students taking them to three different countries in Europe. So being able to spend time with him, really kind of helped me become a proficient teacher. And then the second example was when I went to the University of Hartford and took on the Dean ship at the business school there. There were great colleagues. So I think first and foremost was the president who was there at the time, blood Harrison spent his whole career in higher ed, we had some similar backgrounds in terms of where we were from and common interests and so forth. And Well, you know, he was incredibly busy. And he wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with me. Whenever I needed advice or sought his counsel, he was always extremely responsive. And when we had an opportunity to work on some initiatives together, that was really helpful for me to watch him kind of lead a large, complex organization and kind of helped model my thinking about the best ways to do the same when I had that opportunity.


Ari: Wow, wow. That’s amazing. You know, what I found? My wife’s been in education for 30, some odd years more elementary school, high school, in the special ed fields. She has a master’s in special ed from Columbia. And she’s got a certain sense that I personally believe that great teachers, they’re born, they’re not made. Okay. For the most part, it’s one of those things. It’s like math, right? You’re either a math person, or you’re not math is one of those subjects that you know, it’s just you either get it or you don’t. I think teaching is the same way you either have it or you don’t. Now my wife, she certainly has it. And she had a love influence on one of my daughters, who decided to go into special education, she got her master’s, and she is now teaching second grade. And to the point where last year when the school year was over, the kids in her class were crying, literally because they weren’t going to have Mrs. Chin ski anymore. She was just one of those teachers that she had it she connected with the kids, they loved her. And that’s the way she was. And it seems to me obviously, that you’re the same way that people just gravitate towards you. Students gravitate towards you faculty gravitates towards you. You’ve got that feeling that sense of education. And that’s really wonderful. But let me ask you this, okay. Did you ever fall to a point so low in your career that you said, You know what, I quit? I can’t do this anymore. I’m giving up my dreams to heck with it. Maybe I’ll be an accountant or something like that, you know? Do you ever get to that level? And if you did, how did you deal with it? How did you make your comeback?


Marty: That’s terrific question. I don’t think I ever reached that level. But I did reach a point in my career where the job just wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it used to be. And my wife sense that in me that I just didn’t have the same energy and so forth. And I was fortunate that when that happened, it also coincided with my daughters being in high school and getting ready to pursue their own college experience. So my wife, Lynn said, Hey, you’re the college professor, you take them on college. All this, I’ll stay home with the other one, and watch the dogs and whatever. So I spent a week with each of my daughters on their junior year, spring break, just going around and visiting a variety of different schools. And that was really energizing for me. And I think, pretty transformational. And here’s why. What I discovered was the types of schools that really resonated with both of my daughters and resonated with me, as a parent, were very different than the place where I was working. And it really made me reflect and say, Why am I here? And maybe even kind of start reflecting a little bit more on, you know, what are important leadership questions we asked today? What is my purpose, you know, what’s my TrueNorth and those types of things, and was my daughter started to get situated in the colleges of their choice, I really made me say to myself, if that’s the type of school where I want my daughters to go, that’s the type of school where I think they can have the most beneficial transformational experiences. That’s the type of place where I should be, so that I can provide those types of experiences to the students for whom I’m responsible. And that’s what kind of led me to leave a very large institution to go to a smaller midsize school like Hartford and continue on that type of path here at the University of Charleston. So I could be at a place where we’re very focused on our students, in more layman’s terms, were very customer focused, very customer oriented. And part of my job is being the best ambassador for the institution that I can be. And I can only do that if I’m in touch with our students, and I’m able to connect with them and I can share what the student experience is like here and what we want it to be like here with potential friends, donors, alumni, and so forth. So even as I’ve taken on responsibilities as a dean and a professor, I continue to teach because I want to be in the classroom. I want to stay connected with our students and find opportunities to attend athletic events and cultural events. And when they do we have student life activities. such as you know, we bring somebody in to do painting for an evening, I’m going to go to those sessions not because I’m a good painter, not because I necessarily get a lot of personal satisfaction out of it. But I want to be in these activities with our students. So I’m really kind of keeping my thumb on the pulse of what it is that students are looking for. That’s going to help them grow personally and grow professionally and really get value out of their college experience.

Ari: You’re an incredible individual. Marty, my hat’s off to you. I have so much respect for you. Literally from the day we met. Oh, by the way, did you happen to notice? You probably can’t see it. But there’s a picture up on my wall. 


Marty: Okay. See, I see the frame there. 


Ari: Yeah, you know what it says, University of Hartford, those are your students. All right, we’re taking part in an event for a charity which I introduced them to, that you were kind enough to foster. And I’ve got that hanging on my

wall. That’s terrific, I’m very rewarding to see that

they go, they go. Last but not least, before we go any words of advice, or any words of wisdom for my audience, life lessons, something?


Marty: Sure. I think I’m really fortunate in my profession, that I get to spend my time thinking about how to help young people learn and grow, find their passion, find their purpose, and so forth. And I just really can’t emphasize just how important that is for all of us. And it doesn’t necessarily mean the purpose has to be you’re going to climb Mount Everest or you know, do some kind of heroic activity. It’s, you know, what are the things that are going to make me feel good when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, and what’s going to make me feel excited to face the new day when I wake up in the morning. And I think that’s part of all of our challenges in the human condition is to find that and to be around people that either share that or can support you in that sense of purpose. And that really helps to kind of just make you a more positive person, and frankly, a more enjoyable person to be around. So I think that’s one of the things that gives me a lot of reward and being in higher education and something that I would encourage all of us to continue to focus on


Ari: True words we never said, Marty, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. Good luck going forward. You been listening to us wisdom bricks, and I’m your host Ari Schonbrun Until next time, listen to the whispers never give up on your dreams. Bye for now.