Theodore DeWitt

Theodore DeWitt, PhD

Exploring Resilience in Business at Ross

My career started in finance: I worked for S&P from 2009-2012 as a project financial analyst. Although I didn’t have anything to do with mortgage-backed securities or the financial crisis, I did watch as the company had to go through significant changes. Watching all this got me wondering: if you’ve been through a crisis, what do you need to do as an organization to make yourself more resilient, and what have organizations done to set themselves up to be in trouble? I just had lots of questions about how you make organizations more resilient as the world was changing ever-faster. And after a while, those questions became more interesting to me than the financial ones.

I had studied finance for my MBA at Yale, but the classes I liked more were my management and organization and human resources classes. I kicked around the idea of doing a PhD, and after consulting with the former professors who had become my mentors, I decided it was the next step for me.

I feel supported by my department in a very big way, whether that’s talking through ideas or just being made to feel welcome.

There are a few reasons I chose Michigan Ross for my PhD. First of all, the management and organizations scholars I wanted to work with are here. Two, it seemed like the program placed a lot of importance on interdisciplinary work and working with other departments. Third, I also felt that the faculty really cared about teaching––about making you a good teacher. This was really important to me. And it was very clear from the attitude towards teaching in the department, and the structures that were set up within the PhD office, such as the teaching classes, that becoming a high-quality instructor was highly valued.

I can tell you that those perceptions about Ross proved to be true. There’s also something else about Ross that has made me certain I made the right choice for my PhD program: the community.

I feel supported by my department in a very big way, whether that’s talking through ideas or just being made to feel welcome. The faculty open their homes several times a year for events and get-togethers. I also feel very supported by the other students. We spend lots of time bouncing ideas off each other, and we hang out at each others’ places on weekends.

The program also creates structures so that students have access to the things they need to be successful, such as the PhD Forum. I’ve been on the board for the past three years and I served as president last year. The forum helps out with logistical and social needs–– planning social events, helping students pick out offices, and assisting in applying for funding. We try to provide resources across the board to help make students successful.

I’m heading toward the end of my time at Ross, and I have learned that it’s very difficult to come to this program and be exposed to the rigor of the classroom, along with the expertise and the compassion of the professors, and not come out the other side ready to tackle both research and teaching. You’re going to be prepared.

I feel like the hard part is deciding whether or not you want to do a PhD, because it’s a decision that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. You’re taking five or six years of your life and just focusing on one thing, and at depth. But making the choice to come to Michigan Ross? Now that’s easy.