Mendoza School of Business

Becoming fearless

Author: Joan Mileski (BBA '79)

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I am a tenured professor at Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG).  When I was at Notre Dame it was not the Mendoza College of Business just the College of Business.  I was one of the first women at ND (Class of 1979) and we had only one or two women in each class.  But we were a strong group despite our small numbers and now many of us are members of the Hesburgh Women of Impact.

I was the first in my family to graduate from college.  So I chose to be a faculty member at TAMUG because many (30%) of my students are first-time college graduates in their families as well. I help my students and can relate to them. The value system I lived at Notre Dame has given me the desire and know-how to be effective with my students.

The accounting faculty trained me well (who can forget Adam Adamoski?).  I still have my Beta Alpha Psi certificate on the wall.  I was the treasurer of Beta Alpha Psi in my senior year and Professor Don Wittgen led us to be one of the best chapters in the country.

I also placed well out of college with Deloitte. The partner in charge of the Chicago office that I joined graduated from the College of Business at Notre Dame. I learned a little about mentoring from him. Deloitte sent me to graduate school to make me more effective at taxation compliance for our clients. This allowed me to eventually become the Director of Taxation for Westin Hotels.

After about 15 years in the corporate workplace, I decided that I enjoyed graduate school and academic research. I then entered a PhD program at the University of Texas at Dallas. I used my knowledge of accounting and taxation to do research on the impact of taxes and other factors on the location of investment.

I married my Notre Dame sweetheart and I now have been married for over 40 years. So, as I was finishing my PhD my husband was recruited to the University of Texas Medical Branch to head the trauma unit and the emergency department. I then found myself in Galveston. I took a faculty job at Houston Baptist University and 4 years after I earned my PhD I was promoted to associate professor. This speed of promotion was again due to emphasis on hard work and excellence that the College of Business taught us in every class. I was then recruited to Texas A&M University at Galveston where I received tenure on arrival as an associate professor in the Department of Maritime Business Administration.

Entering research on the maritime industry was a new adventure. ND and The College of Business taught me to be fearless in always stretching your knowledge and yourself.  Also, the maritime industry tends to be male dominated. My experience as one of the first women in the College and at ND helps me to encourage women to enter the industry and be fearless.

As I have progressed in my career here at TAMUG, I have built on the solid foundation of training from Notre Dame’s Business College. I am now the Department Head. As Department Head, I lead my faculty colleagues. The most important thing I learned at Notre Dame is that to lead people effectively you must respect them and value what they do whether the person is a staff or faculty. This respect results in the person exceeding any expectations you had for her/him but most importantly s/he exceeds the expectations s/he had for themselves.

I am always proud of what I studied and the faculty who taught me. Thank you for a great career!

Topics: BBA