Q&A: Dr. Joanne Smikle, Associate Professor
Dr. Joanne L. Smikle is an acclaimed consultant, author and speaker – and now also an associate professor at Capitol Technology University. She joined the faculty of the Management and Decision Sciences doctoral program this month as an associate professor. An expert in leadership development, Dr. Smikle has assisted organizations such as the American Health Care Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Association of Medical Colleges, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Automotive Dealers’ Association, to name only a few.
She is a frequent keynote speaker at business events and a widely published author whose articles – focused on providing practical approaches to developing managerial competence and leadership excellence -- are used by companies all over the country. She holds a PhD and an MA in Human and Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University; her BA, in political science, is from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Full biographical details are available at her website, www.smiklespeaks.com.
In an interview with Capitology, Dr. Smikle spoke about her personal and professional background, her teaching vocation, and some of the insights she has gained as a consultant.
What has shaped your academic career?
I have spent the last 25 years as an organizational development consultant, serving clients literally all around the country. My area of specialty is leadership development, strategic planning, and helping organizations create alignment between their strategy for the future and their current operations. I’ve had lots and lots of fun, serving lots of clients.
A few years ago I decided I wanted a doctorate. I did not get a doctorate with the intention of having an academic career. I got a doctorate because I wanted to raise my consulting fees! And it was becoming really a requirement for working at the level I was working at, with the clients I was working with. It was one of those silent, unspoken requirements.
So I went back, I got the doctorate, and had a great time in the process. Some people talk about hating their PhD programs. I loved mine. I worked with faculty members who were committed to my learning and to helping me spark even more intellectual curiosity than I already had. Midway through the program, I said to myself: “I want to be that for someone.” That’s how I ended up looking for academic positions.
What were some of the attributes of the faculty members who inspired you?
What are some of the insights you’ve gained over the course of your consulting career?
One of the things I have learned from working with a variety of clients is that nothing takes the place of preparedness. You can’t just show up. Before you get there, you have to be prepared, certainly in terms of your academic preparation, but also in terms of understanding the organization you’re going into, understanding their goals, how you fit into that.
That’s one thing. One of the other things that I bring is an understanding of business and how it works, an understanding of the marriage between theory and practice. Your textbooks are going to say one thing, and your life is going to teach you something different.
The expectation is that you’re not just showing up, but that you’re going to produce something. You’re going to have measurable outcomes. At the end of all of it there has to be something that we can measure.
What are some of the challenges and problems that people face as they try to integrate into an organization?
People often jump in with both feet before they understand the lay of the land, before they see the power players, before they understand both the big-P politics and the little P subtle politics in the organization. I think it’s very important to understand what you’re going into, so that you can either assimilate or decide not to -- because you do have choices
Outside of teaching and consulting, what are some of your interests?
I’m an avowed foodie who loves trying different restaurants. I’m also an antiquer -- I collect vintage dining and kitchenware, I have a bowl that was my grandmothers’ that is probably 110 years old. And I still use it regularly.
In addition, I love to travel. I enjoy seeing other cultures, and I also enjoy the relaxation of travel.