Educated Woman of the Week-Alison Mackey

Alison Mackey
Professor, Parent, Advocate

Where did you go to school and what did you study?
BYU and Ohio State University
BA Economics, MBA, Master of Organizational Behavior,
PhD in Business Strategy

Tell us about your school/work life:
I am a visiting assistant professor of management at Westminster College and a visiting scholar at Brigham Young University. At Westminster College I teach courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in strategic management and leadership.

I received my PhD in Business Policy and Strategy from The Ohio State University. I earned a Master’s in Organizational Behavior and a B.A in Economics, both from Brigham Young University. Prior to my appointment on the faculty at Westminster College, I was on the faculty at Cal Poly for seven years, previous to that I was on the faculty at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs there. I also taught at Ohio State University during my doctoral studies.

My research is related to executive labor markets, executive compensation, and corporate social responsibility. I am very active in the academic community. I have served within the Academy of Management on the Business Policy and Strategy Division’s Research Committee as well as on the Editorial Boards at top research journals such as Strategic Management Journal and Journal of Management. In addition, I frequently serve as an ad hoc referee at peer-reviewed management journals. My research has been published in peer reviewed journals such Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, and Business & Society. My research was honored with the Wiley Blackwell Outstanding Dissertation award from the Business Policy and Strategy Division of the Academy of Management in 2007.

My work experience outside of academia includes work in consulting, outplacement, and health care industries, drawing on my background in organizational behavior and organizational development.

Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
I have been married for 18 years. My husband and I completed all of our degrees together. He is a professor in business strategy as well (currently at University of Utah). We have coauthored several papers together.

We have three children ages 12, 9 and 3. Each of our children has a developmental disability. Two of the children have high functioning autism and the third child has a chromosomal disorder that effects physical, cognitive, and language development. Most of my life outside of work is spent helping them with their various struggles and needs. I am an active advocate for special needs children. In California, I founded a behavioral therapy company aimed at helping children with autistic disorder and their families–both with finding therapeutic solutions as well as advocating with schools and local government agencies.

How do you de-stress?
Exercise has been an essential part of my life for a long time. Often I must exercise very early in the morning as there is no other time available. Staying mentally healthy and physically strong is essential in my role as a wife and mother.

Spiritual pursuits are another component to my de-stress efforts. Meditation, prayer, journaling, are all important to heal emotionally.

What was the greatest barrier on your path to awesomeness, and what did you do about it?
Discouragement can be a great barrier for women. I have found that “work/life” balance means that every part of my life suffers a little bit. Being ok with imperfections and outcomes less than my desire is essential to ward off discouragement.

Additionally, my career path is not traditional–and I don’t want it to be. This can cause discouragement at times, but a long term view is important to keep. I have a support group of good friends and professional colleagues that help ward of discouragement.

Are there any books or other resources that have particularly helped you reach this level of awesomeness?
Both of my daughters have required high levels of advocacy for securing special education services. This required me to learn about the law and to improve my abilities to reason, create arguments, and write in a compelling manner. Anything that can help improve your ability to write and see the “big picture” in a situation will help you in your work.

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