One word to describe Brenda Flannery would be passionate. She is passionate about every aspect of life, whether it be bettering the College of Business as a whole, creating a welcoming and interactive envirnment for students, encouraging women to choose a career in business, and last but definitely not least, her family. Everything she does is done with 150% effort and care. It’s not every day that you encounter such an inspirational women who cares so much about everything around her. Aspiring female leaders: she is a great resource and role model! If you have not yet had the honor of meeting her, we highly suggest taking the time to do so.
HC: Tell us about your experience at MSU, Mankato, you have played many other roles in the university, correct?
Brenda Flannery: “I started here in 1996 as a brand-new professor of management. I had a 1 year old, an unfinished dissertation and I was asked to teach some classes that I have never taught before. I had the full support of my husband because it wasn’t easy juggling all of those things at once. I loved the culture of MSU and it was a great fit for me. Both of my parents graduated high school but did not go to college, so being a first-generation college student is very cool to me because it is such a huge step in so many people’s lives. When I went from an assistant professor to a professor, I had to document every single thing I did. I have been here a long time, guys. My favorite part is being around student. I was also the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship has always been a really big passion of mine. When I took my sabbatical I chose to go to Mexico and teach for a year and learn about the culture (04-05). When I came back, I became really passionate about service learning so I tried to get my students involved. After the provost saw that I was energetic and had international experience, I was offered the Assistant VP of undergraduate students and international education in 2006. This experience gave me the chance to help students become leaders. I learned so much about the university and help better it for the students. I am very inspired by the students and I want what is best for them.”
HC: How long have you been the Dean of the College of Business, and what motivated you to take this position?
BF: “I have been in the Deans role now for five years I think. I keep track by how many InReview magazines we have done. I ask myself would I want my son or daughter to be in my class? Would I want them to be an MNSU Maverick? The students are always my motivation!”
HC: What are you most proud of accomplishing for the College during your time as the Dean?
BF: “Hmm, gosh, most proud of? I think the focus of making real-world learning experience happen for our students is the best. I redesigned our team structure and hired new staff faculty that reflects our focus on students. I am proud of the dynamite team and highlighting the experiences we have brought to our students.”
HC: When students graduate from the College, what is one thing you hope they take with them?
BF: “I hope they take with them these really life-changing experiences that happened because of the great people they met – faculty, students, alumni, community. I hope they take a toolkit to launch their life. When they graduate, I want them to feel ready to hit the real-world full-force and be successful.”
HC: Where does women empowerment come into play, and what drives you to be such a strong supporter of it?
BF: “First of all I’m a woman, and I think for me it didn’t start until I met my husband who was raised by really strong women. We started to talk about the different ways women nurture people and lead and make a difference in this world. We have had a lot of different conversations in our household about humanism and how women feel they aren’t as capable and entitled to experiences. The world is limiting as to what girls can do – girls should do A and boys should do B – a lot that is based on the media. I want to encourage women to be who they want to be and not to limit them. We parent our kids to both be strong individuals. It’s important to have a lot of confidence as to what they can do. How can we give them the confidence to help them do what they want to do? We want to build up their confidence and raise it over time.”
HC: When you’re not playing the role of the Dean, what can you be found doing in your free time?
BF: “I love being a mom, and being a mom is really important to me. The way you are parented will affect you for your entire life. I go to the events that my kids are involved in, I read with them, cook with them, go to concerts with them. I recharge on the weekends by spending 4-6 hours cooking. I watch cooking shows – Chefs Table on Saturday mornings. I am a foodie – I love really good food! I also love to be in the outdoors, I take an outdoors trip every year whether it’s with some girlfriends or my family – I like to disconnect with the world and connect with the people I am with. You can also find me a lot watching curling on the weekends. My daughter will be representing the U.S. in February in the Youth Olympic Games in Norway! How empowering!”
HC: In five years where would you like to see the College?
BF: “In a new building, with students working on all kinds of real-world projects. It will be a beautiful building that allows students to collaborate and start student-run businesses. For now I just want to work the best with what we have and make at least one thing happen each year. We want to make the student experience a little better every year!”