DePaul Spotlight on Lisa Gundry

Chicago Family Business Council: Tell us a little bit about your department?

Lisa Gundry: I am a Professor in the Department of Management, in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Director of the Center for Creativity and Innovation. The Center’s mission is to foster innovation in organizations by helping entrepreneurs, managers and teams learn more effective methods of creative problem solving and develop innovation strategies that lead to new products, services, and other forms of new value for markets and communities. The Entrepreneurship academic area serves undergraduate and graduate majors and concentrations with courses on all aspects of the new venture and small business management process. We also offer programs in Continuing and Professional Education. Faculty members also engage in significant outreach to the entrepreneurial community, including student team-based projects with businesses.

CFBC: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with DePaul, and why?

LG: The students who come through our entrepreneurship courses are enthusiastic and curious about new venture creation, and about helping companies grow.  It’s especially rewarding to work with them and see efforts lead to successful new businesses. Another aspect of my work that is very gratifying is interacting with many businesses and business owners. For example, in my courses business owners and managers work with students in ideation sessions, in which the students are given a challenge the business is facing, and then use innovation tools to generate ideas and potential solutions that can make a difference in the organization. Recently, my class worked with a company that is going to roll out one of the new products generated in the session. That benefits student learning and business performance, and it’s exciting to be part of that.

CFBC: What has been your greatest lesson you've learned through your work at DePaul?

LG: Education is a very collaborative experience. Our students bring energy to their course experience, including a strong motivation to make a difference through their work. That’s why I think it’s important to provide a classroom environment that promotes creative thinking and behavior, and to give them the chance to interact with the business community so they can be aware of what’s on managers’ and employees’ minds.  Then, when they complete their education they are more likely to be able to contribute to solving significant problems and searching for new opportunities desired by business and society.

CFBC: What do you wish CFBC members knew about DePaul or your department, and why?

LG: The Center for Creativity and Innovation hosts the DePaul Innovation Network, a professional development and networking group in innovation. We have speakers, tours and other events that bring together professionals across industries for learning and conversation around innovation-related themes. Additionally, CFBC members are welcome to learn more about coming to my courses for the ideation sessions described earlier. These sessions are a great way to get many creative ideas that can help your business. Please contact me for more information if you are interested. We work with organizations large and small, both new and established, and look forward to interacting with CFBC members.

CFBC: How could you serve as a resource for the CFBC members, and how could they serve as a resource for you?

LG: My colleagues and I are available for speaking and consultation, and happy to help and connect CFBC members with area experts in issues they are facing. We welcome CFBC members to events, and as speakers or participants in the ideation sessions in courses, and in research projects that further our knowledge of the problems and opportunities relevant to family businesses.

CFBC: Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to do the work you do?

LG: There are many who have influenced me – both in academia and in business. In the academic world, I believe what they have in common is an unrelenting passion to “keep the light burning” in their students and help them develop meaningful and purposeful work and careers. I've worked with so many business people whose creativity and determination to make a difference in their industry is remarkable. Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, wrote these words to me: “Be Bold, Be Daring, Be Different.” She sadly passed away much too young, but she was a catalyst for change. She and others are talented leaders who help people collaborate to reach goals.

I hope that through my work, I am able to bring a little bit of this influence to bear on what I do.

CFBC: What would you tell our members who are thinking about working with DePaul?

LG: The DePaul community is passionate and committed to service. This is true about our faculty, staff and students, who are eager to help members of our community. Professors are open to working with CFBC members on course projects, hosting them as speakers in our classes, and helping them through service or consultation. We welcome you into our community. Let us know how we can help you!

CFBC: What do you do when you aren't working?

LG: I enjoy hiking and spending time with family. We’re trying to visit all the national parks, a daunting and inspiring task!

CFBC: What one book would you recommend to our members?

LG: Daniel Pink’s, A Whole New Mind is an intriguing read about the significance of creativity and change on our lives. Right-brain skills are increasingly important, as we see issues such as design coming into products and services and in the way we work. It gives you a lot to think about as we prepare our work and businesses for change and growth.

CFBC: What in your early work life had an impact or motivated for you?

LG: I started a business in my last year of high school and continued it through college. It was in data processing, and provided a service that filled a gap and few others were doing it. I loved working with clients at the university and in business that were in diverse fields. Through my work, I met my mentor who worked in social science research on projects related to organizational culture and change, and I knew what I wanted to do from that point forward.

CFBC: How does your department celebrate successes? And can we be invited?

LG: Absolutely! Look for our upcoming Student Innovation Awards and Reception on Feb. 28, 2013, to be held at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart. With our co-sponsor, the Chicago Innovation Awards Foundation, we will be celebrating our student winner as well as hosting an innovation panel of speakers from business.  More information will be available soon at

CFBC: What are your plans for the future?

LG: I hope to continue teaching and coaching students to take their ideas and turn them into value by creating new ventures or by bringing innovation into the organizations in which they work. I also hope to continue helping people foster innovation in their companies with sustainable and creative strategies for growth. In my research, some of the most interesting recent work is in the intersection of neuroscience and creativity. Discovering how – and why- we notice certain things and not others can be very informative with regards to being alert to changes in our work life.

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