M&O Alumni Highlights: Sharon Matusik (’98)

Sharon Matusik earned her PhD in strategic management from the Foster School of Business in 1998. After graduation, she joined the faculty at Rice University and then moved to the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2004.

“It was an easy choice to come to Boulder,” Matusik said. “I knew the combination [of academic excellence in strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation, and the entrepreneurial community] would help me produce impactful research and help me elevate my teaching.”

In January of 2017, Matusik took on the role of interim Dean at Leeds and became the permanent Dean in June later that year.

Sharon Matusik, Leeds School of BusinessAs Dean, Matusik has been instrumental in key initiatives that will take advantage of academic excellence at Leeds and connections to the community to move the school forward, she said.

Entrepreneurship, Engineering and Women in Business

Matusik is spearheading a comprehensive partnership and physical connection to the College of Engineering. The center of the expansion will be a big innovation and entrepreneurship hub, designed to facilitate interactions between business and engineering students and the business community.

“The expansion speaks to where the future of higher education and in business is going,” Matusik said. “Students need to be comfortable in world where technology is interrupting and changing the industry. The Dean of the College of Engineering always hears the tech skills engineering students develop are especially valuable if they are savvy about how to apply them in a business context.”

The building design will facilitate the interactions between students and the business community and act as a hub of experiential learning, she explained.

The partnership will also include curriculum innovation and the development of programs to benefit both business and engineering students. The idea is to allow students across the two colleges to take more classes together and to co-develop degree programs such as business analytics.

Interdisciplinary teams of business and engineering students have already had success in innovation activities such as the campus-wide New Venture Challenge, where they won first-place. The new collaborative space will be a natural place for these teams to work together, and to bring in the community to help mentor teams as they are developing their ideas, she said. Matusik hopes to see next year’s top prize go to a team with a mix of engineering and business students again.

Another initiative known as “End the Gap” is aimed at increasing the female student population to 50 percent across all programs at Leeds. In partnership with the business community, this initiative is working to get more women in the talent pipeline by expanding primary demand among women for a business education.Sharon Matusik

“There is mounting evidence that firms with mixed gender leadership teams have better innovation and financial performance, as well as other qualitative benefits,” Matusik said. “Our goal is to get more women interested in business. Period.  A business education provides great career opportunities for women and is also good for business.”

Matusik’s innovation and leadership at Leeds, commitment to business education and the entrepreneurial community earned her the Boulder Chamber’s Rising Start Award in March 2018.

Current Research

As Matusik fosters growth and innovation a Leeds, she is still actively working on research. Her research focuses on strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital. Most recently, she had a review piece on entrepreneurial financing published in the Journal of Management.

Matusik just wrapped up a study looking at where the value from innovation in emerging economies goes – examining whether that value stays in the country in which it was invented, or is appropriated outside of it, looking at consideration such as (foreign) ownership, characteristics of the innovation itself, and how embedded in the local context the innovation is.

In additional projects, Matusik is looking at the changing nature of entrepreneurial financing and how new forms of financing interact with traditional ones like venture capital and the implications of these forms of financing for capability development of start-ups.

UW Roots

Matusik has lived in many of the entrepreneurship hubs around the U.S., including Boston, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle and now Boulder.

“I was around people in tech start-ups all the time and so I became very interested in the dynamics associated with start-ups,” she said. “Seattle had a very impressive tech start-up community and being at [the University of Washington] helped me develop my interests in addressing important questions related to innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Boulder and Seattle are a lot alike in regard to their entrepreneurial ecosystems and academic excellence, she said. At Leeds, she has been able to leverage and extend the work she started in her dissertation at UW on knowledge assets.

Though, at times, she does miss the water.

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