Skip to content

Q&A With Local Business Leaders: Audhesh Paswan

Paswan is vice provost of UNT at Frisco and Dean of the College of Applied and Collaborative Studies

North Texas is booming for small and large businesses alike. But those beyond these companies can provide an insight into what makes these businesses successful and what it means to be a leader in our community. 

Local Profile recently interviewed Audhesh Paswan, vice provost of UNT at Frisco and Dean, College of Applied and Collaborative Studies. 

Paswan, a seasoned marketing expert, transitioned to academia in 1999, bringing with him a wealth of experience from thriving careers in advertising and consumer products. Prior to joining UNT, he held pivotal roles as an account manager and planner at HTA (JWT) and Clarion (McCann) and later as a brand manager in the pharmaceutical sector. Since 2015, Paswan has held the position of associate dean for academic affairs at UNT’s G. Brint Ryan College of Business. Under his guidance, the college experienced exponential growth in its master’s programs, expanding nearly six-fold, while also enhancing its national standing through acclaimed initiatives such as its top-ranked online M.B.A. programs.

Here is what Paswan had to say:

What is the most difficult aspect of leadership? 

The most challenging part of leadership is getting the team — whether it’s a company or a department — to express its dreams (their vision) and a plan to fulfill their own dreams. I believe everyone has a dream. I call that the vision and a plan to fulfill that dream. A good leader should help everyone in the team express their dreams and plans, consolidate these dreams and plans and use this as a foundation for the unit’s collective vision, mission and strategic plan. By adopting this inside-out or bottoms-up approach to developing the vision, mission and plan, you’ll have greater success as a leader to get everyone to support the team’s vision, goals and plans. 

Why are mentors important for college students?

Mentors can play a crucial role in shaping our students’ educational journeys often leading into life paths. Mentors can help mentees see what is possible, drawing from their own experiences. Mentors offer a perspective that offers insight into how the present is connected with their futures. They offer a perspective that sometimes is not easy to see since one is too close to the grind. Sometimes mentors can offer a reality check to help their mentees carve out a better path to achieving their dreams, perhaps pointing out courses or degree programs that are more aligned to their interests, strengths and weaknesses. There are no two ways about it, but mentors can help students figure out how to navigate their way through the complexities of their time in college. 

How has education changed in the last 5 years?

Technology is the catalyst for this change. Education used to focus on teaching students the explicit knowledge needed in a job now. The students had to prove that they are worthy of access to that knowledge. I call it the “gatekeeper of knowledge” orientation. Technology has changed this equation. It has made it easier for everyone to have access to all the explicit knowledge on almost every topic. However, most don’t know what is believable, usable and how to use it. This is where the education industry must change from being a “gatekeeper” of knowledge to a “facilitator” of knowledge. In other words, education must create platforms and environments that will help students not just acquire explicit knowledge, but more importantly, convert that explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. It is not enough to just have knowledge. It is even more important to know how to use that knowledge to create value for the firm, customers and society as a whole.

What projects are you currently working on?

We are currently working on a couple of initiatives. The first one is to develop a vision, mission and strategic plan for UNT at Frisco as an institution and the College of Applied and Collaborative Studies (CACS), housed in UNT at Frisco campus on Preston Road, Frisco. The second one is to enhance the number of students enrolled at UNT-Frisco and a related initiative is to enhance the number of programs offered at UNT at Frisco. The third initiative focuses on raising awareness of UNT at Frisco among Frisco and nearby communities. Finally, the fourth initiative focuses on increasing the number of programs and activities that bring industry and academia together at UNT at Frisco campus. 

What is most misunderstood about college? 

Most students have a misunderstanding that just because they finish college they will get a job. Getting a job and doing well in a job depends on the skills and capabilities one acquires and how one uses those skills and capabilities to create value for others including consumers, firms and society. This requires not just acquiring explicit knowledge, but also developing tacit knowledge. It is not enough to have explicit knowledge; one has to also be able to use that knowledge to create value for others. This requires students to take initiative and use opportunities offered at colleges to develop tacit knowledge and learn how they can create value for others. In addition, students must learn how to deal with uncertainty, which may not be an integral part of all college programs. 

What is something you wished you knew before entering your career? 

The one thing I wish I knew before starting my career is that your career pathway may not be linear. In fact, a linear career pathway may be too boring. I started with an engineering undergraduate, did my MBA, started working in the advertising industry and then moved into the pharmaceutical industry as a brand manager, moved back to the advertising industry and after eight years in the industry, I decided to come into academia by doing my Ph.D. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best piece of advice I received was: never say you know everything and always be open to learning new things.

How do you manage your time most effectively?

This is the most difficult part of my role with multiple stakeholder meetings popping up my calendar. I try to prioritize activities and meetings based on strategic initiatives. As much as possible, I try to give high priority to more strategic initiatives and meetings, e.g., meetings with external stakeholders that focus on future opportunities and meetings with internal stakeholders that focus on morale and culture of the unit, over more tactical ones, unless it is going to affect how we attract new students and create new programs in a significant manner.   

What is the best book you have read in the past three months?

Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.

What does community mean to you?

Community is an extension of family with varying social distances and connections. We all have to do our part to create value for the entire community in different ways, just like we do in a family. Relying on the spirit of an old saying, i.e., it takes a village to raise a child; I would say: “It takes the whole community to raise responsible and productive citizens who create value for the community, including themselves.”

Don't miss anything Local. Sign up for our free newsletter.