Tyrha M. Lindsey, Head of KPMG’s Ph.D Project, Looks to Boost Number of Black Ph.D.s

Tyrha M. LindseyTyrha M. Lindsey was recently named president of the Ph.D Project’s Marketing Doctoral Students Association (MDSA), a National Group of Doctoral Students of Color.

An accomplished communications and marketing executive, Lindsey is ready to take MDSA to the next level.

Established in 1994 by The KPMG Foundation, the Ph.D Project’s mission is to increase workplace diversity by increasing the diversity of business school faculty who encourage, mentor, support and enhance the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders. The organization aims to create a much larger talent pipeline of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Native Americans for business leadership positions.

Currently, Lindsey is a third year doctoral student in marketing at Rutgers Business School in New Jersey. She also worked many years in marketing and communications in corporate America, entertainment and non-profit arenas for such firms as Quincy Jones-David Salzman Entertainment, NBC, Creative Artists Agency, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and UniWorld Group.

Lindsey tells TNJ.com about her goals for MDSA.

TNJ.com: Why is the association important?

Tyrha Lindsey: There are many reasons why the work of the Ph.D Project is so important. ?The first reason is exposure. ?Many people of color have an inkling of what life is like with a Ph.D, however, the Ph.D Project truly exposes one to the life and career of a scholar in Business. ?The annual November conference that the Ph.D Project hosts in Chicago gives interested persons a glimpse as to what the doctoral journey truly is and that is tremendously important. It is so true that once you see it, you can achieve it and the Ph.D Project helps facilitate this process.

The second reason is that the Ph.D Project serves as a support system for doctoral students of color and those who have matriculated though the program. ?This support system is key for the retention of the doctoral students of color, and even more so, once they become business professors.

The third reason is the network that the Ph.D Project creates for its participants. As a scholar, collaboration is king. From writing scholarly articles to crafting insightful books, being able to assemble co-authors and collaborators is a part of the winning formula to creating a successful and productive academic career.

TNJ.com: What are some of your immediate goals?

T.L.: As a ?40 Under Forty? alumni of The Network Journal, I truly embrace what we were told during our ceremony which was that we have only just begun regarding our achievements to date. ?I definitely feel that I have a great deal more to achieve. ?In terms of my immediate goals, since I am being trained to be a consumer behavior researcher in the area of marketing at Rutgers Business School, I am currently working on my dissertation on the topic of health edu-tainment and Millennials. My belief is that the use of health edu-tainment, which leverages the power of storytelling, will be a key communications strategy to make Millennials (and the generations after them) healthy. Once I graduate in 2016, I look forward to teaching marketing courses as a professor at a top business school in the U.S. On a personal note, I recently got married this year and I also look forward to building a life and growing my family with my husband, Sidney.

TNJ.com: Part of the organization?s vision is to create a significantly larger talent pipeline of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Native Americans for business leadership positions. Why is this important?

T.L.: Essentially, business is about people. ?In today’s marketplace, all businesses must reflect the customers they serve. ?The Peter F. Drucker and School of Management at Claremont suggests that the “purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” ?Therefore, if businesses want to not only survive but thrive in today’s global and diverse marketplace, they must have people of color in every rank within their organization, so internally the organization and its leadership composition is reflecting its external customer.

TNJ.com: How will you achieve the above?

T.L.: The Ph.D Project believes that if you have professors of color in the front of the classroom, this will, in turn, assist in creating a larger pipeline for business leadership. Professors of color are good for retention of business students in many of today’s business and MBA programs. ?In addition, having professors of color in the front of the classroom exposes all students to diverse perspectives and thinking. ?For example, in my classroom where I am teaching such courses as Consumer Behavior, Introduction to Advertising or Advertising and Promotions, when I discuss the “founding fathers” of Advertising, I not only discuss the likes of David Oglivy, but I also insert into the lecture the likes of Byron Lewis, Sr. and Tom Burrell, (the founders of UniWorld Group and Burrell Communications respectively), and their impact on the industry, along with the emergence of Latino and Asian ad agencies. ?Being able to broaden the conversation in the classroom to truly expose students to the business world that awaits them?the good, the bad and the ugly?is what professors of color can offer the classroom. ?At the end of the day, these diverse perspectives allow our students to bring this type of thinking (and perhaps humanity) to their business environments. ?

TNJ.com: What are some obstacles you feel minorities have in the field and how can they be overcome?

T.L.: I think the biggest challenges minorities face when pursuing a Ph.D is fear and money. ?First, we may get intimidated by the process and the intellectual rigor that comes with the degree. ?Next, we worry how we are going to pay for the degree. ?Both of these are like a one-two punch and can keep many people of color from pursuing a Ph.D.

After the fear and finances, having a support system is the next challenge. ?At many institutions, pursuing a Ph.D is a very lonely journey filled with tremendous time spent on studying and researching. Every doctoral student needs someone to call on as well as a shoulder to cry on in order to get through this process. They also need mentors and sponsors as a part of this support system. ?If you do not have it, you will not succeed as a doctoral student or a professor. For me, my fellow colleagues and mentors in the Ph.D Project have been my support system. ?

TNJ.com: What are you enjoying the most so far about the position?

T.L.: To date, as president of the MDSA, I am enjoying the opportunity to serve this dynamic group of outstanding scholars of color across the country. I am standing on the shoulders of some outstanding people who have come before me and it has been fun taking what has already been done for the past 20 years and building upon that.

It has also been wonderful meeting potential students who are contemplating getting a Ph.D in Business. I love being able to put a “face” to the degree and the journey with the goal to encourage others that they “can” do it, too.