Associate Professor of Marketing Laureen Mgrdichian is a natural entrepreneur, always finding business opportunities that align with her skills and what she enjoys doing from the start of her career.
“I’ve always loved to bake so I started my own cookie business just after my graduate studies,” said Mgrdichian. “Most of my clients were corporations, but I’ve also supplied cookies and cakes to coffee houses in the L.A. area. And when my kids — triplets! — were infants, our family started a baby video production company. We produced two DVDs, along with accompanying musical CDs. Parenting Magazine picked us as one of their ‘videos of the year,’ and we had an international licensing deal in Japan.”
Mgrdichian has been teaching at Crowell School of Business since 2012, leading courses such as Consumer Behavior, Women in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formation, and Introduction to Marketing, along with periodically teaching a marketing class in the MBA program. Here, she shares some of her story with us.
You’re a Biola grad!
I am! I actually received my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Biola College — I was part of the last graduating class before it became a university. I started off as a psychology major and made a shift after my freshman year. I felt that Communication Studies provided me an overall view of how people interact, whether in group or individual settings. I also spent a semester in Washington, D.C. with the American Studies Program. That was an amazing experience.
What did you do after graduation?
After working for about seven years in a variety of industries, I got a bit restless and felt I wanted to further my education to provide myself with more opportunities, so I chose the MBA program at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management. I can’t say I had a plan all laid out as to how I was going to use it, but I love seeing how the Lord has woven it all together.
Most of my time before coming to Crowell was spent in the area of marketing. I worked for a small boutique marketing firm and managed many promotional projects for clients all over the country, mainly grocery stores and mass merchants. My last position was as a category manager for Universal Studios, working with many of those same clients, but coordinating the releases of movies on DVD.
What are your research interests, and how do they impact your students’ futures?
I am especially drawn to areas of consumer behavior. I think this is where my interests in communication, psychology and business align well. I love the psychological and sociological reasons for why people do what they do. Ethics in marketing is a focus of mine. I’ve done papers and presentations for both academic and industry conferences, most recently on using branding to encourage ethical marketing and understanding how customers think, as well as how to leverage how you are perceived for future success.
As a marketing professor, I recognize that there is a growing cynicism toward marketing — we’ve all become more savvy about being “marketed to.” But I believe this wariness is directed mostly toward traditional mass marketing efforts. Social media is new territory, and though many people think they are immune to its effects, they are being impacted in ways they don't even recognize. For example, the use of neuromarketing has exploded in the past few years, indicating that many decisions that consumers make are made subconsciously. This really warrants further study from an ethical Christian perspective.
I am also very interested in research on women in leadership and the changes that have taken place over the past century. Additionally, I am hoping to look at the habits — from consumption to how work is conducted — that have been formed this past year during the pandemic and how they may have a lasting impact on businesses.
In your courses, you have to make some complex concepts accessible. What are your strategies for doing that?
Practical examples from the marketplace always help to bring challenging material to a more accessible level. In addition, for some classes such as Entrepreneurship or Women in Leadership, I find that guest speakers add depth and perspective.
I’d like to integrate more “in the community” projects into upper-division courses. Having real-world clients and business scenarios make the assignments much richer and the learning extremely practical.
What do you like to do in your free time?
It hasn’t felt like there is much free time lately, but I do love to bake and read. I have also been enjoying our one COVID indulgence — a Peloton bike — which actually helps with the baking. When I have a clump of free time, heading up to Hume Lake is always on the list!
What is your favorite thing about Biola?
The students! No question about it. I love being able to not only prepare them for the workplace, but encourage their hearts in the Lord. It is a definite win-win in my mind.
Learn more about Crowell School of Business programs.