August 2019 Ashford Faculty of the Month: Professor Brenda Forde
Editor’s Note: This month we continue our series highlighting faculty favorites based on feedback from Ashford students and alumni.
Brenda Forde is the embodiment of hard work and persistence. As a high school student, she was one of the fastest female 100-meter dash runners in the state of Iowa. As a corporate professional, she traveled the world leading teams and working on various mergers and acquisitions. Now, as an educator, she is known for inspiring others to approach their studies and business strategies with the same focus and determination.
Getting to Know Brenda Forde
Brenda Forde joined Ashford University in 2012 and serves as program chair for the Master of Business in Administration (MBA) degree program in the Forbes School of Business and Technology. In this role, she has worked directly with Forbes Media CEO and President Steve Forbes to develop the Master of Business Administration degree program and also instructs several intermediate accounting courses. She is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Arizona, where she lives with her husband and son. Prior to joining Ashford, she served as a vice president of finance at American Express.
Here, Forde reflects on a few notable moments and interests within her personal and professional life and discusses how she uses those interests and experiences to engage with students.
Brenda Forde interviewing Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in chief of Forbes Media.
Ashford: After many years working in the corporate world, what inspired your journey toward becoming an educator?
Forde: I have always enjoyed working with people and the learning process, which is really the core of education. As I gained more corporate work knowledge in my own career, I wanted to share this information and my experiences to help others. I believe that teaching is a noble profession and a place that I could share my experiences and help make people more successful. I love teaching a course and applying concepts to the real world; it helps the material come to life and also cements concepts. I really enjoy when students successfully tackle difficult material and clearly see how to apply it in their own careers.
Ashford: How has your corporate background formed your teaching strategy?
Forde: I have had the great opportunity to work in different business areas and led teams in the U.S., India, United Kingdom, and Mexico. This global work gave me a different perspective and allowed me to learn different cultures. I like to infuse this type of global view and thinking into the courses I teach. Weekly discussion questions are a great place to dialogue with students on various global issues and viewpoints. I have found students are very interested in gaining this type of perspective.
Brenda Forde first introduced her son to baking sugar cookies when he was two years old, and they have been enjoying the tradition together ever since.
Ashford: Can you briefly describe one of your best teaching moments so far?
Forde: One of my favorite topics to discuss with students is business ethical decisions. I believe it is vitally important that students think about business ethics and ‘what if’ scenarios, so when they are faced with something similar in real life, they have a reference point and ultimately can make better decisions. I have had students apply what we discussed regarding ethics in the classroom to an immediate work situation and then share that back with the class. This provided such rich information as we learn from each other and apply the material. Students become engaged, and the next thing you know, they are way over the minimum weekly posting requirements. More sharing occurs, and we bring the online course to life. As an instructor, this type of experience is quite a thrill!
Brenda Forde believes in a healthy rapport with herself and her students, staying "active" inside and outside of the online classroom.
Ashford: What is your favorite thing about online education? How do you create rapport with students in a virtual classroom?
Forde: I like the flexibility and how it allows all types of people to further their education. I believe rapport is built with each student’s interactions, from announcements, weekly discussion postings, emails, and grading feedback. I try to be very prompt in all my replies so that students know that I am here for them and they can count on me. I like to have a comfortable dialogue but also very professional, as we should always be practicing our business writing.
Ashford: What's your personal mantra or favorite quote?
Forde: I was quoted as saying this a few years ago and truly believe it: “Hard work and persistence unlock the door to a successful career and life.”
Ashford: Who do you look to as a role model or mentor and why?
Forde: I think we get locked into a few people and some sort of unrealistic idea of mentoring. I have seen all my experiences and interactions with people as an opportunity to learn, gain, as well as share ideas. In that way, I have had many, many mentors throughout the years.
Brenda Forde makes muscle gains with a deadlift.
Ashford: What are some of your favorite activities or hobbies outside of work?
Forde: I started weight training nearly two years ago and absolutely love it! I like to be active in hiking, biking, and running. I also love to go on vacations, hang out at the beach, and enjoy interesting, stimulating conversation.
Ashford: What are you currently reading and/or watching?
Forde: I love to binge watch shows on Netflix, too many to mention!
Written by Ashford University staff