College of Business and Economics

DBA Spotlight: Julia Davidyan

April 25, 2017

Written by Dana Krems | photo by Craig Schreiner

Julia Davidyan formed a strong knowledge base during her ten years of auditing practice, including almost six years with a public pension system. With a keen desire to share her expertise and experience through teaching, she became an adjunct instructor at a two-year institution where she mentored and guided students in career options that included accounting and auditing. However, she understood a terminal degree would be required to truly transition from practice to academia.

Julia’s daughter was five years old at the time and she could not pause her career to complete a traditional Ph.D. program, so she selected the Doctorate of Business Administration as her goal. AACSB accreditation and the institution’s reputation were very important to her, as well as the program’s format, location and overall cost. Weighing all these criteria, she chose the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater DBA program.

Knowing that a DBA program would be rigorous and intensive, Julia had long conversations with her husband and other family members to discuss the time commitment and ensure she would have their support. Despite this preparation, the first semester of coursework was a shock. “There were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of coffee,” she admitted. “And I learned quickly that procrastination would not work.”

She elaborated, “This is not like another MBA degree. The thinking is different and the approach is different. You won’t be spoon-fed projects. It’s the same level as a Ph.D. You have to do the heavy lifting.”

Fortunately, the cohort model is intended to be supportive and collaborative. Julia’s cohort realized they needed to work together to succeed. She stressed, “This journey is difficult to undertake alone. You have a better chance of succeeding if you find a couple of people to work with, because you learn from each other and help each other.”

Once they got passed the first hurdle – surviving the first semester – the group formed a strong core and found a rhythm. However, a new challenge arose when they transitioned from coursework into the dissertation phase. Julia explained, “The dissertation takes a lot of self-discipline and motivation. If you don’t do the work and submit drafts to your committee in a timely manner, they aren’t going to chase after you.”

In retrospect Julia felt the program’s premier cohort faced some unique challenges as its trailblazers, but that the timing had still been right for her. She explained, “My daughter is three years older now, and she wants more of my undivided attention. She wants mommy to put down her book and laptop.”

Reflecting on the DBA journey as a whole, Julia related, “This has been a great experience. It’s been challenging, but I learned a lot. With this bridge from practice to academia, I can now fully understand my potential role in academia and what I can contribute.”

In closing, she shared, “The DBA is a great program, because you don’t have to sacrifice your current employment. This is a very powerful tool to have in your toolbox. Regardless of what you intend to do with this degree in terms of your future career, the sooner you earn it, the better.”

UW-Whitewater’s AACSB-accredited Doctorate of Business Administration program is a professional doctorate that enables students to develop in-depth expertise in a specific business area. The DBA is a 60-credit program offered using a cohort model where students attend classes one weekend each month for two years, followed by a year of dissertation work.