Don Cardarelli, professor of management practice at Whitman, grew up working in his family’s large building materials business. He counts that exposure to the various functions and facets of the company at such an impressionable age for igniting his interest in a business-oriented career.
He started down the accounting and finance (CPA/public accounting) path but gravitated to consulting assignments in troubled or turnaround situations. Prior to walking the halls of Whitman as a professor, Cardarelli had amassed nearly three decades of experience in executive management, operations, financial management and consulting, where many of his roles have been centered on resolving significant organizational and strategic challenges in the manufacturing, financial services, food distribution, energy distribution and aerospace sectors. He has served in division president and interim executive roles, and was most recently the CEO of a two billion dollar conglomerate.
“In what was to be a break between work assignments in 2003, I agreed to teach a few courses for the School of Management,” explains Cardarelli. “I have never looked back.”
Aside from his consulting practice, Cardarelli devotes the bulk of his time to teaching Whitman’s undergraduate students in the areas of strategy, business ethics and human resources. For years, his wife had encouraged him to teach, and she was right about it being the perfect match for him. “I love interacting with our students. I am always inspired by the exciting challenges I know they will tackle in their careers. It makes me happy to play a part in helping them prepare for those challenges.”
Also among the benefits Cardarelli has discovered during his stint as a professor of practice are the relationships with colleagues. “It is a privilege to be around the talented faculty at Whitman where research, business experiences and teaching all merge. The connections with students and faculty make this an unexpected but fulfilling career turn for me.”
Finding a variety of ways to leverage his practical perspective in the classroom to enhance learning is important to Cardarelli. “I have written cases from my own experiences that illustrate classroom concepts. I role-play with students and I constantly ask questions that put them in a problem-solving frame of mind.”
Cardarelli believes Whitman’s group of accomplished PoPs add significant value to business education in a couple of important ways. Certainly, sharing applied experiences is valuable to students, but he thinks the professors’ insights into specific career paths can help pull students toward specific pursuits. “Though learning about and solving real-world scenarios that we have encountered in our careers is beneficial, we can also help students understand the myriad of career paths they can take. That is a unique role that we can play…providing a window into the culture as well as the knowledge and skills required to succeed in each of our respective fields.”