From the Football Field to the Classroom

Entering college as a promising athlete, Trent Williams, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Whitman School, didn’t know he would end up in academia.

“In addition to obtaining my English and philosophy degrees, I spent a lot of time in the gym and on the field,” he said. “My plan was to pursue sports in college and beyond, but then I was injured and my whole world changed. All of a sudden I realized I needed to find a job.”

At first that was a challenging prospect. He didn’t have the real-life experience that internships provided and he struggled to find the right match for his skill sets. After landing jobs at two different start-up companies, he became keenly interested in business and obtained an MBA from Purdue University.

“During my graduate work, I realized my skills were valuable after all, particularly my ability to think analytically and to write. It wasn’t a wasted skill but an asset in business,” Professor Williams said.

He worked for Deloitte Consulting in Dallas, Texas, and served as a consultant for PwC, as well before landing at Indiana University where he earned his Ph.D. in entrepreneurship and strategic management.

At the Whitman School Professor Williams teaches Introduction to Entrepreneurship to undergraduates, primarily Whitman minors.

“I feel my diverse background is extremely helpful to students, especially those who are not business majors,” Professor Williams said. “Many times they get a different perspective and come to see that varying skill sets are positives not negatives.”

He also teaches in the MBA and Defense Comptrollership Program where he focuses on using design thinking to help form solutions to a variety of business challenges.

Professor Williams’ research interests are focused in the area of behaviors under extreme resource constraint, including how people make decisions and form new ventures, as well as resiliency in the wake of major life changes. His work has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and the Journal of Business Venturing, among other top tier research journals.

When not teaching and writing, Professor Williams enjoys mountain biking, skiing and spending time with his family.