Insurance Industry Leader Turned Faculty Member Brings Experience to Classroom, Leads UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management

Ivan Hudson, Director of the UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management and Lecturer, joined the College of Business faculty in fall 2023. In this interview, he shares his insights about his first semester, his advice for students, and his vision for what’s ahead in 2024.

Give us some highlights of your experience in the business environment from before you joined the UCA College of Business Faculty.

I got my career start with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. In November of 2008 I went to work for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as Program Associate. At this time in 2008, two-thirds of Arkansas voted to pass the Lottery legislation. Fast Forward to October of 2009 when I joined the start-up management team at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Over the three and a half year period that I was there, I served in a number of capacities, including Procurement Director and Internal Operations Director. I’ll completed my MBA while there, and when I finished my MBA program at UALR December 2012, I launched the Ivan Hudson Agency as my entry into the insurance industry. In March 2014, I secured my Series 6 and Series 63 designations to help set me apart in the industry.

Networking has always been important to me. My personal and professional mantra is “You can network or not work, but you can’t do both.” That really speaks to my core value of building relationships. Solid meaningful relationships, will take you places that even education and other resources can’t.

Career Facts about Director Hudson:

  • December 2012- Received MBA from UALR
  • December 2012 – Launched the Ivan Hudson Agency
  • 2017-2018 – President of Rotary Club of West Little Rock
  • President, National African-American Insurance Association – Arkansas Chapter
  • Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas, Education Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, National Diversity Council
  • NAREB National Insurance Committee (NNIC) Member

How did you hear about this position at UCA and what led you to focus your time in the classroom?
Although the insurance industry is robust and dynamic, it also is relatively small. When networking and getting involved in industry associations, I made meaningful connections that landed me at events on UCA’s campus. After learning more about the Insurance & Risk Management program, I connected with UCA’s EFIRM department and maintained ongoing communication. Once I learned that my predecessor had re-entered the industry and the Director role was vacant, I actually put on my thinking cap to see if I could help identify a strong candidate for the search committee to consider. The more I looked at the qualifications, I realized that I had the skillset and experiences that would provide unique perspective in the classroom. I was at a cross-section in my career where I decided the best use of my time was to leverage my experiences to invest in students.

Why did you choose the Insurance field as your subject of work?
The subject actually chose me. After working in economic development, private philanthropy government administration, I made a career transition December of 2012. I was fascinated by insurance and financial services after identifying there were huge gaps with consumer access and education around very basic principles. I launched an insurance agency and became an active professional in the industry by getting involved with various industry organizations. Insurance is a lot more technical than people realize, so I would spend a lot of time educating my clients. It’s the same energy and commitment to education that I bring when teaching in the classroom.

What about your job now teaching brings you the most joy?
I am thrilled about engaging with my fellow faculty members to bring real-time experiences to students that they would not get from lectures or just reading a text book. Part of my role requires me to serve as the Faculty Advisor for the the student organization dedicated to students pursing insurance and risk management, actuarial science and related degrees – Gamma Iota Sigma. Pouring into students and seeing their level of interest and understanding evolve is very rewarding.

Fall was your first semester here. What was your favorite part or memory from the semester?
My favorite part of the fall semester was hearing and seeing the students perspective evolve regarding various insurance topics and applications. Having a front row seat to students have “light bulb” moments and witnessing their level of understanding and interest grow was absolutely fascinating. There were even a few students that changed their major to Insurance & Risk Management.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?
I would encourage students to keep an open mind to the myriad of careers that await them by obtaining a degree from UCA COB. The business climate can be very fast-paced and dynamic and simultaneously, very rewarding! I’m a huge advocate for our Insurance & Risk Management program, because it is the only one of its kind in the state of Arkansas. If a student decides not to pursue Insurance & Risk Management as a major, it is still available as a consideration for a minor. Our institution and the College of Business specifically, is a primary source for local, regional and even national employers looking for top talent, no matter the major/minor. Business students have access to internship and real-time experiences that could lead to fascinating job and career paths.

After moving to the classroom, how do you envision 2024 being different for you ? What new goals and perspectives do you have going into this new year?
For 2024 and beyond, I believe it is important to continue highlighting the value of UCA’s Insurance program as the only one of its kind in Arkansas. There are lots of real-time changes in the insurance and financial services marketplaces that dictate future job and career opportunities that await our students. To that end, I would like to facilitate additional opportunities for industry leaders and professionals to engage with and inspire students in our program, and especially students that actively participate in Gamma Iota Sigma. The Alpha Psi Chapter housed here at UCA is the campus RSO geared towards networking and leadership development opportunities for students in insurance and risk-related fields. Personally, I plan to learn more about the UCA campus community and the at-large Conway community.

Aside from his duties as the Director of Center for Insurance & Risk Management at UCA, Hudson can be found this semester teaching in the classroom: one “Introduction to Insurance” course, one “Risk and Insurance” course, and two Insurance Practicum courses as well as an online “Risk and Insurance” course. He also is the sponsor for the Gamma Iota Sigma registered student organization on campus.

Faculty Feature: Get to Know Dr. Joe Thomas

Dr. Joe Thomas, Assistant Professor of CISA in the UCA College of Business, gives us all the details – professional and personal – about what drew him to business, mentors who have influenced his life, and advice he has for students.

Degree(s), Certificates, or Licenses Earned

  • PhD, Management Science Information Systems, Oklahoma State University
  • MA, Information Systems Management, Webster University
  • BS, Computer Science (w/ Teacher Certification), Texas State University

How long have you taught at UCA in the College of Business? 5 years

What classes do you teach for the College of Business?

Currently teaching:
– CISA 4361, Cybersecurity Governance & Policy
– CISA 4375, Cybersecurity Management
– CISA 2330, Business Statistic
– CISA 4/5380, Business Intelligence & Data Visualization
– BUAD 1300, Introduction to Business
Previously taught:
– CISA 4328, Systems Analysis & Design
– CISA 3321, Managing Systems & Technology
– CISA 2343, Desktop Decision Support Technology

What student organizations do you participate in or sponsor? Business & Information Technology (BIT) Club

What drew you to the business industry? When and how did you know for sure that an education in business was the right fit for you?

Well, I started out becoming a high school teacher in Computer Science and Mathematics. At the last minute I made an audible and joined the Air Force as a Communications Officer! During my 23-year military career I had many jobs, some extremely technical, some chock-full of leadership and management, and all had a taste of business. I never lost my love for teaching. So while in the Air Force, I earned my PhD, taught at the Air Force Academy, and was the Dean of a leadership school. To answer the question – I really didn’t choose the business industry, it kind of happened organically.

Explain how a mentor has influenced your life and career.

After God then my parents, the most influential person in my life is Roy Kurban. He was my Taekwondo instructor when I was a teenager. He gave me so many life lessons I couldn’t list them here, but a few of the big ones are self-discipline, empathy, and hard work. The one that led to my current career was a passion for teaching. I used to teach the little kids’ class—you know you got something if you can make push-ups the “reward,” and they ask for more. (Now…if I can only find a way to add push-ups to my statistics class 😉)

What do you do in your spare time?

I love cutting grass! Something about seeing your progress and the clean lines…and it’s me-time, no one bothers me, and it’s a great time to listen to an audiobook.

What is a favorite class or memory you have from your time as a COB faculty member?

When a student goes out of their way to tell me I’m a good teacher and they loved my class.

List creative ways you engage students in the classroom.

Well, it’s not very creative but it is effective—exhibit high energy and smile. Learning should be fun and so should teaching, so I let them see that I want to be there. Students tend to mirror the attitude the instructor brings into the classroom. Show empathy—students need to know we care about their success and empathize with their struggles. A student who knows I care is more inclined to come to class, on-time, ready to engage and learn. Be a good storyteller—I try to answer the “so what?” questions with as many real-world stories and examples as I can. And they don’t have to be my stories, professors can use real examples from other professors, professionals in your industry, or case studies. As long as it helps make the course content personal and meaningful, mission accomplished.

What research or publications are you working on now?

I’m working with Drs. Hill and Casey on a paper looking at the impact of COVID-19 on business classes, specifically business statistics. I’m also working with Dr. Chen and Dr. McMurtrey on two papers on the acceptance of e-payment systems in various cultures. I have a student-led research project looking at student success with regard to advanced placement and concurrent credit classes for incoming freshmen. Finally, my ongoing research is related to my dissertation topic on real-world high-stakes deception detection by looking at linguistic and paralinguistic cues.

Comment about a recent collaboration with a student.

This summer, I worked at the UCA/Acxiom IT Camp and got to work with a lot of great people. Two student volunteer mentors in particular stood out, Skyler Austen and Caylen Johnson. They were great – very hard workers, great ideas, and team players! Professors evaluate students as part of our job; they are our product, and the customers are the businesses that hire them. I would hire Skyler and Caylen every day of the week and twice on Sunday!

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students? 

Read!!! Seriously, read every day. Read for fun, read the classics, and read to learn something new. Personally, I like listening to audiobooks as I drive to and from work (it’s amazing what you can accomplish in those tiny nibbles of time). Oh, and read the syllabus {facepalm}!

The other advice I would give to students is: try to develop a hunger for learning. Becoming a lifetime learner is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and society. Learning is fun! Right now, I’m taking classes to get certifications in Tableau, and I’m loving it!

Your future employers (and the world) need people with self-discipline and grit. They also want lifetime learners who enjoy trying new things. Doing something you like to do is easy and fun, doing something you don’t is hard and painful. So jump in, do that class first, work really hard at it, and push yourself to do the best you can at something you don’t like–THAT is grit! Best case, you may learn you like it. Worst case, you learn why you don’t like it. Either way, you learn, and the mental pushups will make you stronger. But the best part is the pride you will feel after all the hard work and self-discipline it took to get to the finish line.

Finally – work hard, play hard, and be excellent to each other!

UCA College of Business Names 2020-2021 Outstanding Students

On April 8, 2021, the UCA College of Business held its annual Student Honors Banquet to celebrate the academic achievements of the College’s students and recognize the outstanding students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Outstanding students are those who take advantage of educational opportunities and show exemplary academic performance through internships, professional development and experiential education, volunteerism, and participation in clubs and activities.

The following students were awarded an outstanding status, chosen from over 1600 undergraduate and graduate students: [Read more…]