The worlds of business and academia aren’t combined very often, but for UMKC Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer, a 2019 honoree for Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, both require the same leadership skills.
“For me, what it means to be a woman who means business is a woman who has a seriousness, a purpose in achieving our mission,” said Bichelmeyer.
Bichelmeyer stood out from the other Women Who Mean Business nominees by being from a nonprofit organization. She believes the skills required of a good leader should be utilized in the academic world, highlighting the efforts of UMKC’s leadership in creating a new strategic plan.
However, there are differences in being a leader in academics compared to business.
“In academia, our job is to help our students to grow,” Bichelmeyer said. “Our job is to help our faculty to research and learn.”
Describing academia as a “people’s business,” Bichelmeyer thinks a key to keeping the business well run is to help others be successful. The provost believes listening to coworkers and students alike is vital.
She says another key is taking personal initiative.
“The most important thing is: whatever work is in front of you, do it to the best of your ability,” Bichelmeyer said. “Then, many opportunities will come to you for doing your work well.”
Bichelmeyer admitted she was humbled by her nomination, saying it’s the lessons she’s learned throughout her career that got her to where she is now.
The heart of success for Bichelmeyer is to seize the opportunities the world presents to you.
“For women particularly, we’re not taught to represent our own voices and needs very well,” Bichelmeyer said. “It took me a while to learn that it’s okay in work to ask for what I need to be successful. In fact, it’s my responsibility.”
Bichelmeyer hopes to continue using her skills to propel UMKC into the future.