By Theda L. Rudd, MA., LPC.

As an MSU Alum, it is my hope that we will all see that learning and growing is a process, utilizing past experiences to recognize the transferability of our experiences and discovering what it is that makes one happy to get up each day. The question for me, MSU alumnae from years ago, is how do I sum up a 40 year career journey without writing the BOOK? I decided that I would outline the highlights and the realizations that took me to next new venture. So, here are my signposts and roadblocks that took me to the next steps throughout my career. I hope that this will be helpful to others.

I began my career as an educator, following the path of two generations of family educators. Fortunately, I have loved each step of my career path, especially those early stages of eagerness and naiveté. This is where I learned the most, usually from my own blatant mistakes. From Educator to Business Owner as a steep challenge for me as a thirty-years old. However, I soon learned that owning and managing a business enterprise with many employees is very similar to managing a classroom of students. You deal with each person where they are. You teach, motivate, and develop their knowledge and ability to grow and evolve into an asset for their company and society. You challenge the person, define the boundaries, and expand their confidence by giving feedback, guidance, and encouragement. This attitude and realization allowed my business to grow and to thrive.

In both of these environments, you also help employees, or students, to see the possibilities for themselves, and give your employee/ student the tools to succeed in their quest for success. I soon made the connection that I was a “teacher/coach” in both of these environments. I also learned that I enjoyed this role and found many opportunities to use my transferable skills. As a growing business owner, I received far more respect and income, than as an educator. This is a flaw in our society that often distorts reality.

My next career move was after twenty successful years in business. I realized that the personal rewards of an educator/coach would be more satisfying for me in another environment, as a wiser, older person. I sold the business and moved forward. My self-awareness was keen at this point in life and I had learned to listen to my inner voice, rather than societal values.

Becoming an MSU university professor in the Hospitality Business School was challenging and another learning curve for me. However, my bag of tools was again the transitional skills that I could draw from. Utilizing my education and training background, I learned to make the lectures engaging, and to ensure that class material was relevant to the students, and to show my passion and enthusiasm each day. I also shared my personal business experiences to provide real-life classroom activities. Thus, students could see that my course would prepare them for their future. I taught Human Resources and Customer Service courses, because these were my expertise; topics that I knew and loved most of all. The result was that I was happy and my students reaped the benefit of a great experience to guide them further.

©2012 Theda L. Rudd, All rights reserved. This and other topics will be the subject of a forthcoming book by the author.

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Theda Rudd served as the Associate Director in Career Services and manages the team of professionals that support sixteen career fairs on campus each year and the on-campus recruiting program for students seeking internships and full time position after graduation.  These activities are in conjunction with the various colleges within the university. In the 2011-12 academic year, she served as the Interim Executive Director of career services for the university.

She is a proud alumna of the University. Her long term involvement in the Greater Lansing community prepares her for community outreach and employer development, which are among her responsibilities.  Theda Rudd’s experience in entrepreneurship and business ownership attract many ambitious students to seek her advice.  She specializes in working with students in the final stages of career development as well as those exploring business ownership for their future.

Additionally, Theda Rudd taught  in The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University, from 2001 through 2011.  Ms. Rudd focused on the practical application of sound business practices in her teaching and research.  She lectures on Human Resources and Customer Service as they apply to the Hospitality Industry.  She honed her insights through over 20 years as the franchisee of eight McDonald’s restaurants, and through many leadership positions in that 31,000-restaurant organization.

Among many other awards, in 1997 McDonald’s Corporation recognized Theda for long-term system-wide contributions through the Golden Arch Award, the top award received by only the top one percent of franchisees worldwide.  She was also Honorary Alumna of the Year (1999) for The School of Hospitality   Business, MSU. In 2003, Ms. Rudd was awarded the ATHENA Award for community service and business excellence, and in 2005, the Leadership in Individual and Social Responsibility Award from Olivet College.

Theda Rudd has served on numerous community service boards of directors such as, Michigan State University Foundation, Lansing Community College Foundation, Sparrow Health System, and National City Bank. She is the Board Chair Emeritus of the Ronald McDonald House of Mid Michigan in Lansing, founded under her leadership in 2000.

 Leisure activities include weight training, hiking, dining and reading. Her love for travel allow exploring these passions in various parts of the world.  Theda is recently retired in Tucson , AZ.

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