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Trevis Certo: Rethinking research

Faculty Sketch

“My dad is a professor. My sister is a professor. I guess you could say academia runs in the family,” says Jerry and Mary Anne Chapman Professor in Business Trevis Certo.

“I didn’t always like research. I wanted my PhD because I really wanted to teach. Since research is a component of that, I learned to do research and discovered I really enjoyed it,” says Trevis. “My PhD advisor got me interested in corporate governance. I enjoy studying people at the top of organizations and how they make decisions.

“Most people don't realize how much we researchers are rejected. You work on these papers for months, sometimes years, only to hear no from publishers. The people who succeed are those who can handle rejection well, deal with it, pull themselves back up and get right back to it,” says Trevis. “Of course, that’s easier said than done.”

“More recently I've switched my focus a little to the research itself. Are we using the right tools, are we doing things properly across our field? That's been really fun. I'm working on a paper right now looking at ratios, and how they are used in models. I've always liked math, so I thought it was a good fit,” says Trevis.

Trevis recently completed three years at the chair of the Management and Entrepreneurship department. “I'm trying to remember what I did before I was chair,” he says with a laugh.

“I got to work with a lot of our PhD students. Research can be a very isolating job. Interacting with other researchers makes it more of a team sport. I enjoy being part of a team. It's a great opportunity to learn from others.”

“Solange Fedele, our business office manager, was a huge help in supporting me during my time leading the department. I enjoyed the experience,” he says.

“Fun fact: When I finished my PhD program at Indiana University, I interviewed here and did not get the job. They hired Amy Hillman instead. When Amy became department head years later, I applied again, and she ended up hiring me.”

When Trevis is not at W. P. Carey, he enjoys smoking meats and spending time with his family. 


What do you like about your job?

There's so much freedom in being able to choose what you want to research. I can't think of a better job than be able to investigate what you want every day.

What is one interesting or fun fact about your team/office?

We love to eat. We go out frequently. As a matter of fact, we just set a record. We had 26 people join us for lunch at Engrained the other day.

What’s your favorite W. P. Carey School event?

W. P. sCarey is the best! I look forward to it every year.

Have you ever received especially good advice?

When I was little, my dad told me performance was a function of motivation and ability. He taught organizational behavior. It takes ability to do things, but there are plenty of people who have all the ability in the world but just aren't motivated. Talent is necessary, but success depends largely on effort.

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

I was a dish washer at a retirement home. I learned not to talk back to the boss.


What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Our family went to Shanghai a few summers ago and had a blast. We ended up seeing the Great Wall of China in a lightning storm.

If you could be in any other career, what would it be?

I would play basketball in the NBA, be a guard for the Orlando Magic.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Italy. I‘d love to see Venice and Rome.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Flying. I want to feel the wind in my hair.

What movie can you watch over and over?

The original Star Wars trilogy.


Salty or sweet? Sweet

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Soda or energy drink? Neither

Cat or dog? Cats

Truck or car? Cars

Board games or video games? Neither

Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction

Facebook or face-to-face? Face-to-face

Breakfast or lunch? Breakfast

Morning person or night owl? Morning person