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Ned Wellman: Learning about leadership

Faculty Sketch

Assistant Professor Ned Wellman had an opportunity to teach negotiations as part of his PhD program and thought it was so fascinating, he’s been teaching it ever since.

“So much of negotiations is trying to get inside the head of your opponent and figure out what’s motivating them. It’s a fun class to teach to MBAs. I love getting notes from former students when they tell me they learned something in class that helped them in their careers,” he says.

Ned has been teaching in the W. P. Carey Department of Management and Entrepreneurship since 2013.

“My father is an academic, so I had some exposure to this career growing up. That planted the seeds in my head,” says Ned, who received his PhD in management and organization from the University of Michigan.

“I’ve always been interested in why people do things. When I was in high school, I played basketball on a team that was really bad. Then all of a sudden, we got a new coach who made everyone practice harder and play better. He took our team from one of the worst to state champions in two years. That got me started thinking about leadership and teams.”

After earning a BA in psychology from the University of North Carolina, Ned traveled around and worked as a consultant for a few years.

“Even in Fortune 500 companies, I noticed that these same issues of leadership and team dynamics were important to a company’s success. It was eye-opening,” says Ned. So when he made the decision to go back to school, that’s what he decided to study.

“There’s an emphasis here at W. P. Carey on the value of applied research. I feel like I’m working on projects that are actually relevant and useful to people in the world. And the results are going to help them do amazing things,” says Ned.

“There are questions still out there about leadership and teams that we just do not know the answers to and getting the opportunity to be one of the people that gets to figure them out is exciting.”

Ned is currently working on research projects for NASA and the National Science Foundation.

“One of the things I’m really interested in learning more about is the process of becoming a leader. The seeds are planted at a really young age. As early as second grade, you already have an idea of what a good leader looks like. At that age, you begin developing your leadership philosophy. I’m interested in the journey people go through throughout their lives that shapes who they are as leaders.”

Ned is thankful he’s had such great mentors at W. P. Carey, who’ve push him to excel as a faculty member.

“My colleagues have taught me a lot about the best ways to work with students. There’s a balance between showing them what to do and letting them figure things out themselves. At the end of the day, I want them to feel confident in what they’re doing,” says Ned.

When Ned isn’t busy studying how to best structure formal authority in teams in a pro-social way that benefits everyone, he’s busy practicing yoga, playing basketball, or camping under the stars with his family.

Professional

What’s your favorite W. P. Carey School event? W. P. Carey’s Got Talent Lip Sync Battle. The passion and involvement of staff and faculty blows me away. I really look forward to it.

Where is your “never fail” lunch spot on or near campus? Little Miss BBQ. It’s legit. It’s a little further from campus, but I try to visit at least once a semester.

What was your first job and what did it teach you? My first job was in high school, coaching summer basketball camps for younger kids in second and third grade. It taught me patience. And that any time you pay attention to a younger person and teach them something, it can impact them in a positive way. So maybe it influenced my choice of career a bit.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student? The big thing is to get some hands-on research experience. It’s not for everyone. And it’s not all glamourous. There’s a lot of grunt work. If you want to be a successful academic, you learn to love the research process.

What has surprised you most about your current position? We actually like one another in our department. There’s a strong culture of team work and collaboration at W. P. Carey. It’s not like that at other universities, and it really makes this a special place to work.

Personal

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? After I graduated college, a friend and I backpacked around Europe for six weeks without an itinerary or much money. We got a Eurail Pass, saw the sights and had a ball.

If you could be in any other career, what would it be? A rock star.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Scandinavia. I’m a quarter Swedish, you know. I’ve never been, but I hope to in 2025.

What’s your hidden talent? I love music, especially live shows. I dabble at playing guitar.

What is something absurd or unusual that you collect? I collect space memorabilia, like coins that are made from decommissioned spacecraft.

Preferences

Salty or sweet? Salty
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Soda or energy drink? Soda
Cat or dog? Dog
Truck or car? Car
Board games or video games? Board games
Fiction or non-fiction? Fiction
Facebook or face-to-face? Face-to-face
Breakfast or lunch? Breakfast
Morning person or night owl? I’m one of the biggest morning people you’ll ever meet.