As executive vice president and chief investment officer at Well Fargo Bank, Erik Davidson has a well-established career overseeing a team of 450 and $180 billion in investments for private clients. Even so, his inquisitive nature and a quest, he says, to “address business challenges in new and deeper ways” led him back to school.
Davidson is enrolled in DePaul University’s Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), a three-year, part-time doctoral degree program where leaders learn advanced research skills for uncovering business insights and transforming organizations.
In this Q&A, Davidson discusses why he decided to pursue a DePaul DBA and how this program is helping him take his career to the next level.
What led you to enroll in DePaul’s DBA program?
I enrolled due to my strong academic bent, as well as an ever-present intellectual curiosity. I have wanted to pursue a doctorate degree for many years. I chose DePaul's DBA program due to its national reputation, Chicago location in a long-established business center and convenient location to travel to, and DePaul’s strong finance department, with a specialty in behavioral finance.
How does the program help advance your career?
Growing my understanding of sound academic, evidence-based research and analysis has already been helpful in addressing certain business challenges in new and deeper ways. Already, I have found numerous applications of my coursework and research to the responsibilities that I have as an investment expert as well as a business leader. At some future point in my career, I may transition into an academic role, but even if I don't I have absolutely no doubt that this program has enhanced my current vocational pursuits and personal development as well as my value to my company.
How would you describe the quality of the faculty?
The quality and engagement of the faculty has far exceeded my expectations. I am amazed not only by their expertise and depth of knowledge, but also by their sincere interest as well as accessibility. It is important to remember that the DBA program is the only doctoral offering within DePaul's business program, so the interest of professors in the program is likely much higher than if there were also a traditional doctoral program competing for their attention.
What have you learned from working with the other professionals in your DBA cohort?
The diversity of my cohort is very impressive and stimulating. My colleagues bring a depth of background, expertise and experience that deeply enriches the learning experience for everyone.
What advice do you have for other professionals considering a DBA?
I advise three things. First, go in with your eyes wide open. This is a lot of work—15 to 20 hours per week is what was told to me and that is accurate from my perspective. Second, make sure you discuss thoroughly and have full support with your loved ones before embarking on this quest. It truly is a team effort and commitment. Last, recognize that there is never an "ideal" time to embark on such a significant effort.
Learn more about the DePaul Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA).