Q&A with Dean Joan Marques: On Joining the Burbank Chamber of Commerce Board

In late January, Dr. Joan Marques, Dean of the School of Business, was formally appointed to the Board of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. Below, Dean Marques discusses the Chamber, the vibrancy of Burbank as a place to do business, and Woodbury University’s central role in the business life of the city.  

How did your appointment to the Board come about?

Through a series of realizations and actions. For some time now, I’ve been wanting to establish a more solid relationship with local business leaders, but a number of other things demanded my attention. One constant: members of the School of Business Advisory Board frequently suggested that I apply to the Chamber board.  Advisory board member Michael Cusumano, himself a respected member of the Chamber Board, encouraged me to explore the opportunity. I contacted President Steele’s office, where I learned that a Woodbury Board position happened to be vacant at that moment. Thanks to Dr. Steele’s office and Michael’s support, I was invited to apply, and found, to my elation, that I was elected to the Board.

Have you had interactions with the Chamber over the years?  If so, how would you characterize those interactions?

My interactions with the Chamber have actually been less frequent in recent years, but when they occurred, they were always highly constructive – for instance, through events like a gala at the Calamigos Equestrian Center.  I was enamored with the positive, accommodating atmosphere, and impressed with the accomplishments of Chamber members. On a different level, Dr. Paul Sabolic, strategy professor at Woodbury and yet another Chamber member, has been working successfully with local business leaders to put the School of Business on their radar. That’s especially fitting during this, the Chamber’s 100th anniversary year.

What will your role on the Board be?

During some upcoming meetings with Tom Flavin, the Chamber’s CEO, I expect to learn more about board membership, its requirements, the activities in which I can participate, and the way meetings will be conducted. I do intend to serve as a worthy liaison between Woodbury — the only AACSB school headquartered in Burbank — and the Chamber Board.  I’m looking for some interesting win-win-win initiatives and collaborations emerging from this — winning for the Chamber and its members, winning for Woodbury University, and winning for all direct and indirect stakeholders.

How would you describe Burbank as a place to do business?

I’ve lived and worked in Burbank for 17 happy years, and it’s most definitely a leading hub for business. Just consider the number of entertainment companies based here, but the city’s stature isn’t limited to entertainment. Burbank’s business climate is both organized and accommodating.  As a small business owner in Burbank since 2006, I’ve always seen or experienced efficiency, effectiveness, and a desire to help everyone succeed.

Institutionally, how has Woodbury interacted with the Board, and do you anticipate that relationship changing in any way? 

Over the years, several Woodbury administrators have served on the Board, consistently representing our institution in a dignified way.  With my addition to the Board, I hope to enhance awareness among local business leaders about the wonderful options we offer to working members of society and their children, to attend an institution that is highly accredited in all its program offerings, and that presents a very pragmatic approach to high-level education, aimed at positive societal impact and instant applicability in the professional world.

Burbank is sort of a company town, but not exclusively. Apart from the entertainment industry, where is growth coming from these days?

The retail industry remains one of the leading business sources in Burbank, with $218 million spent on retail in the city’s tourism economy in 2018 alone. Tourism ranks as an industry on its own, along with the hospitality industry: hotels in Burbank have experienced steady growth in occupancy in roughly the last six years, with $157 million spent on lodging in 2018. When factoring in food and beverage consumption, recreation and transportation, visitors to Burbank generated an impressive $869 million in 2018 alone.

So, considering the income-generating resources in Burbank — a strong growth parameter – the entertainment industry remains by far the largest employer, accounting for more than 34,000 jobs. Professional, scientific and technical disciplines generate about half (17,000 jobs), followed by broadcasting (excluding broadcasting over the Internet) with almost 5,000 jobs; health care services account for another 4,300 jobs, and local government 4,200 more.

In the wake of your appointment, any final takeaways?

I am excited about the opportunity to help place Woodbury’s exceptional blend of business education programs onto the radar of Burbank’s business leaders. The same applies to our design, architecture and liberal arts options. Above all, I’m happy to share with them the many advantages we can offer to members of the local community who would like to pursue affordable education in a highly accredited, ethically sound environment, on an aesthetically appealing campus, right in their backyard.

Education is a proven path toward continued growth and improvement. Having learned and experienced this firsthand, I am eager to pay it forward, so that we at Woodbury can contribute to the shaping of a community marked by its enhanced awareness, expertise, and unique growth potential.