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Spotlight on Walden // Jul 11, 2016

Meet a Graduate: Keeping a Steady Focus

Susan Bishop

Dr. Susan Bishop always knew she would earn her PhD—and she made it known. But as the years crept by, her friends understood that between running her own company, raising her daughter as a single parent, and volunteering, practically every waking minute was allocated. Yet still, they knew she would do it.

Dr. Bishop is the president and CEO of Bishop Partners in New York City—which recruits hundreds of senior-level executives for broadcast, publishing, and digital companies—and a faculty member at Pace University. She also actively contributes to Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign to help girls around the world rise out of poverty. And she has sat on several boards, including the Future Leaders Institute Charter School in Harlem, New York; The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants; and Women in Cable and Telecommunications.

It’s not hard to imagine how proud she will be as she crosses the stage at commencement on July 16 in National Harbor, Maryland, as a PhD in Management graduate. In celebration, Dr. Bishop shares her advice for current students:

Keep plugging away. Schedule time to dedicate your energy to your coursework or dissertation. “I’d sit at the library, but sometimes I didn’t know where to begin,” she says. “If I wrote, ‘I don’t know what to say, but this is about X,’ suddenly my mind started flowing.”

Get out of your regular environment. Go to a coffee shop, a bookstore, or anywhere you can concentrate. “At home, you’ll think about laundry,” she laughs.

If you’re really swamped, take a few days off. “It will re-energize you,” she explains. “Trying to push through when I didn’t have the energy was the hardest.”

Do bits at a time. Her faculty advisor recommended that she do a small amount of work every day, even if just for 10 minutes. “Frequently, I could only do a chunk once a week,” which often translated to a full Saturday. “I’d close my door and work, and made steady progress,” she says.

For Dr. Bishop, who recently turned 70, earning her degree marks a turning point in her career. In the coming year, she’d like to focus even more time on volunteerism, particularly mentoring students to give them the tools and advice they need to succeed. “My goal is to fully retire over the next year so I can fully dedicate my time to my work as a professor and as a volunteer,” she says.