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Arkansas Local Kelly Massey Finds His Niche After Moving South to Pensacola

UWF MBA Entrepreneurship faculty Kelly Massey

As regional director of the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and an instructor at the University of West Florida (UWF), Kelly Massey has the best of both worlds.

"I like teaching as a side gig," he said. "It's fun, but I prefer working directly with the businesses. It's a blast. We are kind of the community outreach arm for the College of Business.

"Many of our instructors at UWF — particularly adjunct professors — are successful businesspeople in the community, as well. That's always a plus."

Massey, 47, came to UWF in January 2014. He is an instructor in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship program.

"I never taught online courses until I got to UWF," he said. "Now, I've taught in person, blended and fully online. I had people from outside the country take courses. I had a student in Morocco. I record the content in advance so it's asynchronous.

"I also allow students to schedule meetings when they break up into teams. I try to attend as many of the meetings as I can. I am available if they need me. It's a good thing — particularly with the pandemic. I was glad that I already had fully online classes lined out. There was nothing for me to adjust."

Along with the enjoyment that Massey derives from both of his roles, he feeds off the positive work environment at UWF.

"I look forward to coming to work," he said. "The people I interact with — the department heads, my staff, the dean of the college of business — are very enthusiastic to push the university forward.

"We have a good group of leaders here who want to advance the college. That makes me want to show up to work every day."

Ready, Willing and Able

Massey grew up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and stayed home to attend college at Henderson State University (HSU). He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (1996) and an MBA in management (2009).

"I got into human resources when I went to work at the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa after I got my undergrad degree," he said. "I went through the management training program. There happened to be an opening in human resources, so I started working in the HR department and learned a great deal. I then got into HR in manufacturing for several years."

When Massey returned to his alma mater for a master's degree, he landed a job at the university's Small Business and Technology Development Center. Then, in 2012, he was named the U.S. Small Business Administration's National Counselor of the Year for small business development centers and traveled to Washington D.C. to receive the award from the SBA Administrator at U.S. Small Business Week.

"I got into teaching because most of the directors of SBDCs teach one or two classes as adjunct faculty as part of their contract," he said. "I did it for six years at HSU."

Massey leapt at the opportunity to advance his career by earning a promotion as a regional director when he came to UWF in January 2014.

"I have taught courses on organizational behavior, but I have mainly been doing small business management or small business management consulting," he said. "We try to teach students who want to start a business in the future, giving them the tools that they need to develop a business plan, and the knowledge of grants and loans that are out there."

Panhandle Bliss

One of Massey's favorite elements of his career is pairing up students with local business owners to do live case studies related to marketing. He calls it a "win-win-win."

"It's a win for the students because they do something with a real business. They meet the business owner and work on projects," he said. "It's a win for the business when students do an analysis on a company's social media platforms and how they're using it to market their business."

It's a win for the SBDC as well because it helps the organization reach more clients.

Massey said, "We only have a certain number of hours for consultants to work with businesses here. In my region, we have 15 consultants who cover 10 counties. We're trying to stretch that as far as possible."

In his free time, Massey enjoys hiking, walking, going to the gym and visiting his grandchild in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has no plans of slowing down any time soon.

"I hope to be at UWF for a very long time," he said. "I enjoy the job. I see retirement on the horizon, but I am good to work for a while."

Learn more about UWF's online MBA in Entrepreneurship program.

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