By Hanna DeLange '18 M.A.
Although Emily (Paulson) Quinn, M.B.A., didn't follow a linear path to teaching at the university level, her unconventional journey and 20 years of experience have primed her for a role in shaping minds at the Beacom School of Business.
“I literally feel like I dropped out of the sky into the teaching realm,” Quinn said. “I’m so happy to be in that space and the environment at Beacom.”
With dreams of becoming an actress, an 18-year-old Quinn ventured from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Los Angeles, California, where she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She later returned to the Midwest and received her bachelor’s degree in theater at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. After that, Quinn spent five years in the Twin Cities area performing and doing voice overs—until her career path took a turn.
“Performing led to producing television and video and that transferred into project management in IT,” Quinn recounted. “That led to managing web development projects, which then brought me to marketing. All those experiences have led me here.”
It was then a desire to share and mentor others that brought Quinn to teaching.
“There came a point in my career where I had enough experiences, and I just wanted to share those. I have almost 20 years of experience in the craft of storytelling and marketing, and I have worked in nine different industries, from health care to hospitality,” she said.
Quinn began guest-lecturing college classes and speaking at conferences around Sioux Falls, which is when she was told multiple times she had a flair for teaching.
She didn’t believe it at first, but when the opportunity came up for Quinn to adjunct—she took it. Eventually, a full-time teaching position opened at Beacom, and today, she teaches a variety of subjects, ranging from marketing, digital marketing, consumer behavior, organizational behavior, operations and marketing, Business 101 and Executive Education.
“After the first class, I was hooked,” said Quinn. “It satisfied what I hoped to do—share my experience and inform others.”
In the classroom, Quinn said she has a unique style of teaching where creativity is a focus, and her background helps her empathize and relate to her students.
“I do push everybody—from a finance student to an economics student—to bring about their creativity,” she explained. “It doesn’t have to be in beautifully designed templates or wonderful presentations, but I push my students to show how they can bring their skills into the marketing realm. Marketing used to be a career for a good writer or a great graphic design artist. Now, because of analytics and the digital space, and because we have that many more tools at our fingertips, it allows anyone to get into marketing. I encourage collaboration, and I want students to bring all their unique talents into one environment.”
Bailey Zimmerman, a senior business marketing major and one of Quinn’s students, said Quinn connects well with students, and her passion for marketing is passed down to those she instructs.
Quinn is also forward-thinking and has helped Beacom adapt to the ever-changing digital space by creating a new upper-level digital marketing course. To further prepare students for life after college, Quinn also organizes “Digital Discovery Day” to introduce her students to digital marketing agencies in Sioux Falls. “It gives students the opportunity to see workspaces, talk with some of the employees and get familiar with all the exciting things happening in digital marketing in Sioux Falls,” Quinn said.
Zimmerman, who had an internship with The Event Company in Sioux Falls over the summer, said the day helped her become more confident in networking. “Being able to talk with big-name marketing companies in an intimate setting was extremely beneficial,” said Zimmerman.
Quinn’s passion for teaching is palpable. One can see that she truly enjoys getting to know students and equipping them with the tools they need to further their education or go on to their career.
“Professor Quinn’s core characteristics that make her beyond exceptional in her profession is her passion that she instills in students and her ability to easily connect with them,” Zimmerman said. “Once you step into the lecture hall, she is ready to delve into the lesson plan and share information that is vital to our future.”
Though her career path changed, Quinn hasn't given up her desire to act. "I perform with a group called Improv Falls, which is based in Sioux Falls," said Quinn. "I love improve because it breaks down all barriers. It gets rid of the 'no voice,' and leans towards the 'yes voice.' Everything is okay in the improv space. There isn't anything wrong. I really love to operate in that space."
Quinn has found that improv has similar principles to marketing—principles Quinn wants her students to take with them.