Christine Janssen-Selvadurai, Business Professor
Christine Janssen-Selvadurai, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the management systems area at the Fordham Schools of Business.
In 2003, Christine Janssen-Selvadurai enrolled in a doctoral business program to explore technology, culture and the way people learn.
Four years later, only halfway through earning her doctoral degree, she was laid off from Citibank in a huge round of downsizing due to the weakening economy. This was the third time she had been a victim of downsizing since 9/11. Determined, Janssen-Selvadurai came up with a plan.
“That same day, I decided I was starting my own business,” said Janssen-Selvadurai, who earned her M.B.A. at the Graduate School of Business Administration in 2001. “Before then, I never even entertained the thought. But when your back is up against the wall and jobs are scarce, starting your own business sounds like a pretty good option.”
She parlayed 20 years of experience in marketing, market research, new product development and business development into Denken Research and Consulting, a boutique firm providing research, writing, educational and consulting services for small businesses, particularly startups.
In the process, she realized her entrepreneurial experiences would make a great subject for her dissertation.
“I have always been interested in how people learn, and I considered many avenues for my research,” she said. “But when I launched my own business, it was a no-brainer for me to study how female entrepreneurs learn.
“I focused solely on women because there’s been a big surge of female entrepreneurs over the last decade or so. I wanted to know how they became entrepreneurs and how they learned. I also wanted to find out where the gaps were and how I could help them become better, more successful entrepreneurs.”
Through her research, she found that women start businesses to improve their lifestyles—not necessarily to turn a profit.
“Overall, these women were very motivated, dedicated risk-takers who liked to be in control. But unlike men, these women were driven by the desire to have a specific lifestyle—one that gave them a voice, freedom, perhaps flexibility to raise a family. They said, 'I really don’t care if I make a million dollars. I want to do something fulfilling and rewarding.’”