University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Customer Focus

Customer Centric Leadership Initiative

The Customer Centric Leadership Initiative promotes thought leadership and ongoing inquiry among scholars, students, business leaders and regulators to address the evolving marketing and customer engagement challenges inherent in an omnichannel, transparent and hyperconnected marketplace through education, research and outreach.

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Why It Matters

Today the customer is in control and how companies interact and engage customers’ expectations requires a re-thinking of traditional silos, technology and ways of working across marketing, customer care, omnichannel shopping and product management.

New conversations and thinking is required to adapt agile, customer-centric organization and business models to meet the evolving customer expectations. Students entering today’s business environment will be faced with a broader set of challenges that cross multiple disciplines.

Walton College is uniquely positioned to lead and convene the conversations and research that will result in a more prepared graduate and more capable organizations

A Message from the Founder and Executive Chair

Andy Murray is a subject matter expert and thought leader in retail/shopper marketing. He has extensive leadership experience through senior roles as SVP of Marketing at Walmart, Chief Customer Officer of Asda UK, as well as founding several startups including ThompsonMurray, Saatchi and Saatchi X, Mercury 11, and most recently, BigQuest. BigQuest’s mission is to help teams and individuals develop a compelling quest that drives growth, professionally and personally. Andy’s own quest has taken him back to Fayetteville, Arkansas, as the Founder and Executive Chair of the Customer Centric Leadership Initiative.

Andy Murray

I’m really excited to be leading this initiative in collaboration with faculty, students and industry.

Connecting with customers today in ways that enhance the customer experience, drives growth and works at scale has never been more complex but also has never been more important.

In our quest to improve the customer experience, we’ll explore all facets of emerging technologies and best practices of industry practitioners and educators.

From my experience in working in CPG, agencies and retailers, I’ve never failed to learn something new about how to connect with customers when diverse parties come together to explore how to best serve customers.

Andy Murray
Founder and Executive Chair, Customer Centric Leadership Initiative
Founder, bigQuest
Chair, Asda Foundation

Meet the Faculty Advisory Board

Brent Williams

Brent Williams

Dean of the Walton College of Business

Dr. Williams is the Dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. With a deep commitment to fostering excellence in business education and thought leadership, Dr. Williams brings a wealth of experience to his role, shaping the future of the college and its impact on students and the business community.

Jeff Murray

Jeff Murray

Department Chair and Professor, Department of Marketing

Dr. Murray teaches in the undergraduate program, the full-time MBA program, the managerial MBA program, and the executive MBA program in Shanghai, China. His research focuses on critical marketing, interpretive consumer research, and the philosophy of science.

Amy Lynn Farmer

Amy Lynn Farmer

University Professor, Department of Economics

Dr. Farmer received her Ph.D. at Duke University in Economics before becoming a professor at the University of Arkansas. Her research has been published in several journals and publications including Review of Law and Economics and Journal of Population Economics.

Cara Osborne

Cara Osborne

Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing

In one of the more difficult customer experience fields, Cara Osborne is a leader when it comes to customer experience in the healthcare industry. Cara has spent time overseas with "Midwives of Haiti" training others on becoming midwives.

Christopher C. Rosen

Christopher C. Rosen

University Professor, Department of Management

Dr. Rosen's research broadly considers how work-life experiences affect the well-being, attitudes, and performance of organizational members. His research has also focused on methodological questions pertaining to the measurement and modeling of psychological constructs. His research has appeared in outlets such as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and others.

Katie Terrell

Katie Terrell

University Instructor, Department of Accounting

Katie Terrell has taught students around the world, including at Soochow University in China, University College Dublin in Ireland, and Duoc UC, a branch of the Catholic University of Chile. She is a member of the American Accounting Association and has published a Statement on Management Accounting for the Institute of Management Accountants on managing organizational change in operational change initiatives.

Molly Rapert

Molly Rapert

Associate Professor, Department of Marketing

Dr. Rapert teaches in the area of Marketing Management and Global Consumers. She is passionate about teaching, incorporating the unique approach of a reading-based, seminar-style undergraduate course which is designed in collaboration with her Advisory Board of twenty executives. Dr. Rapert also serves as the Director of the Walton College of Business Center for Teaching Effectiveness and served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Arkansas Alumni Association and the Walton College Alumni Society, among many other service activities.

Tim Riley

Tim Riley

Assistant Professor, Department of Finance

Before becoming a professor at the University of Arkansas, Tim Riley spent two years as a financial economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission where he worked on mutual fund liquidity regulation. Tim’s work has been featured by national media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Institutional Investor, and Morningstar.

Varun Grover

Varun Grover

David D. Glass Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor, Department of Information Systems

Dr. Grover has published extensively in the information systems field, with over 400 publications, 250 of which are in major refereed journals. Over ten recent articles have ranked him among the top four researchers globally based on the number of publications in the top IS journals, as well as citation impact. Dr. Grover has an h-index of 91 and around 38,000 citations on Google Scholar.

Rodney Thomas

Rodney Thomas

Associate Professor, Supply Chain Management

Rodney W. Thomas is Director of the Undergraduate Supply Chain Management Program and an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management in the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. His research interests focus on behavioral aspects of supply chain management.

Scope of Areas of Inquiry

  • The role of the customer as a function or discipline in an organization.
    • The future of marketing in a customer-centric organization.
    • New tools and capabilities to evolve the customer journey.
    • The cross-functional connections across customer care, PR, marketing, media, product management, I.T. and suppliers.
  • The evolving marketing and customer technologies.
    • Assessing martech and the customer technology road map.
  • Policies, guidelines and usage of customer data.
    • Managing first-party data and governance.
    • Brand reputation and guardianship management.
  • The implications for educators and academic institutions.
    • Curriculum, skills and experiences to prepare students for leadership in this evolving space.
  • The implications for agencies, marketers, publishers and advertisers.
    • How the ecosystem of agencies, brands, publishers and retailers adapt to the changes in roles, ways of working and best practices to deliver on evolving customer expectations.
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