Heidi is an assistant professor of marketing in WCU’s College of Business. Prior to arriving at Western, she worked in industry for 25 years. In April 2020, she finished her Doctorate in Business Administration from Jacksonville University after selling the company she owned with her husband. Her research interests include marketing technology, artificial intelligence in marketing, and online consumer behavior.

Blending her passion for artificial intelligence and online consumer behavior with her industry expertise, Heidi is working with a local resort retailer to build and use an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot to measure applicant experience and engagement.

“Western North Carolina has a unique combination of retirement, tourism, and students and employers are struggling to try to find people,” Heidi said. “If we can utilize tactics to better engage prospective employees, as well as overcome any potential suppressing obstacles, we may be able to engage a larger prospective applicant audience.”

Heidi is also very interested in understanding how people engage with technology and thus creating an experience that is more positive rather than negative. “We want to create experiences that are more engaging than not, as well as open doors for individuals who may have not been considered otherwise,” said Heidi. Focusing on Western North Carolina, leveraging technology has the potential to impact economic distribution through our region.

In addition, Heidi has also been working with one of our other Faculty Affiliates, Martin Tanaka, to analyze industry/academic collaborations and what factors might show potential for successful collaborations. Collaborations between industry and academia benefit students, faculty, organizations, and ultimately the economic region. Look out for Martin’s discussion of this research in a CSFE Issue Brief coming up later this year.

Technology is already a part of our daily lives, and by continuing to monitor how we interact with it and how it could be best utilized, there is huge potential to directly impact our society.

“Awareness is the first step to building the future that we want to see,” said Heidi.

We are excited to see Heidi’s research and work with her this year. Welcome aboard!