Jennifer Cainas, Sonia Casablanca, Shari Fowler, Michelle Lopez and Traci Johnston.
UF DBA alumni and students (from left) Jennifer Cainas, Sonia Casablanca, Shari Fowler, Michelle Lopez and Traci Johnston.

Meet the women of the UF Doctor of Business Administration

This Women’s History Month, the Warrington College of Business is honored to highlight just a few of our incredible female Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) alumni and students. Read about the impactful research of women across multiple UF DBA classes, why they joined the program and how it’s helping them achieve their professional and personal goals.

Class of 2017 

Jennifer Cainas | Clinical Professor | University of South Florida – Main Campus

Dissertation – “The Impact of CEO Regulatory Focus on the Adoption of Management Control Systems in Early-Stage Firms.” 

For her research, Dr. Cainas conducted a survey of CEO’s of entrepreneurial firms that measured the CEO’s regulatory focus (a psychological variable that speaks to how an individual achieves their goals) and how this influences the speed at which the CEO implemented different types of management control systems.  

“I joined the DBA program so that I could advance my career. I had been teaching at the University of South Florida for approximately 9 years at the time I began the DBA program. I wanted to earn a terminal degree so that I could expand my opportunities for teaching. In addition, I wanted to learn more about scholarly research.”

“The DBA provided me several opportunities upon graduation; I was recruited by several schools for both assistant professor and clinical professor positions, but ultimately decided to stay at USF (and I received a promotion). It has also enabled me to work with the DBA students at USF to serve on dissertation committees and teach graduate level courses. Because of the excellent preparation I received at UF, I have continued my research and was accepted for a publication in 2020.”

Class of 2019 

Sonia Casablanca | Interim Dean, Career and Technical Education and Professor of Business and Management | Valencia College

Dissertation: “Linking Leadership Empowerment Behaviors and Accountability to Employee Performance: The Influence of Self-Efficacy and Job Complexity.”

“My research combined theories of leadership, empowerment, accountability, self-efficacy, and job complexity. The study built and tested a theoretical model linking leadership empowerment behaviors and accountability with employees’ performance via self-efficacy as a mediating variable. Moreover, the study proposed an interactive relationship between self-efficacy and job complexity and evaluated its effect on employees’ performance. 

Results indicated that leadership empowerment behaviors and accountability positively influence employees’ perceptions of self-efficacy, which in turn influenced employees’ performance. However, contrary to research expectations, the positive relationship between self-efficacy and employees’ performance was stronger at low levels of job complexity than at high levels.

The study demonstrated the critical role leaders can have in increasing employees’ levels of self-efficacy by using both: (a) empowerment strategies such as increasing participation in the decision-making process, providing confidence that the performance could be high, enhancing the meaningfulness of employees’ jobs, and reducing bureaucratic constrains and (b) holding their employees accountable.”

“I joined the UF DBA program for several reasons: (a) outstanding and well renowned faculty, (b) University of Florida’s prestige and strong research foundation, (c) curriculum, (d) residency requirements (only two weekends per term), and (e) the ability to continue working while completing my doctoral degree.”

“The UF DBA program helped me advance in my career as an educator and business professional.”

Class of 2020 

Shari Fowler | Director of Accounting and Assistant Professor of Accounting | Indiana University – East

Dissertation: “Evidence of Cost Shifting in the Healthcare Industry.”

“I examined the effects of cost shifting within the healthcare industry given the dramatic structural changes caused by the enactment of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Specifically, I investigated longitudinal changes in Medicare reimbursement revenues and the relationship to changes in private and self-payer revenues. My dissertation also examined how hospital case mix and local market competition affected hospital cost shifting behavior.”

“I joined the UF DBA program because I was looking for an exceptional program that would equip me with the necessary tools to conduct high quality academic accounting research. I was drawn to this program above others because of the reputation of the Warrington College of Business and the faculty teaching in the program. It was also important to me that the program I attend was accredited by AACSB so that I would be considered a scholarly academic after graduation.”

“After graduation, I was promoted to a tenure track position, and then a year later, promoted again to Director of Accounting.  These opportunities would not have been afforded to me without my doctoral degree. The DBA program gave me a wealth of knowledge where I am confident in my ability to publish in academic journals and achieve tenure at my institution. The education I received from UF has propelled me to the next level in my career, and it was the best professional decision that I have made to date.”

Class of 2022 

Michelle Lopez | Industrial Engineering Manager | Boeing – South Carolina

Dissertation – Lopez’s research focused on sustainable leadership, and she seeks to define what sustainability within the workplace walls means and ultimately how we would then define sustainability leadership. 

“I joined the DBA program to better understand how I can study and improve the leader/employee relationship for the benefit of the business.”

“I have over 10 years of experience in Boeing’s airplane manufacturing and production lines and have worked in 4 different organizations as both a teammate and a manager. This doctorate coupled with my dissertation will help position me for a move into Boeing’s research group to study organizational behavior. In this role, I aim to use my research to advance Boeing’s sustainability efforts by teaching the executive coaches how to help our company leaders take action, display sustainability behavior, and build relationships that achieve sustainability within the company walls.”

Class of 2023 

Traci Johnston | Consumer Data Strategy and Insights Executive | Bank of America

Johnson is currently working on ideas for her dissertation.

“I believe my doctorate will provide me formal training and capabilities to contribute more meaningfully in my current role with the bank as well as open avenues to a second career in academia (hopefully) once I reach that point where I am ready to move on. I am hopeful I can take my industry experience and help future students and graduate students preparing for industry fields by perhaps teaching or consulting in academics while I continue my current job.”

See more of our UF DBA female alumni and students.

Want to know more about how the UF DBA can transform your career? Watch the program video to learn more.