Full Circle Journey Brings Her Back to Whitman to Help Future Leaders Navigate Business School

Christie Novak

Assistant Teaching Professor

  • Faculty

As an accountant by trade, I have seen how one area of business can blend into another very easily using the principles of accounting, and I hope to share that with my students.

Christie Novak ’10, ’11 M.S., feels like she’s come full circle as she begins her second semester as a full-time faculty member at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. She’s not new to Whitman, however, having not only received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting from the School but also worked as an adjunct instructor from 2014 to 2022. Now, Novak is a full-time assistant teaching professor and a Goodman IMPRESS house mentor. She is excited to be teaching classes in business, international business and accounting, as well as mentoring first-year Leadership Scholars and transfer students as they adjust to business school life. 

Novak brings a wealth of experience to the Whitman School. After earning her degrees in accounting from Whitman, she went to work at Dermody, Burke & Brown from 2011-2015, where she was an audit senior associate. She became a CPA in 2013. Novak went on to earn her doctor in business administration in accounting from the University of Florida and became an assistant professor of accounting at Le Moyne College, also in Syracuse, New York, and later director of accounting programs there until 2022. All the while, she has also been chief financial officer of the Chocolate Pizza Company, a family business run by her husband, Ryan Novak, ’11, which creates gourmet chocolate specialties.

Her position at the Whitman School is unique in that she reports directly to Interim Dean Alexander McKelvie. Her focus is working with the Whitman Leadership Scholars -- those specifically selected upon admission for their high achievement, enthusiasm about learning and interest in leadership -- as well as transfer students, with the intention of keeping them on track as they navigate the demands of business school for the first time. 

To this end, she began her new role at Whitman in the fall of 2022 teaching SOM 122: Introduction to Business, which is only taught by IMPRESS house mentors. The course gives students a broad view of the field that ranges from ethics, corporate social responsibility, economics, finance and marketing, while also exposing students to many possible career paths.

“Typically, class starts with five or 10 minutes devoted to current events related to business and topics in the news that are impacting how decisions are made in business - like inflation, the housing market, lending, etc. We explore a different concept every week, and there’s something for everyone,” Novak explains. “For example, students often come to Whitman certain that they really like marketing, but then they learn more about supply chain or business analytics and decide to add that to their coursework. If they never hear about all the possibilities, then how would they know their options?”

She is enjoying being a house mentor with the IMPRESS program, where she encourages students to attend events and get involved in campus, creates opportunities for alumni mentoring and networking, and focuses on the many “soft skills” outside of the classroom needed to become a well-rounded professional. First and foremost, she is happy to be that ‘go-to’ person that students are comfortable approaching as they navigate the experience of being a Whitman student for the first time, while also preparing for their futures.

This spring, she is also teaching SOM 354: Managing in a Global Setting and is excited to bring real world examples of business into the classroom, along with her own experiences.

She will certainly apply her knowledge of accounting, as well. “Accounting is at the foundation, and, if you don’t understand numbers, it can make or break a situation in the business world,” Novak says. “As an accountant by trade, I have seen how one area of business can blend into another very easily using the principles of accounting, and I hope to share that with my students.”

Novak is glad to be back at her alma mater, teaching vital topics and helping students find their own path from the Whitman classrooms to successful business careers.

“I love the spirit of the Syracuse University and Whitman community,” she says. “Everyone here is so invested in our students as they transition into being adults and future business professionals. I’m excited to be a part of that.”

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