Frank Marshall, associate dean and Professor of Management at Point Loma Nazarene University’s (PLNU) Fermanian School of Business, exudes a blend of wisdom, pragmatism and a genuine appreciation for the power of networks and working with people.

Born and raised in Western Massachusetts in a Catholic household, Marshall grew up with his parents and his two older sisters. As a child, he played sports and attended both public and preparatory schools. In high school, he drifted away from his faith, coming back to it later through his marriage to his wife who grew up in a strong Christian family. 

Marshall first entered into the world of finance as a high school freshman, when he took a bookkeeping class. He found the subject to be quite easy at first. 

“I thought, ‘Do people actually get paid for this’?,” he said. “My instructor at the time said ‘It’s not as easy as you think, and yes, people get paid for this.’ From that point on I made my entire senior year about that.”

Marshall’s interest in finance led him to decide early on that he wanted to be a controller for a company. A controller trains, hires and supervises accounting teams and defines the department’s operational strategies and priorities. 

Marshall enrolled at Bentley College in Massachusetts, later moving to California for his accounting degree at California State University in Long Beach.

A few years after graduating college, Marshall fulfilled his dream of becoming a controller and went on to work as one for Hughes Aircraft Company in Tijuana, Mexico, an experience that was very formative for him both professionally and personally. 

In addition to learning a new language, Marshall had to learn how to communicate cross-culturally and with employees with different socio-economic and educational backgrounds.

His tenure in Mexico unveiled a broader world, stripping away prejudices, and kindling an appreciation for diverse cultures. Marshall candidly explained that this was a significant shift from the area where he grew up, which was less tolerant of people from other cultures. “I learned quite a bit about me being there, but I also learned about the people I worked with,” he said. “ My time in Mexico really helped me understand people and really learn.”

Over the next few years, Marshall fulfilled several managerial and executive roles such as Vice President and COO in various corporations. His time at Sciteq Electronics, Inc. underpinned lessons in servant leadership and the art of communication.

Frank Marshall stands in his PLNU classroom after teaching a class.

He learned some pivotal lessons from one of the founders of the company, not just about accounting and finance but also about how to manage and communicate with people.

“I learned about servant leadership and being attentive,” he said. “One of his principles was, if you ask somebody to do something for you, say please. And then when they give it to you, say thank you. Even if it’s wrong, say thank you and then come back and figure out what you did not ask correctly.”

His years at Sciteq once again solidified in Marshall the importance of people skills. He took those lessons to subsequent job positions.

“Things I took from there, I took to other places I went to,” he said. “For me, it all comes back to the people and treating them fairly, treating them well, and then getting them to the stated objectives that we could accomplish.”

Beyond accolades and corporate roles, Marshall’s academic journey started with an executive leadership program at the University of San Diego (USD), led by best-selling author and business consultant Ken Blanchard. Following this program, Marshall earned his master’s degree from USD. 

Soon after completing his master’s degree, Marshall began to feel a sense of restlessness regarding his career. 

“I got tired of trying to make payroll and work with sales and push vendors out,” he said. “I started thinking about working full-time as a professor.”

His journey towards academia culminated in a Doctorate in Business Administration from George Fox University, an academic feat achieved while juggling full-time work and adjunct teaching roles. 

For Marshall, success isn’t a solitary pursuit; it’s a collaborative journey that thrives on a robust network. He encourages students to become advocates for themselves, to use their connections, and to not give up when confronted with obstacles.

The experience of getting his doctorate came with certain challenges due to the heavy focus on academics. 

“It was way more academic than anything I’d done,” Marshall said. “But it was also something that I knew that I had to do in order to get to where I wanted to go, so it was a matter of just powering through.”

Marshall’s journey to Point Loma Nazarene University began with him working as an adjunct professor for a few years in the school’s MBA program. 

Years later, he was invited to apply to the position in which he now serves — Associate Dean overseeing the adult undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration program. Since then, the program has expanded to several more community colleges in San Diego.

“We’ve grown the program from one community to five community colleges and are working hard to keep it viable and alive,” he said. 

Yet, Marshall’s realm isn’t confined to academia; it extends to aiding and propelling student success. His teaching philosophy emphasizes learning by doing, pushing students to surpass limits, encouraging tenacity, and fostering a robust network.

“My philosophy of teaching is really getting the students out doing a lot of experiential learning,” Marshall said. 

Marshall and PLNU students stand in front of one of their micro-pantries they helped establish in San Diego.
Marshall (far left) and PLNU students stand in front of one of the micro-pantries they helped establish in San Diego.

Marshall has taught several courses including ones in entrepreneurship, innovation, and human resources. 

His engagement in the Enactus Club, where social entrepreneurship intersects with real-world impact, exemplifies Marshall’s commitment to societal change. Marshall helped found the club six years ago. Since then, the club has put together micro-pantries for food banks and placed them in several locations around San Diego where people could get access to food 24 hours a day instead of having to depend on food pantries schedules. 

The club has also worked with immigrant entrepreneurs who did not have access to the internet. 

“We helped a few of them get on Shopify, create their own website, and sell their wares outside of the local San Diego community that they were trying to physically sell from,” he said. 

Initiatives like these underscore Marshall’s belief in empowering communities and shaping futures.

At Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian School of Business, Marshall’s vision crystallizes around democratizing education. Marshall see’s the accelerated undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration program as a beacon for students daunted by the high cost of private universities. The program fosters inclusivity and helps students consider possibilities they otherwise would not have been able to.

“Really for us, we’re really serving a need for students who think that Point Loma is out of reach for them,” he said. “For them, it’s like, ‘hey, you can go to your community college, get your associates, stay there and get your bachelor’s from PLNU and it’s the exact same classes, the exact same teachers that would be on the main campus. You don’t get the beautiful view, you don’t get the ocean. However, you get a quality education and being in a cohort allows them to really bond together.”

Learn more about PLNU’s Bachelor of Business Administration program from Frank Marshall

For Marshall, success isn’t a solitary pursuit; it’s a collaborative journey that thrives on a robust network. He encourages students to become advocates for themselves, to use their connections, and to not give up when confronted with obstacles.

“Networking is important,” Marshall said. “It’s more important sometimes than what I know is who I know and who knows me. We don’t know who knows somebody, and so we have to be able to build our network as wide as we can so we can help people. That’s what I would like students to learn is to really push and be advocates for themselves. When the world says no, figure out how to get the yes.”

In the world of academia and business, Marshall stands out as a professional who merges together the worlds of theory and practice, advocating for equity in education, and instilling a profound belief in people and in their ability to transform the world. 

His journey shows that beyond financial acumen and academic prowess, one can leverage one’s networks and empower others, effect change and shape a world where potential is boundless and opportunities are available for all. 

Guimel Sibingo is a freelance writer based in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated from PLNU in 2014 with degrees in communication and philosophy/theology. She has a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Missouri.