It was the generosity and interest from certain professors along Aaron Joyal’s academic journey that he credits for guiding him on a path to Daemen, where he’s an assistant professor of business administration.
The impact of mentorship in his own life inspires Joyal to personally connect with students and advise them while at the college—and after they graduate.
“The theme of my story is that people invested time in me above what their job description was,” said Joyal. “And that’s made all the difference.”
Attracted to Daemen for its small size, Joyal dedicates a level of attention to students that is logistically impossible at larger institutions of higher learning. It’s the result of a determination to provide the opposite of his initial experience as an undergraduate, when Joyal recalls having few, if any, personal interactions with advisors or professors.
In time, the one-time engineering major found an eventual home in the business program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
Hired after graduation to perform accounting tasks for a company staging large-scale in-person motorcycle shows around the country, Joyal found himself instead running marketing efforts. In an era of popular reality shows, such as “Orange County Choppers,” the industry was in a relative boom cycle.
“I realized I liked what I was doing and have an effortless passion and interest in marketing,” said Joyal, who began attending evening MBA classes during this period.
“In marketing, you get to be creative in finding the right avenues to influence thinking,” said Joyal. “’Creative accountants wind up in prison,’ as the old joke goes.”
A native of Tampa and raised in Vermont, Joyal earned a PhD from the University of Memphis. Even with family in Montreal, Joyal had little familiarity with Buffalo before coming to Daemen.
As a new professor on campus, “I fully expected someone to come to my office and tell me I’m having too much fun and it’s time for you to go back to the real world,” said Joyal.
“I continue to get to do what I love, interacting with students who have a real passion for marketing. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself, because I consider myself very lucky that I get to do this for a living,” he added.
As a part of the Daemen Marketing Collaboratory, Joyal’s students have had the opportunity to partner with businesses and organizations to consult on marketing strategies and plans, giving them real-life experience before graduation. In his classes, his curriculum and assignments try to simulate the pressures and pace of the workplace.
When he’s off campus, Joyal has taken up curling in the last few years.
“Having something to do on those cold winter evenings in Western New York, to spend time with friends and get a little exercise and some fresh air in your lungs,” he said, “it’s been fun to discover that I have a real passion for sliding rocks on ice.”