Faculty Friday: Mark Cawman’s Leadership with Love

by Saundri Luippold

Titles and accolades cannot compare to the joy of loving someone. For professor Mark Cawman, DBA, the birth of his daughter almost five years ago transformed his life, and was worth more than any salary, position, or recognition. Becoming a father led him to leave his corporate career behind, pursuing teaching full-time in order to follow his true vocation, while giving him more time with his family.

Cawman moved around throughout his childhood, from Colorado to New Jersey, before deciding to start his undergraduate studies at Indiana Wesleyan University. Cawman’s circuitous journey included spending two years in seminary, followed by three years as a paramedic, and 26 years in various management roles in manufacturing. During this time, he returned to college to obtain a degree in management. His desire to acquire more knowledge led him to the University of Mississippi for his MBA, and George Fox University for his DBA.

When his career took off in the ’90s, Cawman’s life was blessed with a plethora of opportunities to travel while working with others. Cawman loved working on greenfield projects in the automotive industry in Mexico, and he later managed teams across Asia, Europe, and the U.S., fulfilling roles in the aerospace industry.

Through his roles as quality manager, engineering manager, director of quality and engineering, divisional corporate quality director, and vice president of an aerospace company, Cawman exhibited true leadership, as a developer of talent and an architect of systems. He coordinated groups of people to complete tasks by transparently engaging them in the goal behind each project and delegating strategically. His international experiences helped him discover his passion for studying how people work with one another and how to manage systems well. Cawman’s dissertation centered on international work transfers and how cross-cultural implications play a role in organizational outcomes. This passion led to his recent development of the “International Business Colloquium” at Azusa Pacific University, offering students opportunities to hear from international speakers and cross-culturally engage with foreign schools, broadening their understanding of international business.

Cawman’s career in academia began in 2015 at Concordia University as a part-time business faculty member. He was certain that he would one day teach full-time, but was unsure when the time would come to leave the corporate world. When his daughter Clara was born, she became the best part of his and his wife’s world, the focal point for change. Soon after, in 2020, he started teaching at APU’s School of Business and Management.

As a professor, Cawman gets to experience true vocational satisfaction, as he now does full time what he enjoyed the most when working in business: mentorship, coaching, developing talent, writing systems, and creating models while helping others.

“I set out to equip and help people, whether that came from ministry, the medical field, or management; the goal was to discover how I can speak into the overall development of people,” he said.

During his time at APU, Cawman has led groups of students on the Miami, Ireland, and L’APEU study away trips to engage in corporate visits and business projects in the real world. “Students are exposed to a unique modality that is very applied and life changing,” he said, “ In Miami, the students were able to do a project for a company. Their work was recognized by the firm and is now a published case study.” Onika Cardenas, ‘24, was one of the students on the L’APEU trip. “Dr. Cawman strategically connected us to companies to show us beyond the textbook how businesses work cross culturally,” Cardenas said. “I learned about the processes that companies choose and their reasoning behind that to help them be effective and efficient in the workplace.”

One of the aspects Cawman enjoys most about teaching at APU is being able to incorporate faith into what he teaches. “I give tools, not rules,” he said. “I don’t tell them what they can’t do, but I explain the tensions that they will experience in business as Christians, and help them to navigate that with excellence in business, clarity in conscience, and testimony in leadership.” While equipping students with tools for careers in business and management, Cawman emphasizes the difference in values and norms across the world, utilizing his experiences in international business to share how to view differences in a positive light and to drive true appreciation and inclusion across cultures. Cawman especially loves working with first generation students and cultivating critical thinkers. “My goal is to find those students who may never have had a shot and create rockstars out of them,” he said.

The betterment of people is at the core of what Cawman teaches his students. Whether through evaluating case studies, hearing international lectures, or discussions that give students the chance to voice their questions and opinions, Cawman hopes to show how vital it is to remember the community aspect of business careers. From university facilities to medical buildings, every organization requires employees who manage and coordinate teams, and cultivating students to prepare to enter business fields with a holistic approach allows them to integrate faith in every place they enter.

Cawman’s journey has been one marked by many transitions. He’s learned how God uses each experience for personal and intellectual growth.

“When you make mistakes and take huge risks, you don’t realize in the moment how God is going to use those things for the future,” he said. “What I learned through my failures and risky entrepreneurial ventures taught me more than I could imagine.”

While his career has provided him with the fulfillment and joy that comes from using his God-given skills in various environments, Cawman’s true happiness comes from loving his daughter. He smiled, observing a picture of Clara and said, “She is worth anything.” More than any job title, Cawman’s love for his daughter is the culmination of what drives him to continuously pursue Christ, work well, and set an example of what it means to lead others with love for his students.

Saundri Luippold ’25 is a public relations intern in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement. Saundri is double majoring in Honors Humanities and English with a minor in Spanish. She serves as head copy editor of APU's literary journal, The West Wind, and writes on her personal blog, New Romanticism.