EPIC Spotlight: John Kent

It was 17 years in the making, but John Kent finally got his dream job of working at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

There was so much to like about coming here, especially with family and scenic Ozark farm property nearby. As a Russellville native who grew up in Arkadelphia, Kent’s Arkansas roots run deep.

Kent is quick to show his elation with returning to the Natural State, which not only brings him back home but also involves working at Walton. He began his duties in August 2014 as clinical assistant professor and assistant department chair for the supply chain management department.

He recalls that when he was working on his Ph.D., he had a phone conversation with John Ozment, Walton College supply chain management professor. He told Ozment he hoped he would be interviewing for a faculty position at the University of Arkansas. However, when no positions became available, Kent began his professorship at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in Springfield with the mission of starting a logistics and supply chain program there.

Satisfied, he settled in Springfield and his family grew. But his longing for working at Walton never left.

Finally, the time was right. A position opened. He applied and was invited to meet the department’s faculty. “I said, ‘John, it’s been 17 years since I’ve been waiting for this,” Kent told Ozment.

Kent’s love for transportation stems from childhood. “In the back seat of the car, I was always intrigued by tractor-trailer trucks,” he says.

“You make better decisions when you have diversity at the table.”

After high school, he dabbled with being a diesel mechanic but eventually attended college at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in management and computer science. His first job out of college was working in Dallas for the shipping and freight company Sea-Land Service, which enabled him to visit ports globally. While there, Kent earned his M.B.A. in international management and forged ahead with a Ph.D. in logistics and transportation at the University of Tennessee.

Much of Kent’s research involves studying the best personality and leadership traits of successful fleet managers. His work has been published in Journal of Business Logistics, Transportation Journal and International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, among others.

Kent teaches several undergraduate and graduate supply chain classes, including Logistics Provider and Carrier Management, Supply Chain Strategy, Retail Supply Chain Analysis and a special topics course.

He is impressed with the diverse leadership at the Walton College as well as the faculty and students. “You make better decisions when you have diversity at the table,” he says.

Away from work, he can be found tending to his flock of sheep he raises and sells at his Mount Judea farm in Newton County. He and his wife, Tina, have a daughter and a son.

And when he’s not there, he’s acclimating to being a faculty member at the Walton College.

“I love it,” he says. “It’s great. It’s all I expected it to be.”