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Shawn Norman: Relationships, Authenticity, and Overcoming Obstacles

We’re excited to kick off this new podcast with our guest Shawn Norman, senior vice president for operations and finance, at Iowa State University. He shares insights from his career journey about the importance of relationships, collaboration, and mentorship.

Building strong relationships and collaborating with others has been critical to Shawn’s career success. He moved from accounting to finance and found relationship building and collaboration to be highly rewarding. Great mentors helped him improve skills like delegating and motivating teams. Shawn says being open, honest, and willing to listen enables building trust and connections.

Shawn faced roadblocks like being laid off and passed over for promotions. He stresses learning from mistakes, soliciting candid feedback, and persisting. Shawn returned to school to earn his MBA which helped him achieve new career goals.

Shawn emphasizes being true to yourself. He believes in bringing his genuine personality to work– being approachable and having fun while still working hard. Shawn advises others to be honest with themselves first so they can be honest with others. Overall, he shares great career insights on relationships, learning, and authenticity.

This was a fascinating and insightful career conversation. Be sure to tune in to the full podcast episode!


Shawn Norman began serving as senior vice president for operations and finance on Jan. 1, overseeing five varied units including budget, facilities planning, finance services, payroll and benefits, and business services. Norman comes to Iowa State from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he had been associate vice president for planning, budget, and analysis since 2018 overseeing budgets, enrollment data, decision support, and space coordination. Before that, he served in several capacities at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston from 2003-18 including director of finance, and holds a bachelor’s in accounting from Wiley College and a MBA from Boise State University.


Insights and advice for business professionals new to higher education.

On Career Conversations, NACUBO’s Christine Simone sits down with higher education professionals to discuss their personal experiences, including successes and challenges of all kinds. They’ll offer career advice and insights as well as nuggets of wisdom for business professionals new to higher education.

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