Faces of Discovery

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    Samantha Cross


If Samantha Cross had pursued her original career aspirations, she would be creating croissants, quiches, and other delectable delights in a beachside bistro.

“My grand plan when I came to the U.S. (from the West Indian Island of Barbados) was to do my MBA at DePaul then go to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to train to be a pastry chef. Then I was going to open a little café – probably in the Caribbean – and serve tea and pastries and lovely things like that. I’ve always loved baking and creating things,” Samantha recalls with an easy, affable smile.

Instead, the associate professor of Marketing in the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business, channels her professional creativity into transformative research that focuses on consumer diversity within multi-cultural marketplaces and employs innovative multi-method approaches.

Far too often, Samantha says, consumer researchers treat the exception – middle and upper middle-class white males in the western world – as the rule, rather than the exception.

“We know the vast majority of consumers globally don’t fall within that narrow sphere of focus. There’s a lot that goes into this notion of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. When I think about my work, and why it matters, it matters because there are a lot of different and under-represented consumers who deserve to have their voices heard. These groups deserve to have the marketplace understand what their needs look like and how these needs can be filled,” she explains.

While the focus of Samantha’s work is creating new opportunities and forging new frontiers for under-represented communities, so too are the multi-faceted research methodologies she employs.

Beyond the focus of her research, the multifaceted methodologies she employs are helping deliver insights into under-represented communities that are creating new opportunities and forging new frontiers in domestic and global marketplaces.

“I’ve always really appreciated different points of view and different perspectives so that’s why I try to use a lot of mixed and multi-method sorts of approaches,” she explains. “We have all these amazing technologies and different ways of seeing the world around us, yet sometimes we’re very narrow in our approaches to research.”

Aside from her research, one of Samantha’s proudest professional accomplishments is simply serving as an Iowa State faculty member.

“Many of my students have never met someone like me – female, immigrant, different accent, under-represented,” she says. “So, I’m proud every time I step in front of a classroom because it’s an opportunity to break stereotypes and change perceptions for not only people who might identify with me, but also for those who don’t.”