Question & Answer with New Marketing Professor Mark Skeba

The professor in the college of business and technology shares about his life journey and details how he found a path to classrooms at North Central University.

Profile photo of assistant marketing professor Mark Skeba
Mark Skeba poses for a moment between classes outside his office in Liechty Hall. Skeba became an assistant marketing professor at North Central University in the fall of 2019.

Assistant marketing professor Mark Skeba became a new addition to the college of business and technology this year. Skeba’s academic journey mostly resided in his home state of Illinois. Skeba went to Wheaton Warrenville South High School west of Chicago for three years until he moved to Ohio for one semester of his senior year. He quickly moved back to Wheaton, Illinois, to finish and graduate from his old school. 

In high school, Skeba met a girl named Stephanie. They went on one date and decided to be friends. After graduating, Skeba went to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Math and Economics. Skeba continued his education journey by going to get his Master in Business Administration in Marketing and Strategic Management at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, in Evanston, Illinois.

Stephanie went to Northwestern University as well, and this was the start to them officially dating. Mark and Stephanie now reside in Golden Valley. They have been married nine years and live with their dog Hoda and their two cats: Chumly and Rockey.

Why did you choose to teach at North Central and what is your teaching style?

“Students here are committed to following and submitting to Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit in their life. The college of business and technology has expectations and vision for a bible college. I love that challenge of putting students at the top companies in the [Twin] Cities, and we expect to put kids into the business world with elite organizations. …
“You know the phrase we use, ‘High expectations equal high world-class results?’ In my class we paraphrase it for my teaching: ‘If it is good enough for Harvard, it is good enough for my class.’”

What is a favorite memory you have from college?

“The one secret skill I have … I won the pie eating contest all four years in dominating fashion, and the last year I was winning so bad that I started eating my competitor’s pie as a victory lap. Then in grad school, I won a chicken-wing-eating contest. I will throw the gauntlet down, if NCU ever has one, and I will embarrass any student, anywhere, at anytime. I will win so bad that the student may need special prayer; their spirit will be crushed. … That sounds so terrible, I was trying to think of something intense to say, and I came up with this.”

Who is your hero?

“I would say my father. He came to know Jesus through AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] before he had us and before he met my mom. So I like that I can see why his faith is real to him, because it came out of an area that wasn’t. It is cool I don’t have to know the man he was, I just get to know the dad that he is [now]. He has been a model of work ethic, a model of how to value people, a model of what a husband looks like. I lucked out immensely. I had a dad that set a template of what life could be.”

Where is the best place you have ever traveled?

“I think to me the coolest place we got to go was Paris when my dad worked over there a bit. We got to stay with him for a week, he and my mom lived in the city so we didn’t just go there as tourists we got to go and feel like semi-locals. It was cool because we felt like we got to experience the city in a way that was fun, a way that authentic.”

What is your favorite thing about Minneapolis?

“That’s a good question … all my friends are here. I’ve been up here long enough since college. … My wife coaches Crossfit and that is where we have made most of our friends. I also have friends here from college. This is where we have the best community. I like the city, but this is where all my friends are; this is where I like to be.”

What city do you live in now?

“I live in Golden Valley right by downtown Golden Valley. A little house on a busy street.”

What is one hobby you really enjoy outside of teaching and campus life?

“[My] biggest hobby outside of teaching is Crossfit. It is my grown up recess. On days where I have to be grown up and professional on campus, I revert to being a kid in those classes. I am the worst behaved student in the class: I am disruptive, I say inappropriate things in class, I make fun of people and I goof off all the time. … It is my way to not be in charge all the time.”

Who is your favorite music artist right now?

“My favorite [artist] of all time is the Foo Fighters. I love grunge. I like Judah and the Lion. I have worked with them on some stuff and my wife lived next door to one of them. I was working on an ad for Nature Valley granola bars, and I was listening to one of their songs on Spotify. … I said, ‘That song is way better than what I have been trying to write.” So they let me use their song ‘Kickin’ da Leaves‘ as the advertising music. We used them before they blew up.'”

What is the area of research for your highest degree?

“It was in marketing primarily, and strategy, but I did not write a thesis … most of my research and learning was hands-on; we did case studies. I did a couple of different small business projects, but I would say, maybe in a different way than most professors here, a majority of my experience has been in a company dealing with the day-to-day challenges of running a business and doing different marketing things.”

How did you become interested in teaching this subject?

“The guy at a ministry that mentored me for a long time said, ‘You should look at trying going to a Christian university where you could bring your faith into the classroom.’ I was googling and I found a posting … and I had never heard of North Central. I clicked it and said, ‘Is this North Central College in Naperville, Illinois?’ And I was like, ‘That is the U.S. Bank Stadium; Where is this school?’ And I asked a friend of mine who is in ministry and he said, ‘Those kids are legit, and they are on fire for Jesus.’ This mission of what they were trying to do here was a mission I wanted to be apart of.”

This interview was edited for space and clarity.