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Meet the Faculty: Dr. Lily Davidov

photo of Dr. Lily Davidov. text: Meet the Faculty Dr. Lily Davidov faculty chair for accounting, small business and insurance photo of Lily Davidov with students Kayla Blackman and Devotera Hill photo of Lily Davidov as deli manager at Bashas

Meet the Faculty: Dr. Lily Davidov

Accounting Chair Brings International Flair to Rio Salado College

Growing up in Uzbekistan provided Dr. Lily Davidov with the fortitude needed to succeed in life, no matter where the journey leads.

“There is an old Russian saying that patience and hard work will conquer all,” Davidov said. “There are no shortcuts to anything in life. The only way to get where you want to be is by applying patience and hard work.”

She embraced the sentiment early in her formal education.

“After graduating high school, I finished three years in the pediatric department at Samarkand State Medical Institute,” Davidov said. “But my medical career ended due to the collapse of the USSR and my refuge into the USA.”

A new country brought fresh opportunities, and Davidov didn’t have to look far for career inspiration.

“It chose me,” Davidov said. “I come from a long heritage of entrepreneurs. The first job I got in the U.S. was a deli clerk at Bashas’ supermarket. Soon after I was promoted to lead, and then manager.”

Davidov parlayed her entrepreneurial experience into a bachelor’s degree in global business from Arizona State University. She went on to earn an MBA with a concentration in accounting from the University of Phoenix, where she also completed a doctoral degree in business administration. 

Her dissertation centered on a topic close to her heart – how having an educated workforce can lead to customer retention and acquisition in the grocery industry.

“Educated entrepreneurs earn higher profits and are more prepared for the competitive market during times of recession,” Davidov said.

After speaking with family, her career path pivoted once again. 

“My little cousin, Marianna, who is now Dr. Ilyasova, told me about her job as an adjunct,” Davidov said. “I always liked learning and learning by teaching. So, I applied for a job teaching an ‘Introduction to Business’ class and fell in love with teaching.”

Davidov is now in her fourth year as faculty chair for accounting, small business and insurance studies at Rio Salado.

“These programs give students skills for life,” Davidov said. “The entrepreneurship program offers classes that can help students generate ideas to build and grow their own business. Our degree and certificate in accounting prepare students to be their own accountants or get an entry-level job.”

“The Risk Management and Insurance and Enrolled Agent programs prepare students to sit for industry credentials and exams,” she said. 

Since joining Rio Salado, Davidov has worked tirelessly to support her students through many initiatives, such as creating new certificate programs, partnering with local businesses, organizing summer camps and promoting scholarship opportunities.

“I love the diversity of our students and working with students from different generations, and cultural and educational backgrounds,” Davidov said. “Teaching at Rio is about learning each student individually and finding out what brought them to the college and why.”

While the pandemic has transformed the world over the past two years, Davidov has not let it slow her down.

  • In March 2021, she served as faculty mentor for the Rio Salado students who entered the Maricopa Community Colleges’ Big Pitch competition for aspiring entrepreneurs.

  • In April she received the Arizona Regional Paragon Award for new advisors of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of community college students.

  • In October, Davidov and two fellow Rio staff who lead the college’s Innovation Think Tank, presented at the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) 2021 conference.

Davidov also enjoys the camaraderie she shares with fellow Rio Salado faculty members. She has found a kindred spirit with Mitra Mehraban, co-chair of Counseling and Personal Development.

“I met Mitra just a few months after arriving in the U.S.,” Davidov said. “I registered for an ESL class at Phoenix College and Mitra was an advisor. I will never forget the moment I met her. She was so inspiring - she also looked and spoke like me.”

Fast-forward 20 years and the two educators found themselves face-to-face.

“Twenty years later, I met Mitra again at my first faculty meeting at Rio,” Davidov said. “Nothing changed! She is still inspiring, kind, likeminded, and now is a dear friend.”

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Pictured Above: Dr. Lily Davidov with student Kayla Blackman (left) and student Devotera Hill (right). Dr. Lily Davidov as the deli manager at Bashas'.

National Entrepreneurship Week (NatlEshipWeek) is February 12-19, 2022!

Here are some entrepreneurial opportunities our Rio students, faculty, and staff are engaging in:

Innovation Think Tank

The Big Pitch - Rio Salado students are preparing to go to the Big Pitch to win funds to help support their businesses! Students are going to attend a three day bootcamp to refine their skills and get them ready to PITCH! Please share this link with a student entrepreneur (or team) with a business idea.

NACCE/EEVF and 2nd cohort of Rio Salado Scholarship Recipients are:

  • Tara Lopez (major - AAS Organizational Management, Business Name: Spoiled Dog Kare)
  • Fannie Hershberger (Major CCL in Enrolled Agent, Business Name: Citrine Accounting & Taxes, LLC)
  • Both students will receive one year of mentorship from Maricopa SBDC advisor and their Rio Salado faculty coaching, Dr. Lily Davidov, to invest $2,500 to further develop their business, increase revenue.

Wells Fargo awarded the Foundation with a $1M grant to Advance Entrepreneurship, focused on uplifting economically disadvantaged and diverse-owned small businesses, as well as students of color pursuing business/entrepreneurial studies.

  • Rio Salado College Entrepreneurship Department will mirror the NACCE/EVVF process to achieve Wells Fargo’s mission to help student-entrepreneurs to grow their start-up businesses. All majors are welcome.

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