"The person you become, and the knowledge and experience you gain, has the potential to help you advance in your career. The MBA signals that you have mastered this body of knowledge and are conscientious, intelligent and motivated."
Ph.D. – The University of Memphis, 2013
In which online degree program do you teach?
What's the value of an MBA for today's professionals?
MBAs offer value in two areas: personal development and professional advancement. Personally, you learn how to think while acquiring a vast amount of useful knowledge—knowledge that is typically generated by thousands of scholars who study what does and doesn't work in the business world (e.g., when you read a news story that says, "Studies find that X predicts Y"—that study was authored by the same professors who teach your courses and offer their consulting services to businesses). As many classes also require group projects, you also learn how to work as part of a cohesive team trying to accomplish a shared goal. The person you become, and the knowledge and experience you gain, has the potential to help you advance in your career.
The MBA signals that you have mastered this body of knowledge and are conscientious, intelligent and motivated. Some jobs require an MBA to apply, and you may find that having an MBA will help separate you from the herd of applicants when applying to jobs that don't require an MBA. In short, from a professional standpoint, an MBA may help you get a better job and perform better once you've got it.
What's the best advice you could give your students?
The best way to get people to trust you is to be trustworthy—and competent. Try to be both and, over the long haul, you'll do well.
What qualities make someone particularly successful in business or management?
I'm going to skip the obvious answers, such as intelligence, working hard, resilience, etc. You already know that. I'm going to suggest that enhancing emotional intelligence is something that can benefit just about everyone. Being able to work well with people—coworkers in your own company, peers in partner companies, customers, regulators, folks in your part of the country or another part of the country or even another part of the world—is an underrated skill.
How do you see online learning affecting the future of education?
I think it's the future of education. The business world has learned that the more it caters to its customers, enhancing the quality of its products and services while also making their delivery more convenient, the happier customers are. We exist to make your life better, and online learning can help in this regard by making higher education easier to access.
I have taught students who were on active duty in war zones. I have taught students who already work two jobs while trying to raise a family. I teach students who can't afford to move to a new city. They deserve the opportunity to earn a degree, too. And for those who don't walk in those shoes, perhaps online learning is more convenient. I think that we should remove as many barriers to the ability of people to earn a degree as possible. Just as Netflix and Spotify have changed the way people consume media—you could never go back to the old way—we can keep up with the times and offer rigorous degrees of higher learning in a format that's better for many people.
Why did you start teaching?
I love to acquire, digest and reformulate information in a manner that's both interesting and easy to understand. I don't know why I enjoy doing this so much, but I do. I hope my students enjoy it, too.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
“Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker
Tell us something interesting about yourself that your students might not know about you.
Well, I'll tell you something that's not true about myself. I'm not related to the Clampits from the “The Beverly Hillbillies” (though I wish I was). Students sometimes like to find out that I went to high school in Hawaii (we beat Barack Obama's team in football—won the state championship when I was there). My grandmother was a childhood friend of Bear Bryant, and my great aunt was his English teacher. If you love college football, that's kind of interesting.
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