business news in context, analysis with attitude

Business Week has a nice profile of Richard George, professor of food marketing at the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, who has been named as a “favorite professor” by his students, thus earning the magazine’s attention.

An excerpt:

“Since George understands that students learn in different ways, he offers different kinds of assignments. For ‘show-and-tell,’ students must bring in relevant news articles and present them to the class. There are several in-class assignments and case-study exams. For some of the courses he teaches, he requires students to keep a journal. Standout assignments include observing people in stores and cafés to learn about customer service, and analyzing a company for senior seminar—both provide useful material that students can use during job interviews, says George.

“A professor who is willing to share his own story scores with students. ‘Dr. George provides an interactive and thought-provoking classroom experience. He relates his personal industry knowledge and work experience to the class work,’ wrote one student respondent to the survey. ‘His practices are not traditional, yet challenging and cause students to think critically about the subject matter’.”

And another:

“Grades are not a top priority for George. He is more interested, he says, in getting students to learn the processes for making decisions and retaining lessons that will help them well into the future.

“Still, he's not what you would call an easy teacher. George says students would probably characterize him as ‘demanding’ and ‘fair but firm.’ In fact, to prepare students for real-world deadlines, George refuses to accept late papers—even just 12 seconds late, he says. George adds that his job is to help young people grow and mature and make it in the workforce.”
KC's View:
Rich George has always been one of the good guys in this industry, and I’ve always found him to be a wonderful resource on those numerous occasions when we’ve had a chance to chat about the industry. And while I’ve never had him in class, I get the “favorite teacher” acknowledgement, because he has that singular bearing that the really great teachers have.

I’ve always wondered how much better the industry’s employees would be if their bosses were encouraged to serve as mentors, coaches and teachers. It would mean that a lot of managers would have to be trained in how to handle those roles, but I think that companies where this approach were taken might see a real improvement at all ends of the workforce.