Brent Ward, MBA, MPM, MISM, MCSD, CAPM; Ph.D. work in progress
DeVry University Orlando
Teaching Field: Business and Management
“Our hands-on, practical business programs prepare students for careers as professional managers. We have a strong focus both on excellence and on helping students succeed, even when they haven’t had success in traditional environments.”
WHERE I COME FROM
My career began in our family’s insurance brokerage. I worked alongside my father, doing sales and accounting, so I had exposure to entrepreneurship. While studying for my MBA, I worked as an intern for a manufacturing company during summers, doing financial forecasting and budgeting. When I got my degree, they hired me as a purchasing manager and production planner; my purchasing budget was about $2 million a year. I worked in this position for several years.
I have been teaching at DeVry since 2004. I originally came here to DeVry’s Keller Graduate School of Management for credentials that leveraged my work experience. I've completed Master’s Degrees in Project Management as well as Information Systems, and a graduate certificate in Accounting here as well as a graduate certificate in Education. I’m working on a Ph.D. now in business management. In addition to teaching, I was the curriculum manager when the Business Information Systems major was redesigned.
TEACHER AND COACH
I always knew that my calling was to be a teacher but for a time I resisted it because a business career seemed more attractive. When I did start teaching, I modeled myself after my high school English teacher, “Mom” Potters. She not only cared about covering course objectives, she also invested in individual students to help them develop. She ran the Outdoors club and provided us with coached experiences in leadership, both in class and outside. I try to do the same thing now for my students.
After being in the classroom for 20 years, you can’t just teach, you also have to stay current with professional skills, so I participate in various business-related service activities. For example, I co-manage a local farmer’s market and act as treasurer of the non-profit that started the market. I choose community projects in which students can work alongside me and gain real-world experiences, credentials for their resumes, and reference letters. These projects give me lots of stories and experiences I can use in my classes and discussions—as well as very positive experiences for students.
PRACTICE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
When I get involved with a community organization, I look for opportunities to staff the committees with students. These organizations are starving for good people and we have students who are really motivated to get experience in real world situations.
Last year, I acted as the Business Development Chair of a non-profit that revitalizes part of Orlando. One project was a Buy Local program, found at www.BuySemoran.org that involved many DeVry undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, one project management student led a Bike Rack project (with a $700 budget). Another acted as support specialist to a market study and a revitalization plan for this area of town that was presented to the City Commissioner. Another was project support specialist with the Business Development Committee and followed up on people’s assignments to ensure that things got done. Another took a branding project that was in trouble and turned it around. That project had $10,000 in funding that I had obtained from a bank and a local donor.
INSPIRED BY TRAIL BLAZERS
DeVry students tend to be working adults with lots of commitments. Many of them have overcome huge obstacles in their quest for success. They are often the first one in their family to attend college. They are the game-changers in their generation, the trail-blazers for others to follow. Somehow they have it in them to say, “I don’t have any role models, I may not have any support, but I am going to create a better life.”
I started college at a very large university, but found I could not learn in classes with over 100 students. I switched to a small college and did very well there because of the small class sizes and close interaction with professors. DeVry has a similar model for a quality education. Campus classes range from 6 to 20 students per class; the average is about 12. I am always accessible by phone and I hold six office hours a week. At DeVry, professors are teachers first, researchers as a distant second. Faculty evaluation focuses mostly on teaching and student outcomes.
Our hands-on, practical business programs prepare students for careers as professional managers. We have a strong focus both on excellence and on helping students succeed, even when they haven’t had success in traditional environments. This commitment is supported institutionally through a Faculty Alert system, coordinated with Academic Advisors and Student Success Coaches so that at least two people have your back if you need support. In addition, we have a strong Career Services organization that provides rich resources and maintains close industry ties.