A Quick Study of Successful Business Models
Making Widgets Relevant
Professor Abram Walton | FIT
Abram Walton’s path to becoming a professor of business at the Florida Institute of Technology Nathan M. Bisk College of Business was anything but traditional. Born in Washington, he graduated at 21 with a dual degree in fire fighting and computer science. Later, as a manager at a Walmart, he spotted an error with the company’s RFID stocking software — and saved his employer millions of dollars.
He declined a move to Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters, instead attending Purdue University to pursue his master’s. Three years later, he earned a doctorate in technology, leadership and innovation, earning Purdue’s top Graduate Student Excellence award in 2009.
At Florida Tech, he heads the school’s Center for Lifecycle and Innovation Management. He’s authored more than 100 publications and conference proceedings, and his textbooks on leadership have sold more than 15,000 copies. At 38, he was named to Space Coast Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list.
Every summer, a management consulting training class he runs solicits companies to give him their five worst problems for his students to help solve. Once the course is over, Walton expects his students will apply in the real world what they’ve learned in the classroom. A full professor now at 39, Walton estimates he has taught — and influenced — some 16,000 students.
“It’s not about a professor spouting stuff they hope they’ll remember for an exam,” he says. “I found a niche between speaking about widgets and making it relevant.”
‘We Are Aviation'
Professor John Longshore | Embry-Riddle
John Longshore is an aviator who logged more than 4,000 hours of flight time during his 22-year career in the Marine Corps. He flew in Vietnam, was involved in aircraft development and after retiring from the Marines, he oversaw the introduction of the F/A-18A and F-117 in Kuwait.
Twice a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, including four stints in Kuwait, he developed logistical readiness plans still in use today. As a director and later vice president with Northrop Grumman, he helped manage systems and facilities in Nashville and Dallas and oversaw a venture involving Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft planning, building and managing a regional flight facility in the United Arab Emirates.
For his next career move, Longshore decided to take his knowledge to the classroom. As an associate professor of management in the College of Business at his alma mater, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, he teaches courses in systems engineering management, project management, production and operations management and quantitative methods in business.
Although professors there do “leading edge” research in business management, the MBA at Embry-Riddle is “very general in nature,” says Longshore, 69, who holds an executive MBA from the Wharton School and Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University. “All are general enough to take those basic skills needed to manage a company.”
To Longshore, his love of teaching is enhanced by the smell of jet exhaust or the sound of aircraft revving up their engines outside his classroom. “That makes this school unique,” he says. “We all share that passion. It’s not just aviation, but we are aviation.”
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