Professor of Business
Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
M.B.A., McMaster University, Canada
B.S., McMaster University, Canada
Why do I teach? Because it’s exciting and rejuvenating. Why business? Because business is everywhere. In some way, shape or form, business touches every individual and every aspect of society. And it can be fun.
When asked, How do you teach? UMF Professor of Business Frank Engert said three principles guide his teaching: learning by doing, a holistic business mindset, and nurturing innovation.
Learning By Doing
Frank Engert says he expects his students to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty by tackling issues facing the business community. “My students have the opportunity to work with the local business community and business leaders in order to understand real world issues related to owning and running a business.”
They examine practical issues like managing employees, providing excellent customer service, understanding competitors, managing innovation, maintaining and growing market share in a fast paced global environment, etc. This provides them with an insider’s perspective of the business world.
For students interested in entrepreneurship, it also provides them with a reality-check to see if starting a business is something they really want to do.
Holistic Business Mindset
Engert says a successful business is a mashup. It combines ideas, numerous and diverse skills and a complex setting that includes social, economic and political forces.
“No matter what particular skills or concepts a particular course focuses on, it’s useful to maintain a holistic perspective; students need to understand how the particular skills or concepts fit within the organization’s broader operations and its environment,” says Engert.
“This requires that everything has to connect – the core aspects of actually running a business, the business environment and the specific business ideas and skills I’m teaching,” he said.
Engert believes innovation is a major challenge for America. A recent National Academies of Sciences report stated, “A nation that does not embrace innovation will soon be left behind in the 21st century economy.” The report also notes that America’s competitive position in the world has eroded and it continues to face ever greater challenges.
Many of these challenges must be met by American businesses – by fostering, developing and managing innovation.
“Consequently, stimulating and nurturing creativity, developing an innovation mindset and an organizational innovation culture are also significant aspects of my teaching,” says Engert.
Recent Examples of His Student’s Activities:
Interviewing Entrepreneurs and Business Managers: This enables UMF students to become familiar with the process entrepreneurs go through to start and grow their businesses and to discover the common experiences many business owners and managers share.
Developing Business Profiles: Students develop a comprehensive profile of a specific business. This process requires that students engage in actual field research on the business and industry (interviewing managers and employees, analyzing locations, analyzing marketing materials, evaluating customer service, etc.) in order to apply course concepts to specific business issues.
Service-Learning: Students can spend several hours per week working with a local organization on projects or other activities designed to enable them to further develop their business skills.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance: After being certified by the IRS, UMF students provide free tax return preparation services to low-income families and senior citizens. The program, which serves several hundred families and individuals each year, is a collaboration including UMF, the IRS, and several local nonprofits.
Business + Recreation = ORBA
UMF’s Outdoor Recreation Business Administration program (ORBA) allows students to combine a rigorous business education with the recreation activities they love. The University’s location in Maine’s western mountains, its high quality academic offerings, and its laid-back environment are ideally suited to ORBA.
ORBA students develop the skills necessary to cope with the challenges of the outdoor recreation/tourism sector, but also with most business environments. Engert was involved in the development of the ORBA program and teaches a number of courses in the program.