A long-time instructor in our Business Management Certificate program, Richard Simon comes from an eclectic professional background that includes retail management, real estate investment and management, and operating his own sales agency. Recently, he shared with us his thoughts on the value of learning about business management and the ways he brings his own experience into the classroom.
Why do you think students choose the Business Management program at SFU?
For each student, the objective is individual, but the certificate is a nice complement to the real-world experience they get in their jobs. It gives them a leg up, something to put on their CV. It’s a valuable tool and a valuable process that engages them in learning in a way they’re not engaged in at their job. They want an academic experience, but with mature people with considerable life experience. They also want interaction with instructors who have real industry experience—it’s extremely valuable to them. And, of course, SFU is a powerful brand in the world of academia, but very accessible.
Why is it important to study business management?
Learning about business management here gives you a tremendous, broad introduction to the scope, depth and breadth of managing and/or running a business. So, we look at concepts that can be applied to small- and medium-size businesses, as well as large corporate enterprises and entities and multinationals. That broad stroke gives students a real context to what they’re doing in their own professional world. Each student comes in with a unique background and experience in industry, and this gives them a framework—the bigger picture of business—to get them thinking beyond their own world.
What career paths can this program lead to?
This is not a specific skill-driven program, so I think it really raises the bar for students intellectually. It forces them to think, reflect and contemplate business in a way that they have not been doing before coming to the program. They can take that learning back to their workplace, or use the certificate to move to a different position. It may not give them a specific entry point into a particular profession, but if you want to be in management, this will be an excellent tool for you to get into a more responsible position.
How do you connect your professional background to your teaching?
The way I typically start my courses is with an introduction of myself and, of course, the students. It’s very important, because we become a learning community. I love to know my students’ background, who they are, where they come from. I try to work into my teaching as much as I can about my real-world experience. I give students a lot of opportunity to ask me anything they want to know about business, and I try to enlighten them and answer their questions as it relates to their particular industry or profession.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at SFU Continuing Studies?
What I truly enjoy is the maturity that my students bring to the classroom, which is so refreshing. They really want to learn, and it’s wonderful. We get into some great discussions. Students come in with rich life experience that I really value, and I learn something from students in every class I teach.