Chris Harben: The Man Who Knows What it Takes To Be Successful In The Work Place

Some know him as the man who watches soon-to-be graduated students struggle through the senior capstone simulation. Others know him as the professor who cracks jokes and makes morning classes a little less miserable.

He is Dr. Chris Harben and he teaches Management and International Business. He also has done studies in Small Business Strategy, Organizational Leadership, Family Business Continuation. He is a great professor and we thought the Behrend community would love to learn more about him! 

 

How long have you been working at Behrend?

 

This is 4th semester here at Behrend.

Fun Fact: Dr. Habren's oldest daughter Cara, is actually a student here at Behrend!

What courses do you teach? Which course is your favorite course?

 

Currently, I teach MGMT 471W and IB 303. It’s hard for me to choose a “favorite” because they are both very different in my mind. But if forced, I would probably lean toward MGMT 471W simply because it is almost totally focused on “application” rather than theory. It is a very “consultative” course that I look at as the “last chance” to get ready for career success.

Where did you go to school?

 

I was looking at the bio of a Member of Parliament today and noted with some humor that he lists his GRAMMAR school as part of his educational history!

I don’t think there is value in me listing such school so I will assume you are only interested in my higher education pedigree.

 

I went to the University of Akron for my BA in Mass Media Communication.

My MBA in Organizational Leadership and International Business is from the University of Findlay.

Finally, my Doctor of Strategic Leadership is from Regent University

 

What country so far has been your favorite to visit?

The UK has been my favorite as it has been my most recent. My family is from the UK and the history and culture of the UK are very interesting to me.

Fun Fact: Dr. Harben's youngest daughter, Cami, was in a show called Xanadu!

What place in the world would you want to visit?

 

That is a very long list.

But, based on plans over the next few years, the places I want to visit include Africa (already planning to go to Ghana this summer) including South Africa, Russia, India, and Venezuela (despite and because of current issues).

 

Are you an advisor for any clubs on campus? If so what club and what does the club do?

 

I will be the new Advisor for the International Business Club in the next few weeks. This is a club that is fairly new on campus and intends to enhance the marketability of International Business students by providing after-school activities and networking opportunities.

Fun Fact: Dr. Harben is engaged to this amazing gal named Betsy!

What other jobs have you had besides teaching?

 

Another long list! Students in my classes will often hear stories during class and then ask “what HAVEN’T you done?”

Immediately before pursuing higher education degrees, I spent 15 years in various roles in financial services including as a financial advisor and Regional VP for a couple of different insurance companies.

Before my financial services career, I worked in retail including as an Operations Manager for Kmart.

 

What advice to students majoring in Business/ Management/ IB?

 

Be ENGAGED! Pay attention to what is happening outside of our country. Travel. These things make you SIGNIFICANTLY more interesting as an employee or potential employee. Think about it. Who do you want to talk to more at a social event of a family gathering? Isn’t it the person who has traveled and has stories to share? Don’t they also provide good lessons? It’s not a difficult thing to be that person. You will gain a broader perspective on life and business and again, be MUCH more valuable to whomever hires you.

 

Do you have any pets?

 

Yes…but they don’t live with me here in Erie.

Fun Fact: Dr. Harben's cat is named Sheldon!

 

Whats your funniest teaching story?

 

Hmmmm. It’s a little long so here is the short version. I had a student in an MBA class years ago who was German/Brazilian. She was a “non-traditional” student in her 40’s. I will call her “Joy” for the sake of this story. She had worked for a Governor in Brazil before coming to the US. The class was broken into teams of 2 students each and each team had to do a presentation. Her presentation just happened to be the last one of the night (and the class was a 6pm-10pm class). Her partner started the presentation—and went long! I was giving the 5 minute and 2 minute warning and then finally told them they were done because the class had now ended. Joy never got to do her part of the presentation because her partner went long and took up the entire time. So, Joy got upset and started to argue with me—in front of the class. She said I was rude to cut her off and that I “always do that” to her (She was a student who would often go off on tangents in class and I would have to bring her back to the point). I told her we can talk about this after class and she continued to want to argue until I finally said in a loud, firm voice “Joy, sit down!”  Then I dismissed the class who were all stunned in silence.

Joy was crying and immediately after everyone left, she apologized to me. Her partner was dumbfounded. She was the first student I ever made cry!

The next class, Joy gave everyone invitations to her graduation party that was going to be hosted by her boyfriend at a local Country Club. I was the only person who went. At the party, I was introduced to her boyfriend, the CEO of a local hospital. He, in turn, introduced me to members of his Board.

A few weeks later, he hired me as a consultant.

Not exactly a “funny” story except if you think that I got a fairly large consulting client after making his girlfriend cry!

 

 

Thank you, Dr. Chris Harben, for taking the time to share with us! We have had a blast getting to know you and know other students will as well!!