MBA Alumnus Creates Connection in Higher Education: November’s aMaizeing Alumni

Alumnus, Raymond Pirouz, graduated with honors in May 2021 from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and was awarded Most Outstanding MBA Student from his graduating cohort. During his time as a student, he founded a graduate/alumni social network for SOM students. Raymond is an Instructor at the MSU Broad College of Business in the Marketing Department where he’s able to share his passion for learning with others continuing their education. In 2021, Raymond earned four teaching awards including the MBA Faculty of the Year award by the Broad College of Business.

As our featured alumni of the month, Raymond gave insight on what led him to begin teaching, why he chose UM-Flint for his MBA, his favorite classroom experiences, and how his UM-Flint education impacts the courses he teaches as marketing faculty at MSU.

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A:  Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing and Innovation Management, 2021

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience?
A: I founded http://www.UMF-SOM.net, a social network for graduate students of the UM-Flint School of Management. Even though it was an unofficial initiative, it was recognized by the School of Management and is currently listed along with other student organizations.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your job like day to day?
A: I am currently a Broad College of Business Instructor in the Marketing Department at Michigan State University. I have taught at MSU Broad now for a little over three years, though I have been teaching for a little over 25 years at a number of universities including the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California (Irvine) and the Ivey Business School at Western University (London, Ontario Canada) among others.

I love my job because I love learning and I love sharing what I am passionate about with others. So, I get to share my excitement with young people (well, younger people than me for the most part) who are on a journey of growth and advancement.

Q: Describe your career path
A: My undergrad was in Graphic & Packaging Design and I began work as an Art Director in an interactive ad agency during the Dot Com Boom (early dinosaur days of the internet). After a year in advertising, I left to write a few books and became a published author who had the opportunity to speak at conferences and be interviewed on the radio. One thing lead to another and I started teaching (which is something I always wanted to eventually do even when I was a student in design school). A little over 25 years later and I finally had the chance to earn my MBA after spending so many years teaching other MBA students.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: Teaching is a passion to me. It’s one of the rare occupations in life where I know I am making a positive difference in the lives of other people, no question about it. I also love the idea of higher education: One of the few opportunities we have created as a human species wherein people of various socioeconomic and other backgrounds willingly come together in peace and harmony for the pursuit of self-improvement. There are few things in this life that reach that level of authenticity and purity in my opinion, and I want to be a part of that.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A: I actually don’t think that teaching is for everyone, and I doubt most MBA students want to go into teaching. For those who do, however, don’t be like me since I definitely did not follow the prescribed path for a career in academia, nor is my role as Instructor necessarily esteemed within the ivory tower. I am not a Ph.D. researcher, but that is what I recommend young people pursue if they are serious about academia.

Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself?
A: I am happy to continue teaching for the next 15-20 years before I retire.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree?
A: I appreciated UM-Flint SOM’s flexible modality that enabled busy professionals like me the opportunity to learn remotely while also having the opportunity to attend in-person sessions during weekend residencies.

Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today?
A: My experience at UM-Flint was a deep-dive ethnography of the MBA student experience, which has been invaluable to my role as a marketing faculty at Michigan State University, teaching MBA and undergraduate students. The experience enabled me to literally put myself in the shoes of my students and to appreciate their trials, tribulations, expectations, wants, needs, and desires firsthand. One can not put a price on such insight.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint?
A: The need to interact with faculty and classmates to get a fuller picture of the subject matter.

Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why?
A: One of my favorite classroom experiences at UM-Flint SOM was during my final year where I was in a team that competed against other teams in our capstone strategy class, managing an international sneaker retailer brand through an online simulation. The experience afforded a roller coaster of emotions, but we did manage to come out on top and I learned a lot from the team dynamics.

Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why?
A: During my time at UM-Flint, I was most influenced by my peers and friends in the program. We laughed, struggled, and learned from each other and they remain people I can connect with today if I needed to.

Q: Share your best college memory
A: Meeting other MBA students during weekend residency and hanging out in-between and after class.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: After 25 years of teaching, I miraculously earned the following teaching awards in the same year as I graduated with my MBA:

  • MBA Faculty of the Year, 2021
    Broad College of Business, MSU
  • Instructor of Excellence, Undergraduate Required Courses, 2021
    Michigan State University
  • Instructor of Excellence, Undergraduate Electives, 2021
    Michigan State University
  • Instructor of Excellence, Full-Time MBA Program, 2021
    Michigan State University

Q: What is something people may not know about you?
A: As an undergrad, I took advantage of an exchange term opportunity with a now-defunct Swiss campus of my design school. I spend a few months in one of the most expensive and beautiful countries on this planet, touring Switzerland on its pristine and on-time trains. It remains among the highlights of my life.

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