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Ted Khoury - Professor
Ted Khoury - Professor

Fearless Mentor


How long have you been teaching at PSU School of Business? What about PSU attracted you to take a professorship? 

I have been teaching in the SBA for 3 years now, where the draw to PSU (which is still quite active) comes from many angles. Through my own education pursuits and my previous teaching experiences I've spent comparable amounts of time at metropolitan campuses and 'college-town' campus environments, and really found myself favoring the metropolitan settings. They bring a worldliness and level of diversity to the classroom that enriches the learning experiences in such a productive way.

What do you think the most important qualities are for today's business leaders to fearlessly meet the market's challenges? How does PSU School of Business help build those qualities in its students? 

There are a few that are generally important, regardless of your specialization. Without a doubt, students need to cultivate the ability to recognize and breakdown strategy challenges, where the qualities embodied by strong leaders are drawn from critical and analytical thinking skills, effective communication capabilities, and ongoing curiosity.  These qualities need to be "hard-wired" when our students hit the workforce, and through the curriculum and faculty-student interactions, these themes are constantly being utilized so that by the time they graduate, its in their blood.  Students who can think critically are able to see problems from a multi-stakeholder view, harvest the right information to assess the challenge, and make connections around the relationships, actions and processes that matter. The modern economy needs individuals who can 'sell', not product or services necessarily, but ideas and things less tangible. The sociology of it is that a lot of information can be inferred from how effective one communicates with others, and students who can communicate effectively are able to establish credibility, trust, and being worthy of greater responsibilities. Its a quality that tracks well with career progress. Curiosity keeps you learning-- keeps you a student forever-- and that's a mindset that keeps you contemporary in your career wherever you go and keeps you growing as an individual. The program and curriculum helps cultivate these qualities from the initial entry-level courses all the way through their senior capstone experience. These seem to be 'sticky' qualities from their time spent here as I still see these animated in the graduates I am able to follow in their careers. 

Please describe your role in the senior capstone project. How do you see students change over the course of the capstone year? How does the capstone program contribute to that change?

 I teach the senior capstone strategic management course, which is a six (rather than four at most other schools) credit course where students, working in small groups,  are presented with an outside client in our community on the second day of class, who shares all of their strategy struggles and problems that they face. The students determine what the actual challenges are that need to be solved, present the client with a statement of work that they develop, and proceed to meet with the client throughout the term to present their research and analysis around these problems and ultimately final recommendations to help the client move forward beyond their situation. Essentially, the students act as consulting teams. The  diversity of projects (in terms of industry-focus, government, for-profit/not-for-profit emphasis) that we serve out of the 60+ clients this course serves per year is amazing where the common theme is that the community client partners are those that are in the most need. We have helped countless non-profits, the City of Portland, food carts, app-based entrepreneurs, media-outlets, low and high-tech start-ups, several service-based firms, and many PSU-based clients.  This has amounted to several business plans, marketing plans, patent-licensing plans, diversification-strategies etc.  

The students actively apply the theoretical frameworks that we learn in lectures and readings to the client-based projects like a live "in-vivo" case that they must solve in 10 weeks. So, this really helps show the practical value of strategic management theory and how to make it actionable in their own work.  This represents some of the more tangible growth that the students are able to see over the course of the term, but more intangibly, i see them learn to take ownership of their ideas and critical thinking skills and ultimately learn how to 'sell' themselves, the work of their peers, and their ideas more effectively. They learn how to give bad news and justify it through rigorous research and analysis.  They learn how to give critical feedback to their peers and take feedback with an open mind. Through several groups supporting several client problems in the same section, they also get exposed to a variety of problem-solving techniques too. with this, there are so many peer-to-peer, intra- and inter-group learning experiences that take place. So, as a whole, we (the students and I) go in and out of professor-student and mentor-consultant modes and interactions throughout the term and it helps assimilate the students into their professional environments in a seamless way. We've really got the operations of sourcing great clients and managing this community interface  down very very well at this point.  Clients have been so impressed that students have received job offers upon finishing their project and its not uncommon for students to believe in it so much that they return as a capstone client for the ventures they are launching at graduation. I still keep in touch with our clients routinely to check in on their progress and its really exciting to see the ventures that we've helped launch for the greater Portland area-- especially the ones we've watched go national or become house-hold names in Oregon. I also keep in touch with my students and they constantly remark on how valuable this program was to their development. 

As someone with a history as a senior manager in the marketplace, what qualities does PSU School of Business instill into its students that makes them attractive hires? 

Our faculty-student interaction feels like a private school experience during many of the courses and with that a student is able to get a high-touch experience out of the program. Our capstone course is exceptionally designed and stands as one of PSU's key inimitable competitive advantages. I think our graduates bring a rare worldliness to their workplaces and a confidence on how to apply their degrees to real problems. In essence, they are able to hit the ground running and as our community partners and employers have attested they are remarkably *capable* in terms of their contributions.   An admirable quality that I see in our graduates is the ability to see a bigger picture and position problems within a broader landscape of issues, challenges, and opportunities. 

From your perspective as a business leader and professor, what are the advantages of a business school embedded into the heart of Portland? 

The SBA is exceptionally positioned both spatially and physically in downtown green-Portland, and functionally in terms of its ability to serve Oregon. On this aspect, Portland represents the economic and social meridian of the state, and PSU occupies a lead role in the community's ongoing growth and well-being. Externally, this is motivating since Portland is a character that's easy to root for. I look at all the amazing colleagues I have in the SBA and across campus-- their accomplishments, their visions, their diligence-- and, internally, its very motivating to be a part of such a great cadre of leaders, experts, and scholars. These scholars could be anywhere, but they have chosen PSU and their choice to further this institution is really inspiring. Frankly, its a team that's very student and community focused, yet the scholarly values are ones that encourage intellectual risk-taking and innovative research pursuits. We, as faculty, routinely engage with our community partners and with this we are able to integrate industry with student academics and scholarly inquiry with great ease.  The SBA's growing roster of partners see this too. There's no "catch-up" or special explanation that has to be done when we as researchers or teachers engage with Portland's industry players. It happens often enough and with natural ease, such that the SBA's relationship with industry is well-beyond 'getting to know' how to manage this interface. This is something I see other business schools really struggle to make happen. Rather. we are way beyond studying how to account for these relationships, and are at a phase of 'what project is next'? So, overall, faculty and students, are able to have more productive interactions with our state's surrounding communities-- its a special part of PSU that I personally will never take for granted and our students see that too.