Name: Clifton D. Petty
Title: Professor of Management
Courses Taught: Strategic Management, Corporate Policy & Ethics, Leadership & Organizations, Organizational Behavior, Strategic Organization & HRM (MBA), Innovation (MBA), Advanced Strategy Seminar (MBA), Entrepreneurial Development (MBA)
I received my BA in English and MBA from Baylor. After graduating with my MBA I joined Texas Commerce Bank in Houston. I served as a corporate banker in their Mid-Atlantic territory until just about the time that Texas Commerce was acquired by Chemical Bank (NY). At this point I went back to school in the Ph.D. program in Management and Organizational Behavior at the University of Houston (Ph.D., 1991).
My research began in traditional organizational behavior areas, particularly negotiation and decision-making. But early on I migrated toward the more macro areas of strategy, corporate policy, and corporate governance (boards of directors). I find these areas of study a nice fit for a management professor with a banker's lean toward financial analysis. Mostly these days I write cases and papers about teaching management.
I grew up in a family business, and learned from both my parents that business is a service profession. The recent waves of business scandals and frauds have caused many to doubt the power of business for good. I admit that I have had been disheartened by recent events, particularly with regard to the banking profession. But working with good students encourages me that better days lie ahead. Breech students understand that service and professionalism are vital to the restoration of trust and the expansion of opportunity. And Breech faculty members are committed to educating our students so that they are the effective and ethical business leaders of the future.
How does the Breech School of Business prepare students for their professional careers?
I think one of the means by which Breech prepares students for their professional careers is by expanding their range of thinking, helping them to recognize that most important problems are multifaceted and require knowledge from multiple disciplines. Breech students study abroad, complete internships, and work in teams. Both their general (core) education and their Breech studies prepare them to contribute to business practice in a dynamic global business environment.
The Breech School of Business is also a close community, and I believe that students benefit from the mixing of disciplines, backgrounds, and interests. We teach a respect for all the business disciplines, and that problems and opportunities do not generally appear neatly packaged in one discipline or area of study. We encourage our students to use a variety of analytical and theoretical tools and perspectives.
What sets Breech apart from other business schools?
I believe we are all committed to a more thoughtful and holistic approach to business. We are certainly concerned with using the best theories and technical tools available in business. But we are also bound by our desire to live better lives and to serve others. I don't think we have our heads stuck in the clouds. But at the same time we are a community of people who think about the world and our role in it. We wonder about the future of business, and about our contributions to that future.
Do you have any favorite memories inside the Breech building?
Yes, many good memories. Most of them are nothing dramatic, but rather conversations with students and colleagues. I love those moments when a light goes on in somebody's head (or heart). You can almost see it sometimes—like that cartoon light bulb. I love sharing "aha" moments with others. Sometimes these have been a breakthrough idea, but just as often the breakthroughs are more personal—an internship idea, a career direction, an idea for starting a new business. Whatever causes another person to light up; I consider it a great honor and privilege to share those moments with them.
What advice would you offer to a new student beginning their course of study in the Breech School of Business?
Take ownership of your studies and your personal development. Don't wait for someone else to set the agenda. Instead, begin early to develop your own goals and to target your own opportunities. Breech faculty and fellow students will be your some of your biggest fans and best advisors, but don't lean on them so much that you miss opportunities that are uniquely your own. Think about what you want to study in greater depth. Scout for internships that interest you most. Seek service, academic, and business opportunities that you value most. Four years sounds like a long time, but it passes in the blink of an eye. Make the most of it!