Duke MMS Student Blog
My Favorite Fuqua Professor — Michael Roach
If I asked you what separates a good professor from a great professor, what would you say? Would they make you call them “Oh captain, my captain?” or would it be requisite that they transform a rag-tag group into a brilliant collection of cohesive talent? No, you wouldn’t say that, at least I hope you wouldn’t.
Let’s be realistic. We have all had professors that surpass expectations and inspire us, but the truly great professors can achieve this and remain relatively unnoticed. In my humble opinion, what makes a great professor is someone who allows the message to take center stage and provides an environment wherein students can make connections of their own.
Michael Roach is one professor who exemplifies this attitude and his class, Principles of Strategy, was a comprehensive course on the art of business strategy. What impressed me about Professor Roach was how his approach to a class on strategy mirrored his material.
We were asked to come to class having read cases and formulated plans to help firms achieve long term objectives. During class we would evaluate those formulations and assess their effectiveness while simultaneously absorbing strategy lingo and principles. Following class, we were given everything we needed to understand how the implementation of these initial proposals would lead a given company to their objectives. What I didn’t see at the time was how this process mirrored realistic business strategy — the freedom and space we were given to analyze large amounts of information and give recommendations is precisely what strategists do in the real world.
Professor Roach didn’t spend his lecture fishing for precise answers, but instead sought to draw from our creative resolutions using specific techniques of analysis. The final project allowed us to pick an organization, analyze its current business strategy and competitive environment and make recommendations on how to improve. Each presentation was dynamic and engaging but what made these projects relevant was how each group used strategic approaches to make realistic recommendations to very serious business problems. I could easily see how this exercise was shaping our attitude and broadening our vision to one day be leaders.
Our teacher gave us full access to these business tools, and more importantly, Professor Roach gave us the confidence to use them at appropriate times. We were no longer spectators hurling recommendations. Aside from this, he is a friendly face around Fuqua who genuinely cares about each student and he’s a mean competitor on the basketball floor. For those looking for a reason to come to Fuqua and join the next MMS class, business strategy will be invaluable throughout the scope of your career and Professor Roach will give you the know-how and confidence to be a leader of vision and consequence.