Learn About MBA@UNC from Marketing Professor Bill Putsis

Faculty members are a valuable and integral part of any MBA program, and MBA@UNC faculty bring countless years of industry experience and knowledge to the classroom. Among those is Kenan-Flagler Marketing Professor Dr. William Putsis. The author of Compete Smarter, Not Harder: A Process for Developing the Right Priorities Through Strategic Thinking, Putsis focuses on applying game models of competition, competitive strategy, product line strategy and sports marketing.

Putsis’ consulting clients include the Boeing Company, Morgan Stanley, Heinz, McCann-Erickson, Barclays Bank, Special Olympics International and British-American Tobacco. He has taught in executive non-degree programs for the Boeing Company, Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN AMRO, Amcor, British Airways, Baker Hughes International, the U.S. Navy, Matsushita, KONE and Exxon/Mobil. Read on for Putsis’ insights on MBA@UNC.

How did Putsis become involved in the MBA@UNC program?
Putsis has taught in the executive program at Kenan-Flagler since 2001 and says he was intrigued when he first heard about the MBA@UNC program. “It gives me the opportunity to innovate, to do things differently than I have done before,” he says. For instance, he assembled a group of marketing experts from around the world for a virtual debate online. “That is something we don’t do in a traditional classroom setting,” he adds.

What courses does he teach at MBA@UNC?
Regarding his Marketing Strategy, Analysis & Development course, Putsis says, “It’s not just about basic marketing but about how we develop the strategy as to where to play, where to compete in the market, value chain that leads to high margins, strategic control points and the ability to leverage existing points of strength.” The course is taught through asynchronous sessions (video lectures pre-recorded by Putsis) and synchronous sessions taught by top-notch faculty members with in-depth industry experience where small groups interact in real time online.

What was his experience in developing the course content for the MBA@UNC online learning platform?
Putsis says many faculty members underestimated the amount of work it would take to convert face-to-face sessions into an online format. “It’s not just taking a dump of what we do and downloading it from the offline to the online environment,” he says. “What I found is after we started to run the course [there was] a great deal of restructuring. There’s a different level of connection between those individual pieces for the whole thing to flow in a way that makes sense in an online environment.” For students, that online experience should be fairly seamless.

What has surprised Professor Putsis about the program thus far?
“As innovative as I think it is, we’ve only skimmed the surface,” Putsis says. “The second thing is the level of discussions that happen in the synchronous sessions.” The synchronous sessions are recorded so students can re-watch them later. The nature of those live discussions and the small class setting makes it a different experience than a 60-person classroom. “There’s no place to hide,” Putsis says. “You have to be engaged. The good part about that is you’ll be part of the discussion.”

What business consulting work does he do outside of teaching in this program?
Kenan-Flagler faculty members are active practitioners of the concepts they teach, and Putsis is no exception. “We’re a business school,” he says. “I have no idea how we could teach executives and work with executives to take theories and put them into practice unless we do it ourselves.” Putsis is president and CEO of Chestnut Hill Associates, a strategic consulting firm he founded in 1995, and he brings that real-world consulting experience to the classroom. He also founded a software company, CADEO Economics, to automate the data modeling based strategy development processes.

What advice does Professor Putsis have for a potential student who is interested in UNC?
UNC students in general are known for their earnestness. “We work hard, we have fun at what we do and we work on interesting topics,” Putsis says. Of MBA@UNC in particular, Putsis warns that it’s rigorous and time-consuming. “Go in expecting to participate, expecting to be involved,” he says. “If not, it’s probably not the right program.”

More from Professor Putsis on MBA@UNC:

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