Young Garry Adams couldn’t hold back his emotions any longer and hollered intently at the television inside his Alton, Ill., childhood home. After all, his beloved St. Louis Cardinals were playing in a tight game.
“Garry, how much money are they (Cardinals) sending you from this game?” his mother asked.
“They are not sending me anything,” Garry replied.
“Then why are you getting so passionate into it like you play on the team?” she asked again.
Adams, still a devout Cardinals fan who says he doesn’t take his team’s success as seriously as he did in his youth, has worked at Auburn for the past 11 years helping mold tomorrow’s business leaders. Learn more about Adams’ role at Auburn, his professional interests, and who his all-time favorite Cardinal is by reading below.
Shareholder Online: What courses do you teach?
Garry Adams: I teach strategic management. What makes it fun and interesting for me is that I get to teach across the levels. Undergrad strategy is our capstone course, so all of the seniors are required to take it regardless of major. I also teach in the Physicians MBA program. I teach one of their finishing strategy courses, and I teach strategy to our PhD students. It’s the same general class, but there is a lot more theory and research application. With the MBAs, there are a lot more practical applications. You get a variety of different folks with physicians, so it’s fun to teach them. You have people that are running small practices that are looking for ‘How can I expand my business,’ or ‘How can I grow?’ And then you’ve got people that are administrators in large systems that are looking at how to manage a large organization. They are very intelligent and very passionate about what they are getting from an MBA course.
Shareholder Online: What’s the most important lesson you want your students to get out of your classes that they can use in their respective careers?
Garry Adams: One of the things I try to emphasize with them is to look at strategy – not only what it’s going to do for them educationally but also to consider professional implications. Just like businesses need to have strategic plans, they need to have strategic plans. I tell them that they are coming to a crossroads. Where do they want to be five years, 10 years from now? How are they going to go about executing that plan? We spend some time talking about how they can take the same information that we are talking about from the organizational level and then apply it to what they are doing from an individual perspective.
Shareholder Online: Tell us about any other programs you are involved in?
Garry Adams: Management Faculty of Color Association and the PhD Project. I came through the PhD Project as a student and the whole goal is it increases minority representation in the classroom and across business disciplines. They are looking at and targeting, specifically, African-American, Hispanic American, Native American potential faculty members to go and get their PhDs in business and then to have a place in the classroom.
I’m also serving as the director of the Academy of Management Placement Services, which is something that I’ve been involved in as a volunteer since when I was a doctoral student. What it does is volunteering to help recruiters find good applicants for jobs and it’s helping applicants, especially doctoral students, that are going on the market to place in their first jobs. We help coordinate interviews at our annual conference and we also advise students how to go about the interview process.
Shareholder Online: How are your students most influenced by you?
Garry Adams: I’ll tell people all of the time that I enjoy research and the service that I do, but I have more of an impact teaching. Hopefully, I’m training and helping develop students that are going to be good managers when they go out into the business world. Some of the principles we’ve discussed they are going to apply. I’ve had students come back and tell me that when they were in the course they didn’t realize what they had gotten out of it, but when they went out into the business world and actually working as managers, they realized how they could apply some of the things we discussed and the tools we’ve given them and it’s helped them be successful in the business world. That’s the biggest impact you can have – train managers that are touching people’s lives every day and you hope that they act in an ethical manner and a satisfactory business manner and that they make good, rational decisions, outperform their competitors in the marketplace, they keep their employees employed – all of those things that help businesses be successful.
Shareholder Online: How long have you been a St. Louis Cardinals fan?
Garry Adams: I’ve been a Cardinals fan since I was a kid. It’s funny because my dad was a Dodgers fan. He never understood how I was a Cardinals fan. I remember being a little kid and the Cardinals might be playing on the west coast and falling asleep listening the Jack Buck describe Cardinal games on the radio. They went through some slumps when I was growing up, but in my teen-age years they won the World Series (1982) and I’ve seen them win again in 2006 and 2011.
The Shareholder Online: Who is your all-time favorite Cardinal?
Garry Adams: Bob Gibson. I remember seeing him play when I was little. I always liked his competitive instinct. He was such a big-game pitcher.
The Shareholder Online: Who will play in the World Series this October?
Garry Adams: I would say the Dodgers would be the odds-on favorite, and also the Tigers. Those are two scary teams. I hope the Dodgers don’t win because I don’t want people to think that they can just buy a team and go that way. Baseball is one of those games where who is hot at the right time and chemistry plays a large role. The Cardinals are in a tough division (NL Central). Hopefully, they can avoid that one-game wild card playoff. But anything can happen. You saw the Cardinals and Braves last year.
The Shareholder Online: How about the NFL?
Garry Adams: I’m a Rams fan, but that’s been painful over the years. I moved to start my PhD the day they won the Super Bowl (January 2000). My dad inherited my season tickets and love for the Rams. He still gets them to this day. He’s started out a Cleveland Browns fan, but now he’s the biggest Rams fan in the world. He goes to the games and we kept the tickets. I’ll go when I get home, but I’ll be lucky to catch one game every five years or so.
The Shareholder Online: If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
Garry Adams: South Africa. There is such beauty in the experience, and such dichotomy.
The Shareholder Online: If you could visit with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Garry Adams: Martin Luther King Jr. because of the difference he made and the impact he has on people. The impact he has on our society is absolutely amazing, and the big changes that he has driven.
The Shareholder Online: What is your favorite thing about Auburn?
Garry Adams: I love the passion. The love the people have for the university and for the area. When I came here, I didn’t know how I would fit in but I definitely felt like part of the Auburn family. In general, this has been a wonderful experience for me and I definitely feel like I’m part of the Auburn family. We do a lot of social things outside of the classroom. This is definitely a place where the total experience goes beyond work. Some of my best friends work here and I enjoy the interactions we have at work and outside of work as well.
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