By Kayllan Olicio
What is your educational background and work history?
I came out of the defense industry. I worked there for about 20 years. I worked for Signal Technology, I ran a number of facilities for them. Then, back in early ’91, I started my own business and left the industry. Actually, it wasn’t that polite. The cold war had ended and because of that the defense industry really started to shrink and opportunities disappeared. In fact, I wrote a story. I like to write and I’ve been published in small little things. I wrote about the whole experience, about how all of a sudden everything was running great and then it petered. I have a B.S in both economics and business. I was a double major. I went on and got a master’s in business arts, which was a little different than an M.B.A. Then, from there I went to Duke University and completed an advanced certificate program and a graduate program.
What is your favorite undergraduate experience?
It was how the professors interacted with us – even bringing us into their homes. It was very social. The program that I was in was run by Clark University, and there were only eight of us in the program. It was something new they were starting. The M.B.A program actually ran the business program at Worcester State and those professors were just really great to us and took a lot of personal interest in us and I liked that.
What is it like to be on the MetroWest Economic Research Center (MERC) advisory board?
I’ve enjoyed that because I like meeting the students. Economics is my first love and I’ve always enjoyed it. Teaching is exciting for me. People say, “Why do you teach?” ... I really like to make a difference. I like to think that students, after they leave my class, I have somehow affected them. So, that they will be better people, better business people and I can share some of my experiences with them. A lot of time, a professor will sit there and brag about their personal experiences and I don’t think that is fair to the students. I think you have to tell them when you were bad, and you didn’t do so well, because that’s what you learn from. ... It’s really nice to hang out with young people and hear their ideas.
How do you take your life experiences and apply them to what you are teaching in the
I try not to go off on a tangent and start talking about something for the sake of talking about it. I try to relate some of my personal experiences to what we are learning in the text. In the class, that’s more important to me. I know that it’s easy to go off on a tangent, but when I go into a classroom, I already know what I’m going to do. I’m constantly looking at my watch to see where I am at certain points in time with the material I want to get through. I also like to see the students become interactive. I try to get the class to talk more and me talk less.
What would your students be surprised to know about you?
I sit on a number of boards and I don’t think that is any big deal. The thing that excites me is my grandchildren. I have three grandsons and they are a joy. ... I started some companies ... They are fun to do. The bowtie company [Boston Bowtie] was kind of neat because it was international. Actually, my other company did international business, but not to the extent the bowtie company did.
What inspired you to start your own bowtie company?
Friends, actually. ... I’ve worn bowties for years and one of my friends said to me, “Let’s go into business together,” and I said, “Fine, but you have to be involved and you know I’m not going to do it by myself.” So, we went ahead and got connections for making bowties. I got a market going that I could sell them to. I had someone generate a very expensive website, which would not be anywhere near the price I would pay for it today, so I could sell them over the internet. I was a dotcom business, basically, with a product. It was fun to do. I enjoyed it. It got to be too much and I tried to have someone else take it over, and I finally just sold it out to another company.
What advice would you give to FSU students?
Have fun. I’m always amazed when I turn to someone and ask, “What do you do for fun?” And they don’t have an answer. I think it’s really important to have fun in life, and if you aren’t having fun, then change something. Fun doesn’t mean you have to be without goals and objectives. I just mean do things that are fun. Smile. ... I see people who don’t like to smile. I’ll sit there at times with a smile on my face ever so slight. It’s fun. People walk up to you and they want to know you. People like to meet with people who are positive and happy. In life, that’s what it is all about dealing with people.