Five Questions with Professor John Greathouse on Business and Personal Development


Madison Kirkpatrick
Campus Beat Reporter

Here at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Technology Management Program (TMP) is a widely popular certificate. Whether a student is interested in business or not, this certificate is something that anyone can benefit from. Professor John Greathouse is the professor for TMP 111, the introductory lecture series, as well as TMP 34, a lower division course about sales and persuasion. He is also a writer for Forbes and a former chief financial officer at several businesses. I spoke with professor Greathouse about his past as a businessman, his current work as a professor, and asked him if he had any advice for current and potential TMP students.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity. 

You have a lot of different life experience, including chief financial officer of several organizations, certified public accountant, and Forbes contributor. What position(s) do you feel has been most beneficial to you as a businessman and your personal development in general?

“I worked in startups, but more of a CLO. I had the title of finance but did more marketing and selling. Raising money and being in sales is important because I can promote a business. This position taught me how to listen and speak well, and these are important skills. You need these in daily life in order to be more empathetic and supportive.”

Why did you decide to become a professor? 

“There are lots of things we end up doing in life. When I went to Wharton, I was allowed to be a teaching assistant. I was good at it and I had a talent, it was something I liked a lot. When I was 40, I took a few years off and decided to come to UCSB; the timing was perfect. It was hard at first — I was starting a business — but I loved teaching and the rewards are great. I love seeing people succeed.”

Do you feel like your positions, as well as teaching, are mutually exclusive?

“1. I’m an investor for small companies and I’m on the board for a lot of these companies. 2. I’ve written for Forbes and [The] Wall Street Journal. 

I teach. There’s only so much to write about in business before you repeat yourself, but classes and investing allow me to keep my content relevant and timely. I learn from students and entrepreneurs and they can learn from me. They all compliment each other. Also, writing is a very important skill to have, but unfortunately, not a lot of kids have it.”

You mentioned in your TMP class that the two most important things for students to have are a mentor and an internship. Focusing on the mentor part, why is this so important?

“Students automatically assume ‘this person can help me get a job!’ This may be true, but this person can help you look at yourself, self-reflect, and improve on things you need to. My advice is to go with someone who you want to be like in 5+ years. How do you want to get there? How are they walking down this path, and how can you get there? You may learn that you don’t want to do this certain path, but if anything you get that experience. It’s also a lot cheaper than getting an extra education. You can find these anywhere, but you don’t want to push people. Just take advantage of your professors and go to office hours!”

What would you suggest to students who want to be in the program but don’t know where to start, or maybe their career goals don’t align with technology?

“There are misconceptions about the program, but I would recommend TMP 111 to get started. It’s one unit and late in the day, and it’s also an introductory class. I also suggest my sales class. It’s not for everyone, but there’s no other way to figure this out than to sit in the class.”