The University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business has welcomed experienced steel industry chief executive Michael Austin to its ranks as full-time executive-in-residence for the 2005-2006 academic year.
Austin provides lectures and presentations to selected classes on career planning and management and is working on book projects. His presentations have received high evaluations from students, who appreciate the real-world experiences Austin brings to the classroom.
Mitchell College of Business Dean Carl Moore said Austin will be an invaluable asset to the students and faculty.
“We are very fortunate to have a successful chief executive with Mike Austin’s experience and enthusiasm for students with us this year,” Moore said. “His interaction with a
number of classes will provide students with a unique perspective on the issues they will encounter as they begin their business careers.”
Austin is working with Dr. Jeanne Maes, a professor of management at USA, on books on career planning and a professional improvement process. Together, they are going to encapsulate some of their classroom teachings for a wider audience through a textbook.
Austin comes to the University after a career in the steel industry, where he made his reputation as a turn-around specialist and motivational leader. Trained as an engineer at Boston University, Austin spent a few years as a foreman at National Steel Corp. before realizing he wanted something more from his career. At age 27, he mapped a career plan for himself that included becoming a chief executive and teacher.
All of his career goals have been realized by sticking to that original plan. He and his wife of 46 years moved their five children around the country to advance Austin’s career. Over the years, he struggled against managers who pigeonholed him as an engineer. Later, he used human resource management and his own study of management styles to become known as a dynamic chief executive, turn-around specialist and leader.
“If management listens to people, and does something about their suggestions, and builds those relationships, you can have growth and communication,” Austin said.
Now, just as he planned, he is passing on these management skills to the next generation of business leaders through teaching. He said the students respond so well to his courses because he offers them a blend of theory and practice.
“You have to be totally real when you’re dealing with people,” he said. “I tell my students, ‘You can control your own destiny. You can control where you’re going.’”
As the final project in his Professional Management Seminar, Austin asks his students to complete their own career plan. Then, their plans are scrutinized by the audience, which includes Dean Moore and other faculty members.
Austin said his role as executive-in-residence is the fulfillment of a long-held dream to teach.
“I’m giving back to the system,” he said. “My real passion is to help these young people and teach them these skills.”