Matt Metzger started his academic career studying biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder with plans to return to his native Alaska and work with the state’s fish and game agency to work to keep the salmon population healthy. But those plans changed after earning his undergraduate degree.
“My family is in the commercial fishing business, bringing in 15,000 pounds of halibut a year. As an undergraduate, I had to clean 80 fish tanks a day and that cured me of wanting to work with fish,” Metzger said.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, he went to the Midwest where his parents had moved to from Alaska to open a coffee-roasting business.
That experience working in a small, family-owned business prompted Metzger to change direction and earn a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame. He is expected to complete his doctoral degree in management this semester at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business and begin teaching classes at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he has joined the College of Business faculty, in January.
Metzger will teach an undergraduate course in entrepreneurship in which class members develop a business plan for a local company. The class is part of the Bachelor of Innovation program, a degree in which students take classes in the colleges of Business, Engineering and Applied Science and Letters, Arts and Sciences. His research focus is on the Internet’s influence on industries traditionally dominated by brick-and-mortar retailers and how those retailers changed their business models in response to a new competitive landscape.
Metzger recently talked with The Gazette about his career, research and teaching plans at UCCS.
Question: What attracted you to a teaching position at UCCS?
Answer: When I was an undergraduate student, the professor I worked with had fish brought in from the African Rift Valley to study. It seemed odd to me that we would bring back fish to study in a lab. That really doesn’t happen in a business school. We are trying to bring real-world insight into what the students are reading in the textbooks. That has always been the point of what I have tried to do. You only learn so much in a book. It is important to go out and interview entrepreneurs and see what matches the information you are learning in the textbook. It gives the students an opportunity to have continual reinforcement from the real-world phenomenon with theory. It has been a real passion of mine, and now I have an institution where that is part of the program and it is supported from the top down. That is still pretty rare in the academic world.
Q: What do you want to teach students in the Bachelor of Innovation program?
A: The program is not designed to teach students innovation at the expense of mastery of their respective disciplines, but we are trying to teach them skills to innovate and become entrepreneurs. These skills can be used in for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. The students will have to be able to communicate their thoughts and concerns to people in other disciplines and be able to engage in dialogue with them. They will learn how to balance their respective skills in ways that complement each other.
Q: What is the most important concept you can teach your students?
A: My measure of success for a class is if a student can come back a year later and tell me that the class had the most practical value. We fill students with so much information that we are doing well if they remember 10 percent of that. I want to be able to leverage the class material so students understand how to use it in everyday situations. That is already happening at UCCS in the Bachelor of Innovation program.
Q: What was the subject of your doctoral dissertation?
A: I examined how the Internet has changed the travel agent industry for customers, travel agents, the news media, investors and suppliers. I looked at whether the travel agency business is still viable and found it is making a bit of resurgence after a decade of tough times — the average revenue per agent has been increasing for the past two years. My next study will be on the newspaper industry, which has been impacted dramatically by the Internet. I also have authored a paper that will be published in January in the Academy of Management Journal that is a follow-up study on how Eugene, Ore., resurrected its identity as “Track Town, USA.” I was interested in how a group of organizations with conflicting interests — the University of Oregon, the convention and visitors bureau in Eugene and Nike — came together to sponsor the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in 2008 and again this year. We got to sit in organizing meetings for this year’s trials, watch it all unfold and do a lot of data collection.
Q: What type of projects would you like to pursue at UCCS?
A: I am interested in opportunities to work with the U.S. Olympic Committee on management and organizing tactics. They are a great resource here in Colorado Springs and it is phenomenal how they are able to organize the manpower every two years for the Olympic Games. I also was a judge for the Sports and Outdoor Recreation Business Plan Competition. The quality of the applicants this year was much higher than the first year. There is tremendous potential for this industry in Colorado Springs as a headquarters location for businesses in that industry or a place for businesses in that industry to start up and open. I am excited about the opportunity to keep building the competition and the industry here.
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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