Faculty Highlight

Bringing Reality into the Classroom

The new College of Business at McMullen Hall will have flexible and dynamic learning spaces, but more importantly, will have faculty with those same characteristics that will guide and prepare our students for the contemporary workplace.

Tom Hosmanek

Tom Hosmanek is an adjunct faculty member in the Sales Program

When Tom Hosmanek retired from a 33-year career at Modern Woodmen of America, he went back to school. His classroom experience while pursuing a certificate in Non-Profit Management at the University of Iowa was a bit of a surprise. "The classroom was a lot different from when I went to school," Hosmanek said. "Students wearing hats, eating in class, taking notes on laptops and sometimes watching videos!"

All of these things helped Tom prepare for his "second chapter", teaching basic and advanced Sales classes at St. Ambrose.

"Two things I learned pretty quickly about our students," he said. "They don't have enough life experience to be aware of what they need to know in order to sell. Yet you have to respect them. If you show them the right way through experiences in and out of classes, they'll get it, and they'll want to learn more."

What Hosmanek knew right away was that "book smarts" alone were not only what was needed to succeed in sales. Based on his experience, he knew he could bring examples from real life to be a true resource for St. Ambrose students.

To start, there are the practical aspects. In the course Professional Practices in Sales "we're not teaching sales but rather how to be in the sales business," said Hosmanek. "How to be in business for yourself, even if you are employed by someone else." Also, working with Associate Professor Joe Miller, the introductory course, Sales Principles, was rewritten to bring in more practical knowledge and experiences for the students.

"In every business, nothing happens until somebody sells something," said Tom. "We teach our students how to sell something and to learn the art of persuasion."

And what is the key to persuasion? "The biggest thing I learned in a sales career is how to listen," said Hosmanek. "Everybody thinks sales is all about talking. It's really about listening, and then from what your hear, it's critical thinking. How do you put the facts together and come up with a strategy? When you've got the strategy to solve a problem, then it's persuasion. "

"We want to give our students a leg up." Hosmanek continued. "By providing an experiential education, with in-class role-plays and outside projects with employers, they'll know more about how things work out there and be comfortable with the workplace before they get there."

To show the students how far they have come, he uses surveys at the beginning and at the end of each semester. The students rate their performance and the growth of their knowledge and skills base themselves.

"We teach them how to do things with demonstrated outcomes," Tom continued. "We let them know they'll be different at the end of this class. That's a huge benefit."

The new College of Business at McMullen Hall will have flexible and dynamic learning spaces, but more importantly, will have faculty with those same characteristics that will guide and prepare our students for the contemporary workplace.


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