What I learned… Dr. David Victor

ImageDr. Victor is one of the four favorite teachers I’ve ever had — and one of the 3 I’ve had in college so far.  His candor, honesty and frankness are very refreshing.

When I was accepted into the Honors College at EMU, the head of the Honors College kept telling me “Take Victor,” “Victor is the one you want,” “Everyone likes Victor,” “You should REALLY take Victor.”   So, looking at the available classes and instructors, I said “Hmm, something is telling me to take this guy.  So… Victor?

Summer went by, and I talked to a couple of people in my department who had taken him.  “Victor’s awesome, dude.  Bit of a hardass, but awesome,” said one person.   Another echoed his sentiments.  “You’re not going to get through his class without reading the book — he sets it up that way on purpose, but if you do, and show up to class, you shouldn’t have much of a problem.”

So came the first day of school.  I met the other teachers I had that semester, which all seemed pretty okay.  The last teacher I met was Dr. Victor.

I figured out right away that I would learn more than explicit knowledge from him — one of Dr. Victor’s strong suits is he’s able to communicate a lot of tacit knowledge over the long term, that is – stuff that you can’t specifically “explain” – but you put together over the whole course.

465667_10151140665271817_1912544928_oWe did a semester-long project to satisfy the Honors portion of the class, that was worked on over the term, and then due and presented during the last meetings of the class before the Final Exam — which I think was the most enjoyable part.  Having time to actually look at the customs and culture of another nation, without the pressure of “getting it done” that comes with having an assignment due a month later is a lot more informative.

His feedback, while not only humorous sometimes, provided value and was well-received by everyone.

For instance, after we gave our presentation, we took our seats.  Dr. Victor happened to be sitting at a student desk that was next to mine — and helped answer questions that we weren’t able to — or that he felt he wanted to contribute to as well.  Being an Honors Class, people were actually interested in what other people were presenting.  Just as I had crossed my legs, someone asked “What do they mean by ‘Don’t point your feet at someone?  Do they mean like, when standing?”   Dr. Victor took this question and made a point of it:

quote-openThey mean more along the lines of sitting.  Pointing the soles of your feet at someone in the U.A.E., such as what Samuel is doing to me right now, is a sign of disrespect.  Were I an Emerati, I would be highly offended.”

Feeling foolish for a split-second, I immediately put both my feet on the ground, while everyone, including myself, laughed — but it was a point that was not only well made with practicality AND humor, but it was something that I remembered, and will continue to do so.

Another example was a little more discrete, but just as effective.  Having asked a question, I put my had up to answer it, stating something along the lines of “Well, businessmen generally prefer an atmosphere of formality and composure.”

He cocked his eyebrow, and at first, I thought he disapproved of my answer.

quote-open“By ‘Businessmen” — I assume you mean both men AND women?”


Again — a split-moment where I felt kind of stupid.  A faux-pas of epic proportion, but it’s something I’d never considered before.  I’d used the term throughout my entire professional life, and nobody had given it a second thought.  I certainly hadn’t.

While I didn’t get the best grade in his class (a “B” — his tests were tough!) — I took a lot more away from the Honors Global Business class than just being able to regurgitate print from a book.  I left with a new advisor and someone who, while mindful of your feelings — will make a point; even if it’s not what you want to hear.  He genuinely cares about what his students take away from your time together.

If you go to Eastern… take Victor.

Recommended Reading:

– International Business Communication – David A. Victor.  1997.
– Class 3 – LESCANT (kelmglobal.wordpress.com)

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