Q + A with Undergraduate Finance Professor Ken McEwan
Dr. Ken McEwan, Assistant Professor of undergraduate Finance, came to Grace College following a 32-year finance career with a global aerospace corporation. Prof McEwan’s corporate experience includes roles as Finance Director, Vice President of Finance, and Controller. He analyzed mergers and acquisitions, developed tactical plans after the September 11 terrorists’ attacks, and executed financial strategies for long-term growth and profitability.
Now that’s the kind of experience you want to learn from!
We sat down with Prof McEwan to learn more about his career and his experience teaching bachelor of finance students in the School of Business. Like all of our professors, McEwan approaches his field with a broader understanding of the world and how we relate to each other. Our conversation today started on the topic of undergraduate finance…but as we continued, we naturally ventured into topics of faith and friendship as well. Enjoy!
Q: What are some of the biggest takeaways from your 32-year finance career with a global aerospace corporation?
A: Even though I was a finance person in a large global company, building relationships was the most important part of my job and career — relationships built on trust and integrity with managers, colleagues, suppliers, customers and most importantly my team.
Secondly, as an executive of the company, especially as a finance person, I was responsible for the proper stewardship of the company’s assets. In other words, the stakeholders in the business were counting on me to watch out for their best interests. Besides eliminating waste and inefficiencies, that also meant taking calculated risks to build the business…spending money on new products, processes, and employees.
Q: What were some of the most exciting projects you were a part of during that time?
A: As a team member representing finance, I was involved in the development and introduction of the RR-300 into a Robinson helicopter and the T800 into the Comanche helicopter for the US Army. I was also involved in the development and launch of the company’s switch from many different management control systems to an enterprise management system, an ERP system from SAP. We went live with the system just before the year 2000. Most people have probably forgotten about the mad rush to change computer systems leading up to the changing millennium.
Q: How did your time with a global aerospace corporation prepare you for your role as a professor, and how does it inform the way you teach today?
A: My business experience allows me to communicate some of the real issues that businesses face. The text books really can’t address some of the nuances of working in the business environment. There are personalities and cultures and histories involved in every business and business decision. My business experiences allow me to expand the course material by bringing real business examples into the classroom and I thoroughly enjoy doing so.
Q: What do you love about teaching undergraduate finance at Grace College?
A: I love being with the younger generation and seeing both their excitement about starting their careers and their zeal for the Lord. I’m especially encouraged by the love for Jesus Christ I see in our bachelor of finance students. Grace College President Dr. Bill Katip and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Laurie Owen are both very supportive of the faculty and we appreciate their support. I also like teaching because I’m constantly being challenged by new ideas in the marketplace and in teaching as a profession. The new ideas keep me on my toes so to speak…and hopefully they keep me younger as well.
Q: In your opinion, what is the greatest strength of the School of Business?
A: I would say the biggest strength in the school of business, led by Dr. Jeff Fawcett, is that we (the faculty and staff) enjoy working together. We’re all Christ followers, and we’re all trying to do our best for the students, the School of Business, and Grace. We really do like working together, and we have respect for one another. There is an incredibly diverse pallet of real business experience among the School of Business faculty which has had tremendous benefit for the students. The greatest strength of the School of Business is the faculty and staff who have both academic credentials and profession experience. We operate as a team, and we really do care about the students. – from grace.edu