Michael Owens


Assistant Dean and Accounting Lecturer

Michael Owens

"I began teaching as an adjunct professor while I was still in business, and found that I really enjoyed working with students, particularly bringing real-world experiences to the classroom."

Michael Owens is the Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at UTC. He has over 30 years of experience in business and enjoys sharing his real-world learnings with students.

Degrees held:

  • MBA — Loyola of Maryland
  • BS in Accounting — University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Career highlights:

Higher education is a second career for me after spending over 30 years in business. I started my career as a CPA with Ernst & Young, one of the original "Big 8" accounting firms, followed by roles as CFO, COO and ultimately President of a large marketing company. I gained a lot of experience in both large and small businesses, public and private.

Why did you start teaching?

I began teaching as an adjunct professor while I was still in business, and found that I really enjoyed working with students, particularly bringing real-world experiences to the classroom. When I was able to retire relatively early from business, I was very interested in spending more time in higher education.

What's the best advice that you ever received?

I was fortunate to be able to work with some very talented people during my career and was able to learn from each of them. But the one piece of advice that stands out for me was from the Chairman of the Board of the company I joined when I left public accounting. His advice was about maintaining the right balance in your personal and professional life and remembering the importance of family.

What's the best advice that you could give your students?

I would share the advice from my mentor I mentioned above about maintaining the right balance in your personal and professional life and remembering the importance of family. I have found that this helps keep one grounded.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

That's a tough question. Every business person should read the classic management books by Peter Drucker. It is amazing how enduring these concepts are. But if I had to choose one book, it would be The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen at Harvard. This speaks to the disruptions all businesses must be prepared to face today.

What qualities make someone particularly successful in the profession in which you teach?

My teaching discipline is financial accounting within the broader field of business. Accounting requires strong technical skills, but the most important quality for success is a strong ethical grounding as the basis for decision making.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that people in the profession face today?

The investment community tends to be very short-sighted and focuses too much on each quarter's earnings. This places a lot of pressure on company executives to meet or beat expectations. The accounting profession is challenged with being accurate and consistent in reporting and avoiding the trap of bending the rules to make this quarter's numbers look better.

How do you see online learning affecting the future of education?

Online learning is having a profound impact on higher education. I think the greatest impact is the greater level of accessibility provided by online programs, at a very high level of quality that equals or exceeds that available in traditional classrooms. Allowing professionals the flexibility to complete advanced degrees on their own schedule within their busy personal and professional lives is a game changer.

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