Back to the Classroom - Award-winning alum shares his experience with students

Before he joined the faculty at Purdue’s Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business in 2021 as a lecturer, Dave Randich led a successful corporate career as president of MasterBrand Cabinets, a subsidiary of Fortune Brands Home and Security and the largest cabinet manufacturer in North America.

Randich, who earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Purdue in 1983, had already developed a notable career as an international business leader, living and working in Europe and Asia for 14 years and leading four global businesses in the consumer durables/building products sectors. He received the school’s Business Leadership Award in 2023.

“Working internationally gave me great career opportunities because when you're overseas, you’re really thrown into a difficult environment where many others would balk,” he says. “You also have a lot of freedom because you're so far from the head office, so the learning experiences are accelerated. You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder.”

When he retired in 2019, Randich was looking for a new challenge, and several people said they thought he’d be a good teacher. “I felt my leadership and international experience would translate well into the classroom, so I started by speaking in the Executive Forum and as a guest lecturer in a couple courses,” he says. “When I received an offer to join the faculty, I was very pleased and accepted immediately.”

Randich works to bring real-life experience into the classroom. “Some of my best learning experiences as an undergraduate were with instructors who could reflect on their academic and professional careers,” he says. “I spend a lot of time talking about the mistakes I made and what I learned from them."

“People often talk about management as being an art or a science, but I see it as a craft to be passed on to the next generation.”

But it’s not all about telling stories. “One of the things I focus on is executive communication and the ability to make a compelling presentation to customers or boards,” Randich says. “Those skills are vital to career success and can’t be stressed enough.”

Randich teaches three courses, and one of them — MGMT 332, Problem Solving in the Business World — engages students to work in cross-functional teams to analyze a business challenge, develop recommendations, and persuade decision makers. The class includes product development for a commercial client, giving students real business experience and the opportunity for professional integration.

“Learning to solve these problems through the use of core business skills with real-world relevance makes these students more valuable to employers,” he says. “We go through the process of researching the market, developing and launching the product, sourcing it, managing capacity, and optimizing the profit and loss statement.”

Randich was taught those lessons firsthand during his 36 years in the business world. “I saw my career as continuously learning from hands-on experience, from how to work with people and provide direction, leadership, and support to how to set up business plans and strategies that will be successful,” he says.

Today, as a teacher, Randich is also drawing inspiration from his former professors at Purdue. “People often talk about management as being an art or a science, but I see it as a craft to be passed on to the next generation,” he says. “My favorite professors were interested in the students as individuals and genuinely seemed to care that they were learning something important. That’s what I aspire to.”

By Eric Nelson

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