Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
I’m Dr. Chuck Bamford. I led both M&A and corporate training groups for twelve years prior to pursuing my Ph.D. I’m an Adjunct Professor of Strategy at Duke University (Fuqua) and the University of Notre Dame (Mendoza). I’ve taught at universities in Scotland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Previously I was a professor at the University of Richmond and Texas Christian University among others. Over the past 25 years, I’ve been honored with 22 Professor of the Year awards, including 12 Executive MBA Professor of the Year Awards. I was named a Noble Foundation Fellow in Teaching Excellence and a Poets & Quants EMBA Favorite Professor.
I earned my B.S. degree at the University of Virginia (McIntire School of Commerce), an MBA at Virginia Tech (Finance) and a Ph.D. in Strategy & Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee.
I’m the author of seven books. These include The Strategy Mindset and The Strategy Mindset 2.0, as well as two of the market-leading strategy textbooks used in both undergraduate and graduate programs around the world. I’m a regular speaker at conferences, trade shows, corporate events, and conventions.
What exactly does your company do?
Bamford Associates, LLC, is a strategy consulting firm that’s focused on the design and implementation of a compelling set of competitive advantages. We’ve worked with 120-plus organizations over the past seven years spanning several industries — manufacturing, service, non-profit, government — good strategy works regardless of industry.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
I had a series of strokes in 2013 that triggered a re-look at what I wanted to do with my life. I was an academic. I was a full professor with tenure in an endowed chair. I really enjoyed the teaching, but wanted to get closer to my goal when I first decided to get a Ph.D.
When I was in the industry, I was continually amazed to find that there was existing research that businesses simply didn’t know existed and it would have helped to know how to use that research. I wanted to get a Ph.D. to improve the practice of strategy in organizations. I was certainly doing that with my research (18 published research articles) but didn’t think I was getting to current business leaders.
I decided to leave my tenured position and form a consulting firm. As one of the designers of what is known as the Practical Strategy Approach, I worked directly with companies to help them not only learn the strategy process but also be able to put it into immediate action.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
I really wish someone had suggested that I look forward and ask the question, “Where do you want your life to be in 10 years — professionally, personally, emotionally and financially?” Since I was in my early 30s I’ve done this and tracked how I progress each year. It’s made an amazing difference!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My life was changed by Dr. Dorothy Seyler at Northern Virginia Community College. I was not a strong student in high school and was unable to get into a four-year college when I graduated back in 1977. I went full-time to NOVA with the idea that I would get an Associates Degree and then transfer into the University of Virginia (hopefully into the McIntire School of Commerce). I failed my first paper in my freshman English class! Dr. Seyler told me quite simply that I couldn’t write and offered to work with me as much as I was willing to do extra to learn how to write. I took two more of her courses, and she changed my life. By the time I left her classes, I could write. Because of her I gained confidence that I could really accomplish my goals.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
Oh my! I have no idea! I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities. I’m very pleased to be where I am. If I were to try and narrow this down, it would probably be earning a Ph.D. A counselor in high school told me that I would never go to college. He may have been reading the tea leaves of my life at the time, or maybe he was trying to get me to change the course of my life. Regardless, I’ve never forgotten it and I found that each degree I earned was really precious.
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