All companies must cater to the needs of their customers, but Monmouth College marketing professor Terry Gabel says that sustained, long-term success among the most successful of organizations necessitates a focus also on employees, investors, suppliers and others who have an interest in the operations of the organization. It’s a principle he calls “stakeholder marketing.”
This semester, Gabel is taking the stakeholder concept to heart through two semester-long
classroom projects involving “three key stakeholders of the college” – students, alumni and potential employers.
Serving as his inspiration and resource is 1986 Monmouth College graduate Roger Well, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ENFOS, the world’s leader in software that helps industries and government agencies manage environmental risk. Well – a stakeholder as both an alumnus and a potential employer – returned to campus last month as a guest lecturer in the college’s Alumni Distinguished Visitors program, but his visit went beyond simply telling his personal success story to students.
Gabel is using Well’s company as the basis for strategic consulting projects in the two “capstone” courses he’s teaching – “Strategy and Structure” and “International Business Strategy” – which are for business and international business majors, respectively.
“A capstone course provides a recap or a summary or extension of many of the different elements that students have learned while they are here,” Gabel explained. “How I am teaching them, specifically, is as preparation for work in the corporate world after they graduate.”
Gabel’s capstone classes are studying ENFOS, starting with company profiles and, most recently, preparing a structural analysis that answered such questions as “What do we know?” and “What do we need to ask?”
Well’s visit was a chance for students to ask those questions face-to-face, and the COO had a few questions in return, as he interviewed four students for a full-time software business consultant/analyst position with the company. The position, which begins in the summer, will be based out of the company’s Naperville office and offers a starting annual salary as high as $50,000.
“All four candidates represented themselves and Monmouth very well,” he said. “The logistics were handled very well by Marnie Dugan and the staff at the Wackerle Career and Leadership Center. I hope that other alumni take advantage of the opportunity to interview and hire from Monmouth.”
In Gabel’s “International Business Strategy” class, the students are investigating future growth strategies for ENFOS. One strategy, said Gabel, would be to perform additional services for ENFOS’ current clients, which include British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Pacific Gas & Electric, 7-Eleven and Sunoco. Another growth strategy is finding new corporate or governmental clients to work with, especially international ones.
His “Strategy and Structure” students are focusing their efforts on helping ENFOS reduce its sales cycle time.
“These are very complex sales that can take up to two years to complete,” explained Gabel. “ENFOS works with huge companies, and selling to them requires an understanding of every one of their complex projects. Roger would like to cut that two-year cycle in half, and we’re trying to see if we can help him with that.”
“Professor Gabel had his classes well prepared and several of the students offered very solid ideas on topics they have been studying,” praised Well. “I was very impressed with the level of interest in my professional journey as a Monmouth alum and in ENFOS. I told the business students that the problem statements presented to them by Professor Gabel are real issues and exactly the same ones that our leadership team takes on. They were multi-faceted challenges with sometimes, complex solutions.”
Well couldn’t recall having industry leaders speak to classes during his student days.
“For students, particularly those getting ready to graduate or move along to graduate school, they really need to hear from practitioners,” he said. “This helps them connect the dots on their academic studies to the business world. And I think it adds an extra dimension if they know you were a student at Monmouth, just like they are.”
“The critical thinking skills that students attending a liberal arts college are expected to sharpen are really put to the test when working on a real-world project, such as the one with ENFOS,” said Karolina Korzec, a senior from Algonquin. “I felt fortunate being able to interact with Roger Well about the strategy and sales sequences that ENFOS uses for its business. It was a great example of business concepts taught in a classroom applied to a real-world example.”
Well also met with students in Gabel’s other classes – “Principles of Marketing” and “Midwest Entrepreneurs,” the latter of which aptly describes Well’s career. A product of Lewistown High School, he first succeeded professionally in geology, following up the bachelor’s degree he received from Monmouth with a master’s degree from the University of Toledo. But after a few years on the geology side of the environmental industry, Well earned an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and switched to the business side, helping to start ENFOS in 2000. One of the company’s slogans is “$6.5 trillion of global environment liabilities doesn’t manage itself.”
Well said his company is part of the growing SaaS (software as a service) marketplace. In addition to providing environmental liability software that is currently unmatched in the market, he gave the students a glimpse into another part of the formula that has made ENFOS successful.
“Most of our research and development costs were up front. There’s maintenance and upgrades, but what we’re mainly doing now is selling the same product over and over,” with an average new contract netting more than $500,000.
“I’m a capitalist,” Well continued. “I believe our company has a good product, it’s a good service and we have good people. I’m lucky. I wake up every day loving what I do. My advice to you is to do something you’re passionate about. I loved my major, and I’ve loved my career path. It’s treated me very well.”