Meet Triple Duke Eric Korn


Eric KornThree times a Duke – and more.

Eric Korn already has two degrees from JMU: his undergraduate degree in economics and his MBA; he will soon also earn his Ph.D. from JMU. And, if that’s not enough Duke experience, Korn is now teaching a marketing class in the College of Business while also working for the Office of Research and Scholarship at the University.

His passion for education and desire for personal fulfillment led him to pursue his Ph.D. through the School of Strategic Leadership Studies which is an affiliate of the College of Business. “I wanted to learn more about myself,” he recalls. “In my doctoral program I’m studying entrepreneurship, which is one of my passions.” He plans to complete the program early in 2015.

He adds, “In the doctoral program, there are different kinds of payoff. We learn how to read and write research, and the ability to decipher research. We can read the writings of the best minds in every field. If you have that ability and you’re motivated, you can find the answer to any question. That, to me, has been the most useful thing I’ve learned. It can affect and underpin every part of your personal and professional life; it’s a skill that you’ll always have, that I’ll treasure and value forever.”

In his spare time, Korn immerses himself in his new teaching job. “I’m teaching for the first time this semester. It is one of the most professionally rewarding experiences I have had.  I have a great group of seniors in my retail marketing class, and have reworked the class to focus on a balance between the practitioner side and the academic side,” he explains.

He added the class is designed like medical school, with the first half of the course focusing on book learning and the second half on real world experiences. The students need to learn the concepts, language, and trends of marketing; then the students can meet practitioners and learn how the concepts play out in the real world. Korn’s class has scheduled several business visits, where his students will have the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs from the community to learn about their retail marketing practices.  These include Shenandoah Bicycle Company, Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint, and Midatlantic Motorwerkes, a luxury car dealership. The class will also hear from two finance alums who will explain the world of financial advising through the lens of selling yourself as a service.  These businesses not only show the students how it can be done in the real world, but also provide them with valuable connections that will help in their career searches.

He says, “I could see myself making a career out of teaching. It has to be the right context, in line with my passion. Fortunately, I’ve never had to do anything that I wasn’t passionate about; I definitely want to teach – in the right capacity and the right context.”

In addition to his educational pursuits, Korn followed his entrepreneurial passion and started a company called American Firearms Training, providing firearms safety training.  In starting his own business, he says his graduate school experience paid off immediately: “Many of the skills you learn in a business school are valuable, most of your applied learning is on the job. During my master’s program, professors taught me trends and tricks that are incredibly valuable; I was turning them into money that night at my business.”

Over time, Korn felt that the bottom line of his company just wasn’t enough for him personally; something was missing. He didn’t feel like the company was giving back to the community. “I decided to put the payment portal after the class. People who just wanted to learn about firearm safety could take the class for free. They would pay only if they were getting a concealed carry permit. My hope is to make a difference. Gun safety is a passion of mine; too many people die from careless use of guns. Offering this free class is my way to make a difference. Last year we gave away 4,000 classes. I feel that we are having a national impact.”

When asked what was so compelling about JMU, Korn replies, “For business people, the most important determinants of success are mentorship and collaboration; I’ve found both at JMU. During my MBA program, my mentor was former CoB Dean Bob Reid. I learned a tremendous amount from him. One of the things a mentor gives you is the ability to see the soft skills that people maintain that make them successful. I spent two hours a week with Bob, observing and learning. I saw what made him successful; you can’t learn something like that in a classroom.”

He believes it is the environment at JMU that have made him successful, “Many other folks across the university have helped me over my experiences. Associate Vice Provost of Research and Scholarship, Ken Newbold, is my strongest professional champion. We are actually collaborating on some research that aims to change the way entrepreneurs are educated and programs are assessed.”

Furthermore, “I’ve always felt that there were people at JMU willing and able to mentor well. Their advice and counsel will make the difference between a so-so career, and one that takes off. This community has been very supportive; one of the biggest value adds.”

Korn is looking forward to the next chapter in his life, when he can pull together all his JMU experiences, networking, and learning opportunities. His success at JMU has paved the way for a successful career, where he can make the difference in his profession, his community, and his life.

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Published: Monday, December 1, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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