Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Edwards endorses taking risks in business, life

Christopher Edwards’ resume paints the profile of a successful businessman who has founded, run and saved countless companies.

It shows a breadth of knowledge in multiple industries — from medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to telecommunications and finance. It details published titles and multiple volunteer commitments.

It does not, however, reveal Edwards’ more bohemian side.  The man who rode a motorcycle all over the world, taking free rides on Shell Oil tankers or paying for his bike as “baggage” when he traveled around Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Jamaica, Panama, Sri Lanka and the U.S.

A teacher in University College’s management technology program and winner of DU’s 2006 Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award, Edwards says he’s had such a multi-faceted professional and personal life because he never decided on a career and was never afraid of risks.

“I had great role models in my parents,” he says. “I was born in London during World War II. When Hitler started to bomb London, we evacuated to another town. My mother was an educator and she took a bold step: She started a school based on the German education system, which was not very popular right after the war, as you can imagine.”

Edwards says the school was a success and his father played a major supporting role to his mother.

“They were ahead of their time,” he says. “In my head, I always had this vision of my mother as an entrepreneurial spirit.  I think that’s where I get it.”

Professionally, Edwards has served as president or vice president of companies such as Intermed, Ram Electronics Corp., Teledyne, Ohmeda Monitoring Systems and Pfizer. For the past several years, he’s been consulting for Avaya, Corporate Express, Lucent Technologies and Merrill Lynch.

“I decided to start consulting when I had climbed up the corporate ladder and realized that I felt trapped,” he says. “I had so many skills that I wasn’t using.”

At the same time, he realized that he liked teaching. He earned a master’s degree in management from Regis University, then began teaching as a University College adjunct professor.

“I went back to school so that I could at least understand the theoretical stuff behind what I was doing and all the mistakes I’d made,” Edwards says.

But Edwards is serious about his role as teacher.

“I set high standards in my classroom,” he says. “I think I appeal to students who really want to learn, not to the ones who are just looking for an A.

“I want to teach for many more years,” he says. “I can teach online courses from India, England, Japan, Canada … Generally speaking, I don’t miss a beat.”

Jack Parran, who will earn a master’s degree in technology management next year, has taken three classes with Edwards and agrees he’s a “tough teacher.”

“He’s demanding,” Parran says. “But when I finish his classes, I walk away with a lot of good information. I’m at an age when, while I like to get good grades, my intent is to get a good education. I’d rather walk away with a B and learn a lot than with an A and not learn much.”

Parran says that Edwards’ strengths are his experience and his demeanor.

“He’s English, but he’s not stuffy. He’s really friendly,” Parran says. “He maintains control of the class simply because he’s a very interesting gentleman. He has a lot of experience, so people want to hear what he’s saying.”

This article originally appeared in The Source, December 2006.

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