Associate professor of management Farooq Sheikh teaches a rigorous Production & Operations Management course which serves to teach students about looking at business problems from an analytical perspective. Sheikh has taught this course since graduate school, and his passion for the material and his students shines through in the classroom.
“You can’t always give equally important attention to every feature of a business problem. Some features will distract you more than others. But if you are able to look at them holistically and frame it in the right way so that you can make a smart decision in an unbiased, objective matter, that’s a good skill to have because most of the things you will be doing in life will be something of that nature,” Sheikh said. “You will always be extracting yourself from the real context and thinking abstractly and defining your strategies so that you can get the best outcome from it.”
Known to students as POM, this is a required course for business students. The two prerequisites are Business Economics and Quantitative Methods, which lay the foundations of statistics needed for a career in business.
Sheikh emphasizes the importance of thoroughly understanding statistical concepts and urges students to avoid merely memorizing in his classes.
“I think students are fearful. It’s sad that our students fear things like losing their financial aid because then they aren’t able to walk the path of real learning because in real learning, you make mistakes and you learn to correct mistakes,” Sheikh said. “That’s how you learn the best. If you’re afraid of making mistakes, you will never fully learn what you need to learn.”
Sheikh employs an engaging teaching style to maintain his students’ attention and participation. For this reason, he avoids using slides to present his material and instead explains topics on a whiteboard.
“I like to pursue what is called ‘problem-based teaching.’ I want my students to be participative and to be engaged in the process of unfolding the topic as it goes,” Sheikh said. “I want my thoughts to be synced with what I write, and my thoughts should connect with the thoughts of my students so that they can follow along with me as I unfold the topic.”
Sheikh commends Geneseo students for their intelligence and drive. Because of this, he demands a lot from his students in hopes that they will one day see the value in his course.
“POM is a course that students sometimes dread a little bit, I don’t know why. Primarily because I insist a lot on rigor and you know, it’s very easy to please students,” Sheikh said. “But pleasing students isn’t the point, teaching students is the point. They should go out into the world and they should look back and feel that college has prepared them very well. I teach my course from that point of view, that they go out into the world and find value for it.”
While Sheikh hopes to stimulate his students intellectually, he genuinely wants to equip his students with the tools and skills needed for a successful career in business.
“You don’t build careers by getting good grades through memorization. You build good careers because you understand things and can think creatively because you truly understand the concepts you learn,” Sheikh said.
If you enjoy being challenged and have a desire to learn the ins and outs of analyzing complex business problems, POM is an excellent course offered each semester. Sheikh’s brilliance and compassion for his students fosters a motivating learning environment where you will learn valuable lessons beyond theory.