Randy Raggio, assistant professor of marketing, begins his Marketing Management (MBA 520) course in a slightly unconventional manner—he presents his students with numbers.

“I rock them immediately with something that’s totally unexpected, and then my hope is that I can keep them off-balance as long as possible,” he said.  

Raggio’s purposeful leaps from one subject to another are designed to increase graduate students’ big picture perspective on business.

“We address certain concepts, so when [the students] become comfortable with one aspect, we use those concepts in the next issue we study, like pricing, products or channels,” Raggio said.  “So I’m always throwing more at them. There’s never a point in business where you can say, ‘I’ve done enough.’”

Raggio received his undergraduate degree in management information systems from Southern Mississippi University.  Upon graduation, he started at Anderson (now Accenture) Consulting as a senior consultant.  His resume also boasts a position as Marketing Director at KidPower Inc., developer of the Funnoodle brand of pool toys, along with other popular toys like Little Bear.

It was not until his first marketing course in the MBA program at Vanderbilt University that he decided he had a calling for teaching the subject.  Raggio left his leadership position at KidPower to be an instructor at Belmont University, and he was later promoted to Director of the Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business.

I originally thought that I would do something so phenomenal [in the corporate world] that colleges would be begging me to come teach,” he said, “but I realized that’s not how it works.”  To keep advancing in his career, Raggio realized he would need a Ph.D., and he enrolled in The Ohio State University.

After a few years on the faculty at Louisiana State University, Raggio started at the Robins School of Business in fall 2010. His real-world experience of working in the professional business environment after his academic education enlivens his class discussions with graduate students. 

With the start of each new course, Raggio goes into the classroom with the same objective.

“I start with the basic idea of ‘What is marketing?’” he said. “I very generally define marketing as profitably bringing goods and services to market that meet customer needs and wants.”

Raggio hopes to impress upon his students that marketing cannot be put into a box.   “In every marketing class I teach, I try to demonstrate how broad a concept marketing is because it’s not just the creative aspects…it’s not just advertising…and so on, it’s much more.”

Going back to the numbers exercise he has his students complete on day one of class, he says, “I present a way of analyzing problems. It’s a perspective or a point of view, and it is simply this: in   business, we can never know what will happen. We can’t predict the future, but it is possible through some careful numbers work to do a financial analysis and determine what needs to occur for a decision to be a good decision.”

“Just because you can’t predict the future, it doesn’t mean you can’t analyze what needs to happen.  So what I try to demonstrate is that numbers work is critical and necessary and must be done well.”

Raggio has been impressed with the ability and knowledge capacity of Robins School students.  “What I’ve found is that the students that are here are able to do amazing things, and so I’ve got to continually raise the bar.” 

Therefore, when graduate students feel a sense of incompletion, they are actually catching on, according to Raggio.  “There must be a sense that there is more to do.”

Raggio hopes that, by the end of each class, he teaches students to think differently about marketing than they did before.

“The biggest motivation for me as a teacher is in understanding that change is going to happen in my students about two to five years out of the program,” he said.  “That’s where the real joy is, in recognizing that when you come out of the MBA program, your brain is wired differently than it was when you entered, and it’s fun to be part of that process.”