“How many of you have ever lost an umbrella?” Dr. Jim White asked his class of business students. Hands raised at the common experience. “What color was it?” Most said black.
Dr. White, a Pensacola Christian College business faculty member, explained that he owns a pink umbrella. “I have had this umbrella for four years, and I have no problem keeping up with it,” he said. “Why? Because in the umbrella rack with dozens of black umbrellas, I have this huge pink umbrella. In other words, it stands out, it is different. In fact, people see it and they know it is mine.” Beginning each semester with this analogy, Dr. White describes to his business students his goal of teaching them to confidently stand out in the business world.
The Joy of Selling
Before coming to PCC, Dr. Jim White had already made an impression in the business world. He had earned a Ph.D. in business administration at North Central University and held a successful business career for over 30 years. Throughout that time, he filled a variety of positions, including becoming a tax auditor and trust officer before moving into leadership roles in sales and marketing at firms such as Epiq, Rust Consulting, and Summit Insurance Services.
Unknown to Dr. White at the time, his willingness to serve and teach others would translate to the faculty position he now enjoys at PCC.
Though he loved his business positions, Dr. White also had a heart for ministry. While living in Oregon and later Virginia, he and his wife, Katrina, taught first and second grade Sunday school classes and served in church nursery. Unknown to Dr. White at the time, his willingness to serve and teach others would translate to the faculty position he now enjoys at PCC.
God started changing Dr. White’s course at an especially successful point in his career: closing a deal for Summit Insurance Services. The deal involved helping a company develop a three-to-five-year strategic plan that would enhance their employee benefits while controlling costs and increasing employee retention. “I had been doing [this] for a very long time. I loved helping people, but one day my team closed a really big deal. We were going to help a lot of people, but I wasn’t excited,” he said. “The Lord took away my joy of selling.”
Dr. White went home and told his wife about his disappointing experience. They began considering if the Lord was pointing out a new direction for their lives. “We knew the Lord must have something else in mind, so we added it to our prayer list as part of our daily devotions, and the Lord walked us down the path to come to PCC,” he explained.
Teaching Professional Distinction with Pink Umbrellas
In 2019, God called Dr. White to accept a PCC teaching position. He moved to Pensacola and immediately dove into sharing his business skills with his students. Now a practiced teacher, he approaches each class as he would a business presentation, carefully preparing and refining each lecture with clear communication. He also makes concepts practical to what his students will face in the professional business realm, giving them the skills to distinguish themselves like a pink umbrella. Dr. White meaningfully noted, “If I can’t help [students] make practical applications to the concepts I cover in lecture, then have I even helped my students learn?”
“Every class has one or more oral presentations, and every class always has video-based homework.”
The most essential practical skill Dr. White teaches his students is oral communication—a must in the business field. “You will talk in my class,” he said. “Every class has one or more oral presentations, and every class always has video-based homework.”
Good oral communication abilities are a great way for business professionals to set themselves apart. “I know that the first two rounds of job interviews [for business graduates] will be on video,” Dr. White said. “After a couple of classes with me, every student knows how to prepare for [a video] interview.”
Mastering oral communication skills has already given Dr. White’s student Wing Fujita (Sr., Japan) confidence in her future career. Because English is not her first language, she had avoided public speaking, but his classes helped her craft and perfect her speaking skills. “Thanks to [Dr. White’s] assignments, I am more comfortable expressing my opinions in class,” Wing said. “Speaking skills and confidence will definitely help me to be a better business person.”
Through these skills that push toward excellence, Dr. Jim White shows his students how to be noticeable in a “sea of sameness.” He wants them to ask, “How can they put that unique skill set to work for the Lord and in the business world?” Visually emphasizing his point, he carries his physical pink umbrella with him on PCC’s campus, reminding business students that excellence makes them stand out. “Life is about finding your pink umbrella and then using it for the Lord’s glory and your good,” Dr. White said. “Trust God, trust yourself, and take chances!”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.