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Raza Khan, HBA ’16: Teaching beyond the cases

Mar 27, 2017

Raza Khan

Like many first-year students, Raza Khan, HBA ’16, struggled with the transition from high school to university. But there was one person Khan says he looked up to, and was always motivated by. That person was his Business 1220 instructor, Ron Hae, HBA ‘10.

Four years later, it comes full circle.

Khan is now a full-time lecturer for Business 1220, a pre-business Ivey course taught at Western University. It’s only his first year teaching, but he’s already made history. Khan just won a USC Excellence in Teaching Award – the first time since the award was established in 1995 that an Ivey lecturer has won in their first year of teaching.

A different direction

Ivey grads aren’t known to pursue teaching jobs. In his HBA2 year at Ivey, Khan was recruiting for consulting jobs before he was offered the position teaching Business 1220. Although he was excited to teach the content and introduce students to Ivey’s Case-Method Learning, Khan took the job for the opportunity to mentor students and to be someone else’s “Ron.”

“It gets me really excited to see my kids – I call them my kids, I have 200 kids,” he says. “I get to teach them life lessons and be there for them, be a mentor for them, and support them just like Ron did for me.”

When Khan isn’t in the classroom, he’s still spending time with students. He says he’s often asked to be a speaker for student club events, or judge a competition. He’s never said no.

“It’s really busy, but it’s something I appreciate doing,” Khan says. “It’s a blessing to be asked to do that. I’m only here for two years. I want to make the most of it.”

The method to the magic

Khan’s teaching style is peppered with unconventional twists. He makes sure his students understand business basics and the Case-Method Learning, but he goes beyond that to teach them about life outside the classroom.

Khan does something called “Raza’s Lesson of the Day,” where he teaches students things he says he wishes he knew in first year. The topics range from the practical, such as showing students how to use a Google Calendar, to the philosophical, including building up his students’ self esteem.

“I want them to always strive to be the best versions of themselves,” Khan says, “and to develop the mentality that ‘I never lose. I win or I learn.’”

Khan also has his students participate in “Leader of the Day,” an idea he’s inherited from Julie Gosse, HBA ’03 and MBA ’11, a pre-business faculty director. Students can volunteer to do a short, informal presentation about a leader who inspires them. This gives volunteers a casual opportunity to work on their public speaking skills and gives the rest of the class insights into leaders and how they can be more like them.

In Khan’s class, nothing is off limits. Students can come to him with questions about upcoming exams and assignments, or with problems they’re facing in their personal life.

“I mentor my students. We have a personal relationship,” he says. “A lot of my students feel comfortable coming to my office and seeking advice about how to become a better person, or how to deal with a stressful situation happening in their life, even if it’s not class related.”

A team award

The day Khan found out he was receiving the USC Excellence in Teaching Award, he went to the mall. Not to reward himself, but to buy gifts for the other lecturers he works with every day.

“It’s really a team award,” Khan says. “It highlights one lecturer, but I have a whole support system that makes me who I am. I am absolutely blessed to have the best team around me. Without my coworkers, I definitely would not have gotten this award.”

He also gives credit to his family, especially his parents.

“My parents are immigrants. They sacrificed their lives to come here,” he says. “Because of their hard work, I’ve always been motivated to work even harder because I have someone to work for. Because of my parents, I’ve become the person I am.”

When Khan’s two-year contract with Business 1220 is up, he plans on pursuing management consulting and following his passion for motivational speaking on the side.