Dr Herb de Vries
‘Teaching is a vital part of being an academic, and the most exciting,’ says Dr Herb de Vries, who lectures in Management at UC. ‘The face-to-face contact with students and staff is what I like most about working here.’
In his teaching, Herb’s aim is to engage students and give them tools for continuous, life-long learning. ‘My approach is to integrate theory and practical experience. I have a commercial background, having spent 20 years as an owner/manager of a manufacturing company, and know the value of knowledge accumulation and continuous learning. I also draw heavily on my experience teaching at the College of Education.’
Herb also believes in ‘shared learning’. ‘It is important to apply this philosophy of continuous learning to my own situation: to constantly reflect on my own teaching methods, to learn from my students, and to remain informed through research so I can grow as a lecturer.’
Herb’s research interests are in the field of management practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and minority entrepreneurship.
He admits that one of the biggest teaching challenges he faces is connecting with his students when they number over 1100. ‘It is difficult to engage all students on a one-on-one basis in such a large teaching environment, but I believe it is still important for students to feel they have a connection to me at an individual level. I attempt to create that connection through a number of delivery techniques, including quizzes and discussions, by sharing my personal experiences in class and by being approachable outside class time. I constantly refresh the course material by searching for news articles and movie clips that can be directly related to the course topics for that week, in an attempt to bring the theory to life.
‘I have high expectations of my students, but I’ve found they are willing and able to achieve when given encouragement and support. I hope my teaching pushes them to achieve outside their comfort zones and gives them the right tools for their future careers.’
Away from his teaching and research, Herb enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He also has a passion for photography and travel, ‘which seem to go hand-in-hand’, and enjoys cycling, basketball and ‘the occasional round of social golf with friends’.