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Employee Spotlight

Intention Turned to Action

When Aaron Miller talks to students about success in business, he says that future business leaders should focus less on climbing the corporate ladder and more on creating a positive impact in the world. As a teaching professor for the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics, Miller equips students with the skills they need to put their ideas into action in an ever-changing business world.

Aaron Miller stands in a field with his wife and four sons
Aaron Miller and his family.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Miller.

Though Miller is now an enthusiastic professor in the MPA program, he didn’t always have his heart set on teaching. Miller planned to be a lawyer. Then he decided to pursue an MPA degree in addition to his concurrent enrollment at BYU’s Reuben J. Clark Law School.

Seventeen years after being asked to teach his first class, he’s still teaching MPA students. “After graduating with my MPA, the program asked me to come back and teach a nonprofit law and finance class,” Miller says. “I loved teaching more than I thought I would.”

One of Miller’s favorite aspects of teaching is giving students new skills to use after graduation. “Our students come away with a really rich skill set,” Miller says proudly. “They have quantitative, qualitative, leadership, and communication skills that help them go into the world to have a positive impact.”

Miller continues, “I absolutely love our students. I think they are some of the best people in the world.” In—and around—the world is exactly where Miller’s students are, as evidenced by the photos adorning his office. Previous students continue to send Miller updates in their lives and careers, such as wedding announcements and photos of them at their current jobs.

He hopes his students will make the world a better place through the actions they take in their careers. “What I want for them is to have more reach to find more job opportunities where they can really have a deep impact,” Miller explains. “That’s what they want too.”

A cartoon-style sticker of Miller that says, "How to Help"
Miller has a personalized sticker.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Miller.

Although students want to perform good deeds in their careers, Miller knows that it can be hard for students to know where to start. “One of my skills is helping people bridge the gap between their good intentions and their good actions,” Miller says. “We all want to help, but a lot of us fall short for reasons that aren’t because we lack good intentions. It’s because we’re lacking skills to translate intentions to actions.”

Moving forward Miller hopes that his students will drive change in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. “Traditionally we’ve had a nonprofit sector full of do-gooders and a business sector full of profit maximizers,” he says. “Over the past 20 years, these two sectors have been blending.” Miller wants his MPA students to go into their careers to help merge the gap so more professionals care about making a helpful impact, no matter what type of organization.


Written by Maggie Olsen