Always Seeking out New Adventures
PROVO, Utah – Oct 08, 2021 – After spending most of his time as an undergraduate student preparing for law school, Kurt Herrmann received surprising inspiration to change career paths. This sudden shift in plans started a long road through marketing, entrepreneurship, business consulting, and ultimately to the BYU Marriott School of Business as an adjunct professor of management.
Herrmann initially planned to graduate from BYU with a degree in English while taking prelaw classes. “My life goal was to go to law school, but right after I was accepted to a law program, I experienced an undeniable impression from above that said, ‘This isn’t what you’re supposed to do.’ I was left in a quandary because I had no plan B,” Herrmann says. Feeling confused about where his life was supposed to go, he decided to stay at BYU for an extra semester in hopes of finding a replacement career path.
During what he called his “bonus semester,” Herrmann took a marketing class and instantly fell in love with the field. “I knew after taking that class that marketing was the right thing for me,” he continues. “While I still graduated in English, I discovered a new passion with marketing, which became the launching point for my entire career.” After finally graduating in 1984, Herrmann started working in the marketing division at Bonneville International, a broadcast media company located in Salt Lake City.
Herrmann’s unusual divergence to marketing was emblematic of the path his professional career would take for the rest of his life. He frequently seeks out new and exciting opportunities whenever he can. After working at Bonneville International for a few years, Herrmann decided to try his hand in entrepreneurship. He started a marketing agency called Bennett-Allen Associates, which he grew into a successful firm. After that experience, he was part of the founding executive team for Morningstar, the investment ratings and research firm in Chicago. Herrmann’s current venture is his own business consulting firm, Periscope Systems, which specializes in information services.
Despite all of the excitement that comes with starting several different companies, Herrmann felt grateful to settle down in Utah County and establish consistency in his life. At that time, he also started thinking about how to complement his work as a professional. “I reached a point in my career where I had some flexibility. I connected with some people who I knew at BYU Marriott, and they asked me if I’d be interested in joining as an adjunct professor. I thought, ‘What an awesome opportunity,’” he says. Herrmann has been teaching classes in strategy and marketing since 2012.
Herrmann says returning to BYU was a no-brainer. He appreciates teaching but is also fond of the opportunity to be involved with the university and its students outside of the classroom. Some of his favorite BYU moments include supporting BYU’s football team and the time he spent as an ecclesiastical leader for many BYU students. “I love the spirit of the university and the focus we have on the gospel,” Herrmann explains. “I love the people and the entire BYU experience. For over 40 years the university has been an integral part of life for me and my family.”
Since beginning his teaching career at BYU Marriott, Herrmann has recognized the synergies between his professional work and interacting with students. “I enjoy immensely the opportunity to teach, but I also love learning from the students. Being a professor is my top priority,” he adds. Herrmann says he often applies the lessons he learns from his students to his work outside the classroom.
Herrmann tries to return the favor by helping his students learn from his abundance of experience in the business world. His favorite experiential learning method is to run business simulations that are designed to help students practice problems they will use in their careers, with many of the exercises based on Herrmann’s personal experience. “The simulations I run rigorously challenge students, which is part of the learning process. I try to simulate real life business scenarios. Sometimes, life has you jump in, fail as you learn, and figure out problems along the way,” he says.
The principle of jumping in and figuring out problems is behind Herrmann’s latest business move, which also doubles as a hobby. He recently acquired The Cluff House, a historic home in Provo originally built in 1879, and currently works on restoring the building with his wife, Keri. “I have no experience in restoring Victorian-era homes, but I love the challenge. Trying to find parts and combining the experience with history has been fun,” Herrmann says.
Herrmann still tends to gravitate towards new adventures, but he appreciates the stability he has found amid change during his time at BYU Marriott. “The business world is constantly changing, and I love the challenge of adapting to change,” he says. “Teaching at BYU Marriott and having a connection between my classroom and my work has truly been a blessing.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller