Paul N. Friga, Ph.D., Class of 1988, recently shared his thoughts on how Alex P. Keaton and Saint Francis of Assisi inspired his love for business and a passion for mission-based strategy in an article published in
The University of North Carolina Gazette.
Dr. Friga graduated magna cum laude with a double degree in
management and accounting from Saint Francis. Today, he is the Clinical Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School. His research interests include strategic problem
solving and project management in consulting, personalized knowledge transfer, intuition and entrepreneurship.
He also serves his alma mater as a valued member of the Saint Francis University Board of Trustees.
Excerpt from "Agents of Change" published by the UNC
Paul Friga, credits
actor Michael J. Fox for igniting his interest in business. Or more precisely,
Alex P. Keaton, the brash, pro-business prodigy Fox played on the ‘80s
sitcom Family Ties.
The root of the show’s
humor was Keaton’s attempt to explain his passion for business to his
befuddled, ex-hippie parents.
The show opened a
window in Friga’s imagination into the world of business that his parents could
not – his father was a psychology professor and community college president;
his mother, a nurse turned social worker.
His interest in
strategy comes from a totally different source. In 1984, after reading The
Perfect Joy of St. Francis, a book from his mother, Friga was moved by the
manner in which St. Francis gave up his wealthy, worldly possessions to pursue
a mission for the poor and underserved. This led to a decision to pursue his
education at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
It was in this small
college town, two hours from Pittsburgh, where Friga was able to connect his
passion for business, desire for impact and appreciation of mission-centered
That connection was
forged in a class called Management by Objectives taught by Randy Frye, his
biggest mentor and motivator in college. In the class, Frye explained how
companies think about the future they want to create, then work backward from
that vision to set measurable objectives and targets to reach it.
“A light bulb went off
in my head that I could employ that same process to me as an individual, and
that meant I had to figure out what my mission was going to be, just like St.
Francis did,” Friga said.
Before that class
ended, he knew. “It became very clear to me what my mission in life should be,
which was to combine my love of education and my appreciation for business to
positively impact as many people as possible.”
Read the full article
Shields School of Business at SFU