Five Questions with Dan Galindau

In our Five Questions series, faculty of the University of Kansas School of Business share their insights, experiences and advice for students.

Dan Galindau pictured with students and associate professor Jane Zhao on the “Business in China” study abroad trip.

Dan Galindau is an international business lecturer at the KU School of Business.

1. What got you interested in your field, and what has been the most rewarding part of being involved in it?

International business found me. One Friday afternoon, the president of my company called me into his office and asked if I would be interested in an open position as the general manager of the company’s Malaysian operation. Saturday, my new wife and I rushed to the public library to find out where and what Malaysia was. Monday, I said yes, and he replied that the opportunity had changed to South Korea. Thus began an unplanned, 11-year professional and personal adventure working and living in Asia.

The most rewarding aspect was certainly the opportunity to experience the wonderfully diverse cultures and peoples of the Asia Pacific region. The landscapes, the cities, the foods and most importantly the fascinating and generous people who inhabit this part of our world. Those experiences and the relationships we developed there have made all the difference in the quality of mine and my wife’s lives. Also valuable was the opportunity to see our country from the viewpoints of other nations. This certainly allowed us to see some of the flaws of our nation and better understand the perceptions of people in other countries. However, after 11 years of travel and experiencing life in these many foreign countries, we returned to the U.S. more convinced than ever that we live in the greatest country in the world.

2. What is your favorite part about being a Jayhawk?

Without a doubt, it is my interactions with students. It is the only reason why I am here. It is extraordinarily refreshing to talk with all the bright intellects and eager minds that I come into contact with in my classes. They are overwhelmingly polite, curious and eager to learn not just from books, but from my experiences. I relish the challenge of maintaining courses that meet their needs and are worthy of their valuable time. It is also incredibly rewarding to assist students who come to me for advice outside the classroom with regards to career/life choices. I am gratified to still be in contact with students years after having them in class when called upon to offer career/life insights and advice.

Of course, to be associated with a great institution such as the University of Kansas is also a blessing. When I am asked what I do, it is with great pride that I am able to say I work for the University of Kansas. The look on people’s faces when I respond with that answer makes it clear to me the high regard with which everyone in this region holds this university.

3. What would see yourself doing if you weren’t a professor?

I would still be a businessman working or consulting for a company that had operations in the Asia/Pacific region. I would want to continue to leverage my past experiences in assisting domestic organizations in being successful in this very complex, yet highly attractive part of the world to do business. Continued contact with Asia is very important to me. That is one reason why I value the teaching I do in the Executive MBA program of a Chinese university each summer. It allows me to return to Asia for several weeks each year to interact with local business people there and stay current on business trends, opinions and social change in this very dynamic part of the world.

4. If you could require students to read one thing before graduation (outside of your class reading), what would it be and why?

The Constitution of the United States. It seems clear to me that most of the “grown-ups” who are currently leading our country have little or no idea what this document actually says. Call me crazy, but I feel this should be a prerequisite of anyone who votes or desires a leadership role in our government. I am quite sure that some of the students I have come into contact with at KU will one day be leaders of our state or country. The others will most certainly have a say in the future direction of both. I would like to give them a little “head start” for success in those roles.

5. What advice would you give your college self?

Relax. While planning is important, know for sure that your life will not neatly follow the plans you have set out for the next 30 years. Be open to new things and new directions (like having 2 days to decide to leave everything and everyone you know and move to a place where you know nobody and nothing about). Travel, explore and get out of your comfort zone. And look outward a little more. Be less concerned with “you”, and more concerned with the world and the people around you. I agree with Albert Einstein: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

Galindau holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and an MBA from the University of Southern California.