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Darla Moore School of Business

Professor incorporates world exploration into strategic management classes

February 27, 2018

Some people travel to experience other cultures. Some people travel because it's the thing to do. Some people travel to find themselves. Some people travel just because they can.

"I can go places that you can't go here. You can't do these things here, and you can't take a picture of it. You can't describe these places to people. You just can't."

Phil Bartlett has been an adjunct management professor at the Moore School for 20 years now, but in the last few years, his extensive traveling has earned him a couple other titles as well.

In 2015, he became a national member of the Explorers Club, a professional society that encourages scientists and explorers to basically go out into the world and do what hasn't been done before. Some of the better-known members include Neil Armstrong, Jacques Piccard and Edmund Hillary.

Last year, Bartlett became the chair for the Greater Piedmont Chapter, the largest of the 26 chapters worldwide. He also just became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, which was created in 1830 to essentially meet the need to fill the map. Members such as David Livingstone, Sir Henry Stanley and Robert Scott traveled extensively and mapped out the world in the process.

"It's an honor," he says of receiving these titles. "The fact that I've made it to that point, I've reached that pinnacle — it's the highest I can go. My name is listed with names that I really don't deserve to be next to because I haven't achieved what they achieved, but I would have if I could have."

Over the course of his lifetime, Bartlett has visited 108 countries, where he's done "a lot of crazy climbs and hikes," and he has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

"I don't know if it's for adrenaline or if it's just the fact that it's there and I can go do it," he says. "You just know that around the next corner, you're going to see something that the majority of people on earth have never seen before."

Bartlett says he likes exploring not just because of the things you see, but also because of the people you meet.

"People are the same all over the world," he says. "They want the same things — they want their kids to get an education, they want food, they want to keep the lights on, they want to be safe. It's inspiring."

He brings his cultural expertise into his strategic management classes in an effort to give as many students that hands-on experience as he can. Instead of using a textbook, he brings in real businesses with real problems in order to challenge his students to create the best business plans possible.

"It works, it's fun, it's real-life and I think they enjoy it," Bartlett says.

His favorite part of teaching is "watching students grow" and helping them realize that there's more to life than what you learn in the classroom.

"It's not about the degree," he says. "The degree does not define who you are. It's just a piece of the process, and I like being a part of that process."

Bartlett's next adventure will be visiting Morocco in May to hike part of the High Atlas Mountains, the highest mountain range in Northern Africa.

By Madeleine Vath