Leonard Leadership Scholar Class of 2003
- Assistant Professor, University of Tampa
- IT Auditor, KPMG
- PhD, Management Information Systems, University of Georgia (2013)
- BBA, Management Information Systems, University of Georgia (2003)
Chris Maurer is one of the 995 values-based, impact-driven leaders that ILA has been developing over the past decade. He has had quite a career journey. He was an IT Auditor at KPMG and the Director of Internal Controls at TRX. He also earned a PhD at UGA and coached the UGA Women’s Club Water Polo Team. Currently, Chris is a Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Tampa. Through all of these career changes, his driving motivation has been a passion for teaching through empowerment.
Chris discovered this passion when he was overseeing a summer intern at KPMG. At first, he was discouraged—he found the duty required longer hours and redoing much of the intern’s work. However, after only a few weeks of Chris’s guidance, the intern became almost fully independent and was producing work above and beyond the team’s expectations. The intern was eventually offered a full-time position at the firm. Chris said he found this experience personally rewarding because “it provided affirmation that leading by example and investing time in developing others was an effective leadership strategy for me” and one that he continues to implement today.
So why did Chris Maurer leave his job as an inspiring IT auditor at KPMG to become a motivating and respected professor at the University of Tampa? One word: fulfillment. “I reached a point in my career where I was unfulfilled in my responsibilities. I was getting to travel all over the world but I was only working. I felt like my entire life was just my job. While I was getting rewarded for that, I knew there was more to life than just working and earning promotions and getting raises.” Chris wanted the opportunity to dedicate more of his life to non-work activities. “Given that I used to be a swim coach and had the involvement and experience in coaching and teaching, I thought that would possibly be a good career path.” During a trip to visit his sister who was working at Princeton, he was reminded of the invigorating atmosphere of a college campus. He had a revelation—“this is what I really want to be.”
Chris’s time as a Leonard Leadership Scholar had a huge impact upon this decision. As a member of the very first class of Leonard Leadership Scholars, he was a part of the foundation. Even today, he refers to the self-assessments taken in ILA as a way to identify his strengths and weaknesses. As a leader, his greatest weakness is the struggle to give up control. It was always difficult for him to see and understand why alternate approaches could be optimal. Lessons learned in ILA helped him understand when to defend his perspective and when to trust in others’ perspectives. The most important take away he found during his time in ILA, was “the power of self-awareness.” Chris had a great job at KPMG where he reaped the rewards of his high performance, but he lacked self-satisfaction, purpose, and drive. The self-awareness that he learned from the Leonard Leadership Scholar program allowed him to have the confidence to change his career. “It is hard to leave a well-paying job to get paid almost nothing for four years in a PhD program. Financially, it was a very challenging time but I was willing to put all of that on hold and realized that I could come out with a more rewarding career.”
Now as a professor of business statistics, Chris lives his passion of teaching through empowerment. “I believe you can’t learn statistics without actually doing it.” Chris’s method of teaching is very hands-on. “I don’t just sit and write massive formulas on the board and expect students to memorize things, I actually give them real world data to go and play with.” Chris personalizes each class. “I give them the opportunity to really get intrinsically motivated in the topic and then apply what we are doing in class to something that they are excited about already.”
“To learn something new every day and share this knowledge with others” is how Chris knows he has contributed to the world. “I believe that life is an ongoing opportunity to learn, grow, and change.”
Chris Maurer is a passionate and empowering teacher and leader. And he is just one of the 995.