Tarleton Business professor finds passion in people

Photo provided by Dr. Jake Heller

Rachel Tuggle Snyder

STEPHENVILLE (January 4, 2018)– This is the seventh installment in our fall Tarleton State University Faculty Feature series. Twice a month The Flash Today will introduce a different faculty or staff member to the community. 

Tarleton State University assistant management professor Dr. Jake Heller finds himself fascinated with people. Whether its teaching students or working with corporations and organizations, Heller loves to study relationships and how they work.

“My educational history and my work experience have always focused on creating change or gaining momentum or gaining compliance from people,” Heller said. “So, for me to be able to come in and teach other people how to be successful is exciting.”

Heller has taught management courses at Tarleton for the past four years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Arizona State University and a PhD in public administration from Arizona.

“The way I kind of pull everything together is that it really just comes down to relationships,” Heller said. “The bachelor of arts in communication gave me the foundation and the platform to develop my ability to speak in groups. In the marriage and family program, I began to understand that in every dyad the important part is understanding why people behave the way they do.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Heller worked at Cross Bank for a few years where he helped develop and launch the bank’s website. Then, upon completion of his master’s degree, Heller began working at Intel as a group manager and then as an internal consultant.

“I transitioned from that job into a job as a contract negotiator,” Heller said. “I managed not just the suppliers’ contracts but every aspect of the performance. The diversity was what made it so difficult. I would get on the phone with somebody in Europe at six in the morning, work all day, and then I would get on the phone with somebody in Asia who was starting their next business day at seven in the evening.”

During his time at Intel, Heller worked on four continents and in 27 countries. At the same time, Heller completed his PhD and then received a job offer from Tarleton.

“I finished my PhD on Nov. 20,” Heller said. “I interviewed for a job here at Tarleton four days later. I received an offer and accepted the offer and moved my family on Dec. 22.”

Heller and his wife Carley moved their five kids here in hopes of finding a small town they could love.

“The small town feel of Tarleton and, more specifically, Stephenville was just right for us,” Heller said. “Stephenville is unique because, in addition to the small town feel, it also has some pretty well established global businesses like FMC and Saint Gobain. That’s a rare mix for a small town.”

Here Heller divides his time between teaching, consulting with businesses and organizations like the Stephenville Economic Development Authority, spending time with his family and coaching baseball.

“I like to think that I bring a little real, practical work-life experience to the classroom,” Heller said. “Whether it’s a professional business relationship or a couple, it’s really about understanding what the other person needs and helping to give them what they need.  Whether I am a city manager or an account representative dealing with people in Asia and Holland and Japan, it all comes down to that relationship I have with that person.”


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