Purdue Profile: Pat Obi

September 9, 2015  

Pat Obi

Pat Obi, the White Lodging Professor of Finance and director of the Executive MBA program at Purdue University Calumet. (Photo provided)
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Pat Obi may have come to Purdue Calumet for its close proximity to the Windy City, but his love for teaching and desire to help others achieve financial health is why he has remained there for 25 years.

Obi is the White Lodging Professor of Finance and director of the Executive MBA program at Purdue University Calumet. He holds a PhD in finance from the University of Mississippi and received Purdue Calumet’s 2015 Outstanding Faculty Scholar award.

He was the first recipient of the Faculty Lecturer award in 2010, was named Teacher-of-the-Year in 2000 and has received eight Outstanding Professor awards in the MBA for Executives program. With over 50 scholarly publications and two books, "Basics of Business Finance" and "We Must Change the Way We Live," Obi is working hard to help others understand what it takes to attain financial security.

What are your responsibilities as White Lodging Professor of Finance and director of the Executive MBA program?

Most importantly, I am a teacher. I teach corporate finance, quantitative methods, financial markets and institutions, as well as derivatives. My graduate-level classes involve extensive project analysis by students on companies from three major sections of the tourism industry: the lodging industry, air travel and transportation, and travel agencies.

I also research different aspects of the hospitality and tourism management industry and provide professional assistance to tourist establishments.

What initially sparked your interest in finance?

I became interested in finance because it is perhaps the most practical field of business and management. Finance is at the core of any business success. It is not just about making money; it is about making money that makes a difference and it is about creating value in every kind of work environment. You must create value for those who own the business, patronize the business and work in the business. Finance enables you to understand clearly what it takes to help a business become successful because it takes into account both the expected financial benefits and risks of the business.

What drove you to write your book "We Must Change the Way We Live"?

After speaking about the 2008 global financial crisis in venues such as Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and Khon Kaen University in Thailand as well as here at home, I realized that individuals mismanage their funds in two primary areas: education planning and personal finance. I also realized that there was more to be said and learned about avoiding debt accumulation. 

"We Must Change the Way We Live" is a narrative on financial education and was written to help the general public overcome limiting financial boundaries and become financially independent. It explains, in easy-to-understand terms, how to plan for advanced education, retirement, debt elimination and personal investments.

What path led you to Purdue Calumet?

The Purdue Calumet department chair of management recruited me while I was still a PhD student at the University of Mississippi. I was aware of Purdue’s main campus but all I knew about Purdue Calumet was that it was on the outskirts of Chicago. I had always craved to live in Chicago so I simply couldn’t refuse the offer.

I have now been working here for the last 25 years. It is pretty unusual for a professor of finance to stay put for so long, but I love teaching and mentoring Purdue Calumet students. I really enjoy my work here.

Are you working on any outside projects right now?

I am currently completing two financial studies. The first deals with the effects of energy pricing on international tourism in the United States. It addresses issues such as, do international tourists visit more frequently when energy prices are low? If so, does that have a sustainable financial impact on the lodging and transportation industry?

For the second study, I am working with companies to do feasibility studies on establishing hotels and similar tourist businesses in politically stable African countries such as Ghana.

Writer: Emily Sigg, esigg@purdue.edu 

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