Kevin Wayne was at the peak of his career in medical technology when he decided to give it all up to teach college students. He didn’t have a single “aha” moment when he decided to get off the fast track. Instead, he reassessed his priorities as he approached his fortieth birthday.
“I looked around me and saw all these people who didn’t have much of a family life and I knew I wanted something different,” says Wayne, who switched to academia so he could play a bigger role in his daughter's life. At the time, he was a key executive at ONUX Medical, a company he co-founded in 1998 with inventor and entrepreneur Greg Sancoff. Wayne found the work “super interesting and challenging,” but all-consuming.
Wayne was part of a team that developed and marketed medical devices that were considered “disruptive technology,” a term used for inventions that disrupt the status quo. One instrument, Touché, helped doctors suture or stitch patients without a needle and the other, Salute, was a “kinder, gentler” surgical stapler designed to reduce post-operative pain. “Many breakthrough innovations occur outside the big companies. The upstarts have so much less to lose,” Wayne says.
While still working in industry, Wayne entered a doctoral program in management at the Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. He spent the next five years studying, doing research, teaching part-time, and working. “Things got worse before they got better,” he laughs.
Today, Wayne is happy to be teaching undergraduate and graduate level students at Rivier, where he enjoys “the freedom to evolve both as a scholar and teacher.” It’s a balancing act to move back and forth between undergraduates and graduate students, he says. “I’m trying to wake up 18-year-olds during an 8 a.m. class on the one hand and on the other hand, trying to keep professionals in our graduate program awake after a full day at work,” he says.
He encourages students to take creative risks and develop project management skills. “We can prepare students who are exceptional at one aspect of business—say market research—but what small and mid-sized businesses really need are well-rounded professionals…who can set objectives, plan projects, work with diverse sets of people, adapt quickly, and get things done.”