Westmont Magazine Entrepreneur Puts a Value on Virtue
Former Student Body President Brings His Entrepreneurial Perspective to the Classroom
“Don’t try to be something you’re not,” Carter Crockett ’92 tells his students. It’s advice he lives by. Not only will he quit a job that doesn’t fit before he has a new one, but he’ll park cars or pour coffee until he finds the right position.
“I try to avoid places where I’m too comfortable,” he says. Shortly before his wedding, he left a consulting job that was asking him to be something he wasn’t. The next well-paying position became history when his employer ignored the innovative marketing approach he advocated. Carter and his wife, Kerry Hales Crockett ’94, then moved from California to Seattle. He spent a year breaking into the industry of his choice: educational software. Meanwhile, he taught computers to preschoolers and parked cars.
Carter directed marketing for two start-ups developing children’s software: Firstlight Productions and Splash Studios. Splash turned out to be his dream job. “I worked with a great group of talented people — it was an incredible educational experience,” he says. “I got to see every aspect of the company.” He also spent time at Edmark, a more established firm that pioneered children’s products. But all three businesses failed.
Becoming a contract worker for Microsoft provided better job security but less excitement. The company pegged him as a marketing specialist and assigned him to do market research and strategic planning for Picture It, Works Suite and Microsoft Office. He also worked on the launch of Windows 2000 Professional.
The next challenge was co-founding his own venture: Dealer Trade Group. The idea was to make wholesale car auctions more efficient by conducting them online. Carter wrote the business plan and guided the funding and creation of the 30-person company. In just two years, it quickly outgrew his interests and abilities. “It was all about streamlining operations after we successfully introduced a new way to wholesale vehicles,” he says. Once he mitigated the initial risk, he passed the baton — resigning without a new job.
Carter started thinking about his career ambitions. “I realized there was one dream I had not yet pursued,” he says. “That was teaching at a place like Westmont. I’m not a natural academic, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I realized I had something to offer students: practical business experience. I could help the next generation connect theory to practice the way Roy Millender did for me when I majored in economics and business at Westmont.”
While pondering this dream, Carter did marketing for two companies: Cranium, a popular board game start-up, and Pura Vida Coffee, a firm that gives all its profits to ministries in coffee-growing countries. Then he focused on getting into graduate school.
Leaving inner-city Seattle (where they had lived to keep from becoming too comfortable), Carter, Kerry and their two children settled in beautiful Banchory, Scotland. Carter studied at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and Kerry got to engage in village life. The parish church welcomed them warmly.
Reading scholarly works turned out to be a joy, not a chore. Carter found he had a knack for research. “I got to chase the questions that most interested me: social and moral issues related to entrepreneurship,” he says. His dissertation presents Aristotle’s theory of virtue as a framework for evaluating the moral impact of business. Because of Enron and other scandals, business ethics turned out to be a timely topic. His publications and presentations include “The Added Value of Virtue” and “The Virtuous Venture.”
Carter joined the economics and business faculty last fall after completing his doctorate, and he’s already created a new general education course. He explores business ethics in “Society, Morality and Enterprise,” and he’s redesigned the basic marketing and management courses. He also places all the department’s interns.
“As a student, I was fully engaged in every way except academically,” he says. “As a professor, I want to connect students to the business world and be a bridge between the academic and the practical, the Christian and the secular, the rich and the poor. And I want to keep finding new questions to ask.”