This month’s faculty spotlight is on Anthony Funaro, instructor for MTI College’s Business Administration program. Anthony has been with MTI for four years and has a total of 12 years teaching in higher education. Anthony has won the Instructor of the Year award from MTI College in both 2014 and 2015. With areas of expertise in both business and teaching, Anthony has quite a diverse background. Growing up in Iowa, he started his education at Iowa State University. Then he admirably became a Marine for six years, in which time he rose four ranks and eventually left as an E-5 Sergeant. He completed both his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his master’s degree in organization management from the University of Phoenix. In that time, he was transferred to Maui for work and lived in Hawaii for 22 years, before moving in 2002 to California, where he currently resides.
Anthony spent much of his career working with the U.S. Postal Service in capacity-based planning. In this role he would go from post office to post office to improve operations. He also taught at the postal center, training new employees who wanted to get promoted to supervisor, and he would implement ongoing training for people working as carriers and clerks. As part of these responsibilities, one of Anthony’s main points of focus was to develop employees. “When I am a leader, I work with the employees and listen to their feedback,” he said, and explained that including employees in the process, as well as getting their feedback and opinions, respecting their skills and truly supporting them, helps them buy into the overall process. In addition, Anthony had his own lucrative property preservation company. However, when the housing market crashed, business started slowing down, eventually leading him to sell his company in 2010. Anthony, who is an incredibly upbeat, motivating and positive person, utilized this newfound time to buy an RV with his wife and travel the country. Around this time his daughter became pregnant as well, so he was able to enjoy some well-deserved family time.
After some relaxation and adventure, Anthony obtained a position at Blue Diamond Growers in its Office Services Department as an office services manager, a position he still holds today. Anthony continues to work full time throughout the day and then teaches general education and business courses at MTI at night. Teaching while working allows Anthony to stay abreast of what is happening in the business field and directly relate his experience in the classroom. When asked what a current hot topic in the business field is, with no hesitation Anthony replied, “development.” He explained further that you really have to look at people – what they have, what their hidden talents are and how you can pull those skills and talents out. Anthony is a firm believer in listening to your employees’ ideas, helping to implement them and giving them proper credit. When it is a collaborative, team effort, everyone is more likely to buy into the necessary processes. You also have to make sure your employees have the tools and resources to be successful, a theory he also applies to his students. “My passion is helping people. I love helping people,” Anthony said.
Anthony teaches general education classes and business classes as part of the Associate in Business Administration degree at MTI. His current course load includes the study of principles of management, introduction to business, economics, environmental science, small business administration, entrepreneurship, career preparation and strategic management, which is the capstone course. The career preparation course is one that is relatively new, but something Anthony is incredibly excited to teach. From his years of experience, he would notice students got to their capstone class and became uneasy and unsure about what they wanted to do, or should do next. With the career preparation course, Anthony is able to help them create resumes, understand professionalism and explore educational and job opportunities once they graduate from MTI. Whereas the capstone course is at the end of the program, the career preparation course is toward the beginning. “I want to make sure it is stressed at the front instead of the end of the program,” Anthony explained. Being a proactive instructor, Anthony wants to make sure all questions are answered before the end and that he is able to help guide his students in the best way possible.
The day of Anthony’s interview was also an MTI graduation day, an event he had been looking forward to attending all week. When asked what he is most proud of in his career, he did not mention any of his own personal successes, but instead replied, “When I see my students graduate and get their diploma. Helping students succeed and watching their faces when they graduate.” It does not take long to understand how truly passionate he is about teaching his students. Words of wisdom he wants to share with both prospective and current students would be that “you just have to have an open mind and be able to change. Technology is changing. The environment is changing.” He also explained how important diversity is. “There is a full spectrum of various people you will meet in business, and you have to be able to get along with people and communicate well.”
When Anthony does get some free time, he is active in both the Elks Club and the Italian-American Club, and has been involved in the Harley Club as well. In the past you may have found him helping communities in Maui and Puerto Rico, introducing people to computer courses. At the end of the day, he mentions what he loves the most: “I like developing people and training. I am so excited to go to graduation tonight to see students graduate.” Since his students are such an important aspect of his career and his life, what is his overall teaching philosophy? “Make them the best students they can be. Give them all of the tools to make them productive. Give them what they need to be successful.” It sounds like students will be in good hands with an instructor like Anthony.