It’s a crucial question for those training the next generation of businesspeople. And it prompted Dr. Douglas Hensler, dean of the Craig School of Business at California State University, Fresno, to seek answers. To get them, he created a Professor-in-Residence Program to place a faculty member in the workforce of a Fresno company.

Dr. Sasan Rahmatian, a professor of Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department, was the first faculty member in the program. He spent eight weeks last summer at Saladino’s to gain insights into the workings of the food service distributor.

The result, said Rahmatian, was quite positive. He believes he, his students and the company gained valuable insights from his residency.

“I benefited by comparing the principles that I teach to the way business is done in the real world, thus enriching both. This assisted students by having their instructor share with them a real world case study,” he said.

Saladino’s, founded in 1944, is a food service distributor that delivers products to pizzerias, restaurants and delicatessens in California, northern Nevada and western Idaho.

Chief information officer Craig Urrizola, who worked with Rahmatian during the residency, said it was helpful having the professor within the company, even for a short time.

“Overall, Dr. Rahmatian was a valuable asset to our company who impressed us with his knowledge. He helped us in finding the importance within our business and in moving forward by helping resolve problems that were lingering throughout the business,” said Urrizola.

Rahmatian’s chief mission while in residence was to establish a culture and use of Key Performance Indicators (KPI), which measure each department and help a small company to grow.

Rahmatian’s work put him in contact with a variety of people and departments at Saladino’s. His questions probed the purpose of the departments and the level of performance within each.

After recording his findings, Rahmatian did a 90-minute presentation on his methodology and findings to the management of the company. He also made presentations at Fresno State to the Business Associates board of directors, the Business Associates 27th Annual Luncheon and the Craig School’s Business Advisory Council.

Dr. Hensler described the benefits from all views.

“The Professor-in-Residence Program is very important in the Craig School of Business because it exposes our faculty to the daily rigors of the business world,” said Hensler.

“Faculty members who leverage their academic training with the knowledge they gain from being embedded in a business for a considerable length of time bring a very rich product to the classroom. Craig School students benefit a great deal from that,” said Hensler.