Skip area navigation

James, Alumnus and Former GE VP, to Speak at Business Forum Oct. 22

October 20, 2021

Update: 9 a.m., 10/22/21 - This event has been canceled. The speaker experienced flight delays and was unable to make it to campus in time.


The Paul Dickinson School of Business at OBU will host its next Business Forum Friday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m. in Tulsa Royalties Auditorium in Bailey Business Center. OBU alumnus Dr. Dick James will deliver a lecture titled, “Math, Business and OBU.” He will discuss his time at OBU as well as his experiences with math and business as a Christian in the business world, rising to the ranks of vice president at GE and president of JBL.

James was raised by Christian parents and became a Christian himself at the age of eight. Through an academic scholarship, he was able to attend OBU, which he claims not only provided a firm foundation for his career, but also allowed him to grow spiritually by interacting with Christian professors and fellow Christian students.

He graduated from OBU with a major in mathematics and a minor in economics. He then earned both a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Purdue University. According to James, these elements of his education and his relationships with numerous OBU professors led him to believe combining math and business might be possible for his career. His involvement in leadership activities on campus, such as his experience as president of the OBU student senate, likewise helped him uncover his leadership potential. 

While studying at Purdue, James learned that advanced probability, statistics, stochastic processes and time series analysis could be applied in a wide variety of fields, including both engineering and marketing. After earning his Ph.D. at Purdue, he accepted a position as an applied mathematician at General Motors. After serving in that position for a year and a half, he switched into econometric modeling and market forecasting within a marketing department. Within five years, he was appointed as the director of a 35-person department charged with using market research, economic analysis and product sales forecasting within corporate product planning. 

After being recruited to provide similar quantitative analytical support at General Electric, James was asked to branch into product strategic planning, marketing and customer service, which led to becoming a vice president at GE. In 1990, James became the president of JBL, a loudspeaker and headphone manufacturing company. After three years at JBL, James then had the opportunity to lead three other very different businesses before his retirement in 2008. 

Since that time, he has used his business management experience to mentor non-profit CEOs. He has also devoted his time serving as board president at Open House Ministries, a Christ-based shelter with the mission of changing lives by bringing the love of Jesus to previously homeless families.