Interview with our Ph.D. student Peter Winkler, District Chief of Staff for the US House of Representatives from the United States of America.
Peter has joined LIGS University in September 2017. Since then, he has participated in 2 international conferences. He has also helped his fellow students by leading 2 webinars on the topic of Franchising for LIGS University. We are grateful for Peter and we wish him the best!
Aloha, could you please introduce yourself to our readers? Your area of expertise, background, experience, hobby, etc.?
My name is Peter M. Winkler. I am approaching retirement after a twenty plus year career as a District Chief of Staff for the US House of Representatives. Prior to that, I had a long career as a franchisee for McDonald's, along with a number of other franchise companies.
Educationally, I have a B.A. and a Master's from the University of Notre Dame, a degree in accounting from the University of Pittsburgh, and certifications in financial planning and in Project Management from Florida State and the U. of Illinois respectively. I have background and interest in taxation, and I have operated a small tax practice for several decades.
I am married, with two adult children, and have a hobby farm raising fruit in NW Pennsylvania, USA. Aside from that, my primary hobby is road racing, and I try to run 50 to 75 5K races each year. Unfortunately nowhere near as fast as when I was 30.
I have also served in local government as an elected official, both at the county and municipal level. I have a fair understanding of the American government and taxation, and of franchising as a business concept. I am an accredited small business consultant with some background in H.R. and supply chain management.
Where did you hear about LIGS University and what inspired you to join LIGS University?
After a long internet search, I found LIGS and decided to pursue a Ph.D. there - inspired by my goal to earn a doctorate after I retire. So far, I'm running behind, because my plan was to retire 10 months ago, but I agreed to stay in my present position to deal with the unexpected need to move our offices, due to the redistricting of Pennsylvania's Congressional districts. However, I plan to focus on my studies after February of 2019, when I absolutely will retire.
I like the self-directed approach to education that LIGS has adopted, and I like the emphasis on writing, which is not as common in education as it once was, and I think education is the poorer for it! Of course, I also like the LIGS low-cost model.
What do you think are the benefits of an online/executive form of education?
I've had the privilege of working for two US Congressmen, who both concentrated heavily on educational opportunities, and who served on the Career and Technical Education Committee in the US House of Representatives. I think the USA, along with most other countries, face a tremendous challenge with the delivery of education at an affordable price and long into adulthood, given the rapid pace of technological change we are experiencing in the 21st Century.
People need to learn constantly, and the skills we learn in our twenties are likely to be completely outdated within a decade or two. The challenge is to deliver lifelong education in an affordable way and in an approachable manner. Online education addresses these two key points and does it well. People can learn at their own pace, and often they can design their own programs. I have often said that the world has to approach education in the same way we approach entertainment today - always available, always downloadable, and always easy to use. The best model I have seen is online.
Can you share the value of studying at LIGS University to you?
For me, studies at LIGS are purely personal. I am finishing my career, not starting it, and so I am looking to fulfill a personal goal.
I believe for others, younger others, LIGS can add to one's credentials, provide outstanding resources, and strengthen the ability to communicate and do so professionally. I have been impressed by the emphasis LIGS places on skilled communication.
What do education and personal development mean to you?
In concise terms, keeping up. The world is changing faster than it ever has in human history, and the pace of change is increasing, not decreasing. I was an early adopter of business computing, but the DOS system I established expertise in, has disappeared completely. My first desktop computer took up the entire desk. The point is, you have to stay ahead of the technological curve, or your career will stall. People need to develop strong interests in lifelong education, and they need to resist the many things that will distract you from that.
In your opinion, what trends in education do you see in the next 5-10 years from now and why?
I see continued growth in online delivery. As education becomes a continuous process, lasting throughout one's life, the need to drive to, or live on campus becomes a burden. I expect to see the internet, already a potent force, become almost predominant in the delivery of adult education.
Based on your experience with LIGS, would you recommend cooperation with LIGS as a student and why?
Absolutely, LIGS gives you the ability to work at your own pace. The program is flexible and allows you to design it to meet your own needs. I also find their staff to be friendly, professional, and always available, which is no small thing. I would absolutely recommend LIGS.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement/s in your career and life?
I would say that the achievement I take the most pride in is the fact that I managed my finances carefully enough in the last twenty years to pay for my two children's full education. In today's world, I decided it was important that they start life debt-free, and though it wasn't always easy, I was able to do that for them. Today, my daughter is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and my son is a software engineer. They both have good careers, and I think they will both be able to manage their own finances in such a way, that they will be able to afford to pay for their children's education - passing it forward, so to speak.
Do you have any experience with failure/s and how did you learn from it?
We all experience failure. I have had to close a number of businesses in my career - I made poor decisions on location, or on personnel - but the biggest mistake I made was over-extending, not so much financially, but personally. In the past, I over-estimated the load I could carry. I have learned, to some extent, not to do that.
What are your life and work goal/s?
At this point in my life, my main goal is to complete my doctoral program and to produce a document at the end that outlines my theories on taxation, and specifically, the dangers of income taxation in democracies.
Since I plan to retire in a few months, I do not have many work goals. I will continue to operate my tax practice, and I will probably try to stay involved in the government, though not on a full-time basis. I also want to run 100 5K races in a calendar year, but just once, if I can find enough races to do that!
What is your motto?
I was always partial to Satchel Paige's motto, "Don't look back; something might be gaining on you.".
The motto I have used in the operation of our Congressional offices has been this: if people ask for help, try to give them some. Often people turn to the government for solutions to problems that are outside the realm, but we still try to find resources for them and to point them to someone who can help when the government cannot. People who ask for help should never be turned away cold.
Thank you very much for the interview