Written by CR alumna Mallory Huggins
When I learned that for a half of a semester, I would be enrolled a Negotiations course that took three-plus hours on a Tuesday night, I was worried. What I didn’t anticipate was a class led by a man who is part professor, part storyteller, and part stand-up comedian. But Kevin Welber is exactly that.
Welber grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and earned his undergraduate degree from Williams College. After getting a law degree from the College of William and Mary, he worked for 12 years as a lawyer in the petroleum industry and found he wasn’t as intellectually stimulated as he wanted to be. Inspired by his volunteer mediation work, he fell into a career in negotiations: “I went back for a mid-career Master's Degree in Conflict Management at Johns Hopkins SAIS. I met Cathy Tinsley of the McDonough School at Georgetown at a SAIS meeting and asked if I could sit in on her MBA Negotiations class. One day, I gave a 20 minute lecture about my job and when she went on sabbatical the next year, I was invited to teach the course.”
This fall, Welber taught the Negotiations course for the 38th time, but it was his first section of all CR students. Perhaps as a testament to the discussion-based nature of the conflict resolution master’s program, he “found the section much more engaged in the subject and ready to participate in the discussions.”
When he’s not teaching, Welber has a job that is worthy of its own article. As he puts it, he’s a "high-seas repo man." Along with some typical legal work, he specializes in seizing ships that haven’t paid their bills: “This involves following the ship around the world for months or years and then making a maritime arrest when they are in a favorable jurisdiction. As you can imagine, this leads to some interesting negotiations.”
Does Welber have any advice about negotiations for individuals who haven’t taken a course in the subject? Yep: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But you’ve also got to pick your battles.”
Kevin Welber is a Professional Lecturer for the Government Department and The McDonough School of Business.
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