Five words from God are sometimes all it takes to change the course of a person’s life. For professor Jake Aguas, the words “If you really trust me” were the catalyst that moved him from the corporate boardroom to the classroom and beyond.
During his employment as a human resource manager at JP Morgan Chase, Aguas (M.A.’08), alongside his wife, Shelli Lynn, prayed for several years about the direction of his professional life. Though comfortable in his corporate surroundings, he sensed that his love of learning, gift of leadership and experience working in marketing, entertainment and Fortune 100 companies was meant to shape the next generation of Christian leaders and business professionals.
A graduate of Biola’s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program, one of Aguas’ first moves was to return to his alma mater, where he currently serves as an associate professor of management in Biola’s Crowell School of Business.
“I go to sleep so satisfied knowing I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned in the corporate space and in my education, and [have] equipped our next generation of business men and women to not just grasp concepts from a knowledge perspective, but practically know what exists out there and how to be successful and competitive beyond reproach,” he said.
Trusting God with his professional pursuits also led Aguas to take his business and leadership acumen beyond Los Angeles County and across international borders. In addition to leading Biola students on study tours to mainland China and Hong Kong, Aguas regularly travels around the globe serving as an organizational consultant for Morris Interactive, where his consultation efforts focus primarily on generational differences in the workplace.
Aguas’ passion for researching and consulting on leadership and generational differences led him to author several publications on the subject matter, including two books, Megatrends: The Transformative Forces Shaping the United States and Generation Z and the COVID-19 Crisis, the latter co-authored by Aguas’ former teaching assistant and Biola alumna Madeleine Prater (B.S. ’21). Both publications are now being used as textbooks for leadership and business courses by multiple universities.
“My heart goes out to the amount of things that this young generation has experienced — and if I can help educate them and older generations on how Gen Z and millennials work and why they are the way they are in the workplace, I think we can look to being more collaborative and be able to work better together as teams in the workplace,” Aguas said.
While both of Aguas’ books touch on how society is adjusting in this mid-pandemic world, Generation Z and the COVID-19 Crisis truly reflects his heart for the current generation. Sprung from numerous conversations regarding how Generation Z’s mental health has been impacted by the pandemic, he and Prater began to examine how the pandemic has uniquely affected Generation Z and the ramifications it has had on their health, education, technology, politics, ecology and socio-culture.
As for what’s next, Aguas plans to continue developing curriculum to educate the next generation of leaders about cultural and generational differences and how to use that knowledge to collaborate effectively with one another. He also hopes to develop a human resources degree program and train students to become effective, competitive and virtuous leaders in the workplace.
Whether speaking in a classroom or consulting in Canada, Aguas’ advice applies to current and aspiring leaders worldwide.
“Keep the Lord at the center of everything you do,” he said. “Do not compromise. The path may take a little bit longer because you may have to demonstrate integrity and not take shortcuts, but you’ll be God-honoring and be blessed by that.”