Using His Doctoral Education to Lead Christian Business Chamber

Thom Owens ’16 (School of Business & Leadership) runs his commercial realty business on Christian principles. He joined 40 like-minded Christians in business in 2011 to found the Christian Business Chamber of Hampton Roads to bring together businesses like the one he now owns. This year he was elected president of the chamber, and he’s using his military experience and Regent education to lead others into a comprehensive vision for the organization’s future.

“Our purpose is to be marketplace ambassadors for Christ, encouraging and equipping each other to fulfill our God-given purpose,” said Owens.

Nearly 250 members form the Christian Business Chamber of Hampton Roads, which will celebrate its four-year-mark in November. Owens desires to boost the organization’s membership by hosting a broadcast of Leadercast 2016, a nationally syndicated leadership conference in May. As the organization grows, he’d like to see the formation of a young professionals group and women’s group.

Owens is a life-long believer in personal development and improvement. That’s why he decided to use his GI benefit to pursue a doctorate of strategic leadership at Regent. He began working toward the degree in 2013, completing two classes each semester. He’s tackled the task by dedicating 15 to 20 hours per week toward his studies in an office he’s set aside exclusively for coursework. It’s equipped with 70 books about leadership or discipleship.

“It’s really paying off,” said Owens. “There are a lot of things I’m learning about innovation and organizational culture that I’m feeding back into the business chamber.”

Owens’ studies are on-top of his work as a commercial realtor. He enjoys the job, because it allows him to mentor and coach aspiring entrepreneurs, something he hopes his DSL degree will empower him to spend more time doing once he’s completed the program.

“Being a commercial realtor gives me an opportunity to talk to small business owners who are about to go into an office space and want a representative to work with landlords. It gives me an insight into how strong their business skills and backgrounds are. I can give them some business coaching. I’m not going to look at people, call them an unqualified candidate and say, ‘Have a nice day!’ I help them put together business plans and become qualified clients.”

Part of Owens’ long-term personal plan includes coaching and mentoring small-business owners in the Christian community. He says his experience with the chamber has showed him that many Christians need help overcoming misconceptions about business. He wants to show them how profit is biblical, and that it can enable entrepreneurs to give back to their communities by providing a valuable service.

Owens is active in a weekly Bible study with other entrepreneurs who discuss both scripture and business. In addition to serving as chamber president, working as a commercial realtor and studying as a Regent doctoral student, Owens is a husband and father of four daughters. He served 20 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a lieutenant colonel, and attributes this experience to his love of leadership.