Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham developed their interest and love of soft skills and their role in the workplace quite by accident. They kept seeing their respective college students struggling to articulate their skill set to prospective employers or to advance in their careers effectively.

They began studying the issue and working with their students to find new, powerful ways to articulate the skills that employers wanted and need them to demonstrate. Their technical expertise weren’t in question, so they focused on helping students share stories about their soft skills, those skills people use to interact with other people. They did academic research, and published and presented three papers on soft skills, including one where they developed a list of the 55 soft skills that workers use in work situations. Their list came from culling more than 400 academic journal articles discussing these skills, as well as vetting against their more than 20 years each in the business world. The resulting list was the subject of their book, The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success, as well as their podcast, the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, and their training, coaching and speaking work.

Dr, Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, soft skills experts

Dr. Tobin Porterfield, left, and Bob Graham

Dr. Tobin Porterfield

Dr. Tobin Porterfield is an active business educator and researcher. While he has an extensive professional career in supply chain management, in 2007 he earned his Ph.D. in Supply Chain Logistics from the R.H. Smith School at the University of Maryland. Since earning his Ph.D. he has focused on teaching and research. He has taught around the world and presented his research at regional, national, and global conferences. His work has been published in journals including Team Performance Management, the Journal of Computer Information Systems, the International Journal of Project Organization & Management, Transportation Journal, the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management and the International Journal of Production Economics. His practical professional experience and research training are great assets as we work to understand the profound impact of soft skills and professional skills in the workplace.

Bob Graham

Bob Graham was a Lecturer on business communications and marketing at Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering. His prior teaching experiences include adjunct positions at the Towson University School of Business and Economics, Strayer University, Goucher University, Essex Community College and the Towson University Department of Communications and Fine Arts. Drawing on experience as a journalist, public relations manager, technical editor, high school English teacher and marketer, Graham formed Bigger Pie Strategies in 2010. The marketing company has developed successful marketing campaigns for small businesses, established businesses, tech start-ups, non-profits and for-profit concerns. He has written extensively in more than 25 newspapers and magazines, including the Baltimore Sun, The Daily Record and American Archaeology, and co-authored the first travel book about Baltimore, The Insider’s Guide to Baltimore. His work on soft skills harnesses the differentiators in all of these experiences and enables him to provide his students with information and research to enhance their career development.