Cycle 3. Carlton O´Neal, Jaime Sabal, Adrián Zicari and Helena González

July 15, 2016


These are the professors that visited us from June 27th to July 8th. Click on each name to view their full CVs.

Professor Jaime Sabal
Professor Adrián Zicari
Professor Carlton O’Neal
Professor Helena González

They gave us some insights about their lives and their opinions on the School of Management and Colombia. Get to know them better through these 10 questions.

1. When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?


Zicari: In fact, it was an idea I had in mind for a long time. I first began as a practitioner in my profession. Then, after some years in my profession, I gradually began to get interested in academia. In that moment I started my doctorate and the rest is history. That was relatively late: 12 years after graduation. So, I worked in the medical business, controlling two large hospitals. Then, I began teaching part-time while finishing my doctorate.

O’Neal: I didn’t decide it until probably 6 or 7 years ago. I had a career in industry; I sold in 35 countries for 25 years and then I retired. I started teaching a little bit on the side and then I saw that both I really enjoyed it and I was getting very good feedback from the students. So I got a lot of encouragement to become a full-time professor. I think the main reason was that I had the ability to get back to students from my experience and the training from all the years that I worked.

González: I graduated as an Industrial Engineer at first and worked in the banking field in Colombia for a while. Then my academic life starts when I earn a scholarship to develop my PhD studies in Madrid in 2006. Ever since, I’ve been involved in research and teaching in the area of organizational behavior.

2. What are the most satisfying aspects of being a scholar?

Sabal: First, that you’re using your brain at full speed all the time. Second, that you get in touch with young people that keep you fresh. Third, that you learn all the time, I love to learn. Finally, I like that you’re relatively free and you’re not tied to a specific schedule. There is not a lot of stress as long as you do your yearly work, there is nobody pushing you. It’s a very relaxed type of work.

Zicari: I would mention two. Firstly: students. I think that we have a vocation to make people grow and become better people, not just to make them learn the most. We can nurture, support and accompany people. That’s something few people can do. Second: in terms of research, we can make science go forward in issues that can help people improve their lives.


González: I like that I’m always in touch with new ideas. My field, or at least when it comes to the course I taught this year at Uniandes, is in need of constant feed of creative work. Being a scholar I get to exchange these ideas with my colleagues. Also, I think teaching helps thoughts stay fresh, because as a professor you always need to bring new methods and new kinds of interaction to motivate students.

3. What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?


O’Neal: Right now my focus is on sales, international sales. So I would say expanding my knowledge of the countries that I didn’t work in or haven’t been to as part of academic career.

González: I want to keep digging in the work I’m actually developing. I think there is still a lot to be said and researched about how organizations use the creativity of their employees to become more sustainable and innovative. This topic also has a lot to do with the study of emotions, in which I take a deep interest.I plan to examine further how can emotions impact organizations.

4. Please tell us a special anecdote from your academic life.






5. How does your work contribute to the society as a whole?

Sabal: Basically, education is the most important thing. I hope that the students that I have had through so many years are better prepared that I was at their age so there is a chance to make society more developed over time.

Zicari:I hope it does. I have the ambition that by nurturing better professionals they themselves become better people and become influential. I think that people that study in my business courses know that they can learn to help other people. It matters a lot to the society that good people and good professionals support communities.

O’Neal: In whatever small way. I teach sales in a way that’s not the stereotype of sales. The idea of sales is to help people. We’re not probably going to ever cure cancer, but if you are a salesperson you can help your costumer in a consultative way. You have to care for the costumer’s happiness and satisfaction. Ultimately, it makes the whole world a more peaceful and happy place. The only equality in my mind is economic equality and, until there is not economic equality, there’s not going to be personal equality. In business I think we have this responsibility to train students to go out and make the world a more economically vibrant place.

González: I think that a friendlier corporate environment can affect in a positive way the perception of all kinds of industries and markets. A company that embraces creativity and sustainability is one that allows this to happen. That is something I try to put forward with my research and with my teaching. I think that students, in particular those of the youngest generations, have the opportunity to set a new corporate environment. So, I think that my students can get some ideas of how to contribute to society.

6. How would you describe your teaching philosophy?

Sabal: I tend to assume that the students are responsible. So, I do not put a lot of controls. They have to do their obligations and they have to present their final exam, but I am not trying to control if they come to class or if they don’t come to class. Basically, I am relaxed on that respect. On the other hand, my teaching philosophy is very quantitative. I try to make them think. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy. My courses are, maybe, harder than an average course.



González: I prefer teaching methods that help students realize problems and look for solutions through their own experiences. That is why my course is a space where we share our thoughts on best managerial practices on a particular topic through mainly experiential learning and then try to apply that experiential learning experience to the real world.

7. What do you learn the most from the interaction with your students?

Sabal: They make you alert. What you learn is that you are learning more and more. You always find one or two students a year that ask you a couple of questions that you don’t know the answers to and that is very satisfying. That’s the best thing: at some point they ask you a question, you realize “I had never thought of this” and you learn more, and more, and more. This is probably the best feedback that I get from my students. And also, of course, there is the satisfaction of teaching.

Zicari: Sometimes many of the best, innovative ideas and research come from the students. This is when teaching and education becomes interactive. They come up with very important ideas that I would have never conceived before.

O’Neal: I grow everyday, for sure. I learn things I didn’t know. I learn best how to communicate. I think I’m a pretty good communicator, but it seems like everyday I have a student with a challenge of communication of some kind for me depending on what the issue is. So, I’ve grown both as a person and as an academician in just what the students bring, their perspectives.

So, students really bring, specially the Millennial, a whole new perspective on how a business should be conducted, how communication should occur and I really welcome that. I think that’s a unique opportunity for me to learn as a professor of new technologies, which is unprecedented. It’s never been true that the student has more knowledge about a subject than the professor, but today that’s absolutely correct.


8. During your visit, what surprised you about Colombia?

Sabal:  I have been here many times; this is my eighth year. Colombia is almost like my own country; I am from Venezuela. I feel very close to Colombia and I think we are not so different. You are more like mountain people, we are more like people from the coast, but we are basically the same people. So, I honestly feel at home here. Given that I don’t go to Venezuela anymore, I feel Colombia is my second country.

Zicari:It might sound silly, but before arriving to Bogotá I expected tropical weather, so I came with many many shirts. I am very confortable, but I expected 30-35ºC. but it’s ok for me.

O’Neal: The professionalism. I’ve been all over Latin America and South America and I’ve never been to Colombia. It’s my first time and I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, by how really professional and modern everyone’s approach is. Also, the city of Bogotá. It’s surprising by itself.

González: What surprised me this time in particular compared to last year is that I see the entire environment more calmed and I cannot explain why but people seem to have a decelerated beat in general. People are taking things in a more relaxed manner. Last year I came in holiday spirit and everything was more shaken. I don’t know if it is the city or the entire country, but I see people and the general environment more relaxed.

9. After your visit, what do you take from Colombia back home?

Sabal: It’s a contradiction; it’s a paradox because on the one hand, here I work very hard, but on the other hand it kind of is vacation time. It’s a change from my activities in Spain. The way I interact with the University here is quite different from the way I interact in Spain. This change is good for your health. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t work. I work very hard here. I think that I’ve worked harder than in Spain during these two weeks because it’s a very intensive course. What I usually do in Spain in ten weeks, I do here in two weeks. Also, as the schedule of the course is 6 to 9 pm I don’t function very well. I’m a morning person. So, I take the will to take a little rest.

Zicari: The hope of coming back soon. I enjoyed this experience very much and I would like to repeat it.

O’Neal: Besides coffee, I take back what I do whenever I teach abroad. I have a whole new set of experiences to tap into: everything from me personally witnessing business transactions in Bogotá that not related to the University, just selling on the street. Given that I’m in marketing and sales, the whole world to me is a big laboratory. So I get to see how businesses are conducted in Bogotá and in Colombia. And also, as I said, I learn from students, from their perspective. At the very least, I take the experiences I’m having in the classroom, but in reality it’s the greater cultural exchange that’s going on, and the greater knowledge that I have of the people of the northern part of South America.

González: Just good things. I take back very nice interchanges and talks with the students and different ways of seeing the same managerial topics. European students see the same managerial topics very differently and that’s very interesting. Also, I had the opportunity to interact with a group of entrepreneurs and managers, and that was a pretty good experience because I had the other side of the best management practices so this side is not the student taking but a more critical side.

10. What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?


Zicari: The people. This School of Management succeeded in creating a community of people that are involved, that are proud, that give all their energy. In each interaction that I held with staff, colleagues, directors I found that they love what they do. I think Colombia should be proud of Universidad de Los Andes.

O’Neal: The support has been amazing. You have an amazing University here and I would highly recommend anybody who has an opportunity to come to be part of this University in any way. That would be a great opportunity. The people, it comes back to the people here.



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