Nathalie Janson (NEOMA Business School), Raffaele Filieri (Audencia Business School) and Peter Trkman (Faculty of Economics at the University Ljubljana) were among the faculty who joined the International Summer School during June 5 -16. Below you can read some of the statements they shared with us with respect to their experience at Universidad de los Andes School of Management, as well as some insights about their lives as scholars.
- When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
I always liked to debate and discuss, so I think that has been in me for a long time. I never had any doubt that I would go for a PhD. At one point I was going for an MA that was more work-oriented and the guy interviewing me said Are you sure you want to do this? I think you should go for a research PhD.
When I was 18 years old, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. All I did know was that I didn’t want to be a professor. As a teenager, I was an introvert and very uncomfortable about speaking in public. But then, somehow I was invited to become a teaching assistant at the University of Ljubljana, followed by a lecturing position and then I really started to enjoy basically both parts of our work: the research, finding out new things, and also lecturing, both at my home university and then also abroad.
- What are the most satisfying aspects of being a scholar?
FILIERI: The research aspect is what I like the most; identifying things and discovering how things will evolve. This is probably the most exciting aspect of my job. I also enjoy the teaching aspect a lot, sharing my knowledge, my experience, and my research experience with students and trying to involve companies in teaching environment as well.
JANSON: I guess the most satisfying aspect is the freedom. When you compare this with working in a company, there is no comparison. You are your own master, so you need to be tough with yourself because you need to discipline yourself but if it is part of you then it is no problem.
TRKMAN: Two things: first, it is the diversity of work; you wear many different hats. For example, when you are writing a scientific paper, the tasks you have to perform in terms of literature review, data collection, analyzing, working with reviewers is something totally different to when you lecture. But even when you lecture, you have a totally different audiences. So you really have to change the hat you are wearing according to the audience. The other thing is that the work can be very flexible in terms of what you work on, when you work, and how you work.
- What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?
JANSON: At the moment I am interested in bitcoin and cryptocurrency, so this is what I am currently finishing a paper on for a conference in two weeks. This is something I am really interested in so I think I will continue to work on it. I am also very interested in the consequences and analysis of unorthodox monetary policies we have implemented in many countries, and that in relationship with sovereign debt. So, for example, how those monetary policies are a way to ease the issue of high public debt at European level. And also banking regulation, especially the question of efficiency as this is the topic of my dissertation.
TRKMAN: I will continue to work in the fields I am in. I am from the department of information systems and supply chain management, both of which are very fast-moving fields. For example, one thing that my students really like is that I update my teaching material every year. For example this year, I have added a lot about blockchain to my digital business course because blockchain is a topic that in Europe is very hot.
- Please tell us a special anecdote from your academic life.
FILIERI: I have received a lot of good comments from students in the past. They really like my enthusiasm, my passion. I once went to BMW where one of my students was working and he told me that my model was really helpful in enabling him to understand how things worked in the company at BMW London. He was really thankful and he said that these aspects of the model helped him understand how businesses work, how he should relate to other people and what he should do when he works with a company.
TRKMAN: One that was probably the most profound in my career: we had a course in introduction to information systems at undergraduate level. In my first lecture, I gave a general introduction about how Internet is changing our lives. One of the examples was that companies can outsource their call centers to India for example in order to cut costs. At the end of the lecture, most students left the room except one. He came to me and said, professor that was a very nice lecture but I am from India and I found your lecture to be racist as you portrayed Indians as a source of cheap labor for the US. So I apologized to him and started to explain, and then he said… Not to worry, just kidding, I am from the Dominican Republic. … This is useful anecdote because it made me think. I am not racist at all, but perhaps I misrepresented the role of information systems in Asia. Find out more here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/professor-your-lecture-racist-peter-trkman/
- How does your work contribute to the society as a whole?
FILIERI: I would say that we teach marketing managers to be responsible, to behave ethically, to look at the long-term perspective when they work in a company … to see the bigger picture. Also, we teach them to be critical thinkers and to be sociable, to connect with other people to use their social capital to get the resources they need, resources that they could not obtain if they were working on their own. Obviously we also teach them to respect the environment. In the past, in Europe, we were influenced by the American way of development, which is not very good. So now many countries are rethinking their mode of development and also how market specialists should behave… marketing is probably one of these functions that have a big role in causing harm to the environment because we teach students to persuade people to buy and buy and buy.
JANSON: I like to write short articles for newspapers and participate in the media through interviews. So this is the way I hope I can contribute. I know that research articles are only read by other researchers or barely, so what is important to me is to connect what I am working on with public debate.
TRKMAN: At our school and at Universidad de los Andes, we include sustainability in courses, the ethical issues. For example, when we teach about introduction to information systems we don’t just talk about the opportunities that information systems bring to companies but also ethical issues, in terms of privacy, security, and the ethical challenges that new technologies are bringing. On the other hand, when we talk about supply chain management, the reality is that as it is about moving the products through the supply chain so of course there is pollution, CO2 emissions, etc. What we basically try to do is to teach students to not just think about the profit but to keep these societal issues in mind.
- How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
FILIERI: I try to engage students a lot so it is really a two way communication whereby I tell a story or I try to summarize the findings from my academic research, but at the same time I try to see if my students confirm what I am teaching them. So it is a very critical approach; I am very open to criticism, I am very open to listening to their opinion so really when I teach, I ask students what they think based on their experience of the things I am telling them. So my teaching philosophy is a two-way interaction; I don’t expect them to learn just by listening to me or looking at slides.
JANSON: I like to try to stimulate students to make them understand that when you study what is important is to think and not to take things for granted. I am not sure I succeed with my students because in France when students come to business school, they do two years of what we call preparatory school and then after that, they are fed up and they don’t want to think… or they think they do but really they just want to party. So when you try and make them think they are not very happy about it. I believe in letting people be responsible for what they do, so I like interaction, I like to stimulate students but it is up to them to come to class and be willing to come to class.
TRKMAN: I never ask for definitions or bullet points, so one thing is to make my classes engaging. I know how difficult it is to listen to someone for 90 minutes when he is just explaining something. I also try to tell them funny stories about my experience as a consultant or sometimes even from my private life. So that’s one thing and I definitely get them to think and give them the ability to apply what they learn to their own cases.
- What do you learn the most from the interaction with your students?
FILIERI: My research is about consumer perception and consumer behavior and my students are consumers so they provide insights for me to start new research projects. My students are opinion leaders and they influence a lot of people, so they are important sources of information.
JANSON: It is interesting because you are always surprised. I have a population that is quite similar: one which doesn’t come from the preparatory school and they receive what I teach totally differently. Because you think they are more or less the same age and from the same educated background but they receive the learning experience in totally different ways.
TRKMAN: I learn a lot, especially when I go abroad. My first sentence is always: I am not just here to teach but also to learn. I can learn a whole lot from foreign students about their economy, their business models, and their companies. Also I teach mainly international students at my home school so there too, I can learn quite a lot from them. Find out more about Professor Trkman’s teaching and learning experiences here:
- During your visit, what surprised you about Colombia?
FILIERI: In my case, I have a friend from Bogotá who I lived with in Rome with whom I had a great experience of friendship. He is a very genuine person. Also, a few years ago I saw a program about some Italians that had come to Colombia and who were describing the things they had seen: the coffee, the food, the nature. So I thought, I am pretty sure that Colombia has a lot of potential as a tourist destination, but that right now people are a bit scared because of all the negative press.
TRKMAN: I have been here for ten days and most of the time I have been in my office or in my hotel, but from what I have seen, it is a lovely city and lovely country. I went to Monserrate, ok it was totally crowded because it was a religious holiday, I went to some museums in the city center, the Zona Rosa and it looks like a lovely and lively city.
- What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?
FILIERI: I really admire its respect for community development and its respect for the environment. Also, it is one of the best campuses I have ever seen.
JANSON: The facilities are amazing. The fact that we have an office where we can work and this time I have met a lot of other professors so there is that interaction. It has been very nice and it would be even better if we can continue to work together on upcoming projects. The university is very pleasant to work in.
TRKMAN: First of all, in terms of the school, I think that there are some very advanced things that you are doing. For example, the group of students I am working with is very advanced. Here the students in the class are really highly qualified professionals working in their day job and then still having the energy to come to the lectures from 6 to 9.