Wladislaw Rivkin (Aston University), Claude Chailan (EM Strasbourg Business School), Jaime Sabal (ESADE) and Christina Lubinski (Copenhagen Business School and University of Southern California), were the faculty who joined the International Summer School from June 17 – 28. Our journalist interviewed them to enquire their impressions about Universidad de los Andes School of Management, students enrolled in their courses and their lives as scholars.
For professor Rivkin this was the first time visiting Colombia and UASM and these were his impressions:
- During your visit, what has surprised you about Colombia?
Professor Wladislaw Rivkin
It’s a beautiful country. We didn’t have that much on our radar and it has been interesting to see that before we came here, we told our parents about it and they have quite a different impression of the country than we do. So it is interesting to see how the reputation of the country is changing and for a good reason because we have felt very welcome here.
- What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?
I find that it is a great school, and I think it has done a great job in maintaining the balance of students being treated like students. I think in academia and especially in the UK, we have an issue of students being treated like customers and I think this school has managed to balance out students’ expectation regarding to the course with the university’s expectations regarding students’ contribution to the learning experience.
- When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
It was around 8 years ago and it was not very planned. I studied psychology in Germany and then I went to Ukraine, Kiev, and worked there in quite a large bank in training and development, and then I worked in the German railway company in recruiting. So I never planned for an academic career, but I had a great opportunity to do a PhD in Dortmund and from there it somehow developed. But it became a conscious choice very late towards the end of my PhD.
- What are the most satisfying aspects of being a scholar?
- What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?
So, currently I am working on the area of health and wellbeing, specifically on self-control demands, which refers to the idea that at work especially in contemporary occupations, people need to exert self-control to overcome certain situations. For example, delivering a lecture as a teacher or professor where you need to consider every word you say, you need to create a certain impression, a certain atmosphere. And to do so you need to control your behavior, control your emotions, you need to control your language.
- How does your work contribute to the society as a whole?
I think we have quite a broad impact. I have always been proud of what I learnt from my professor, which was to always do research which has an actual impact on people’s lives. So we have quite a lot of collaborations with organizations, we do leadership development on a broad scale, we also engage with organizations in terms of redesigning, or work design. And I think and hope that through our research we can alleviate the adverse impact of demands in modern occupations
- How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
- What do you learn the most from the interaction with your students?
Absolutely. So I think students provide a lot of personal experiences and I the topics I teach are very open to people, so if you talk about self-control, it is very easy to imagine a situation where you need to control yourself after which you feel depleted. So people immediately identify with these situations, or if I tell them, for example, you are going home after a hard day and you are depleted because you have had difficult customers and then you see your partner and the dishes have not been washed, you may quarrel because you can’t control yourself.
On the other hand, professors Jaime Sabal, Christina Lubinski and Claude Chailan, who have previously visited UASM and participated in the ISS, shared their impressions about the evolution of the School, the country, and their particular courses:
- When was the first time that you participated in the Universidad de los Andes School of Management International Summer School?
Prof. Jaime Sabal
I think it was 2010, or 2009, maybe!
Prof. Christina Lubinski
I came to Bogotá for the first time in 2016 and then I came back 3 times. This is my third time here at the International Summer School.
Prof. Claude Chailan
I think it was five years ago, so it is the fourth time I am teaching here and I have taught different courses every time.
- How have you perceived the evolution of the program since the first time you came?
Well the program has not changed that much in terms of logistics and number of hours, it has always been very well organized. I have no complaints. Of course, it has the limitation that it is concentrated into 2 weeks and that can lead to problems as students do not have enough time to assimilate the material, but apart from that, I have no complaints.
Not that much. It was always super well organized and the students are very interesting and bright and it is a mixed group of undergraduate and graduate students that are very active and engaged. I think that was like that all the time. It is a little different for me now because I know where to go and how to behave so it is getting easier over time.
Well the truth is that I have not seen so many changes and that is good news because for me one of the important characteristics of the school is the quality of the students. They are extremely involved in the courses, participative, and they prepare the different sessions despite the workload being significant. So to me the good news is that precisely, and one of the reasons why I am happy to be here again is the quality of the students. As a teacher you feel that you might be useful and this of course is very satisfactory. So to answer the question precisely, I would say that the special characteristic of Uniandes is the high quality that the school provides in terms of the selection process and the value of its people and students and the fact that this has not changed dramatically is excellent news.
- What motivated you to participate again in Universidad de los Andes School of Management’s International Summer School?
- What would you consider as a salient feature of Universidad de los Andes School of Management students?
I find that the students here they have very few barriers to engaging, which I like. So they are very easy, they immediately jump on a topic if they find something interesting. In many ways it is easier then teaching in Europe or even in America because people there have are a bit hesitant at first, but I don’t feel that here. What I really like for myself is that they come with such different backgrounds, they come from different parts of the world that I have never visited that I know nothing about. They can tell me about Colombian businesses that I have never heard about and so if I see similarities or diff that helps me to refine the course material. So they definitely bring a lot to the course.
- What are you currently working on in terms of research?
I am not working on research anymore because I have just retired so I am taking it easy. But my area of expertise is basically evaluation of projects and companies and more in particular everything related to high risk and high uncertainty, like in developing countries, and the real estate businesses. The course that I am teaching here is Real Estate Finance, which emphasizes the valuation of real estate projects.
Currently, I am working on international business because I spend more than 60% of my working life outside of my home country. So I have a specific interest. Currently I am co-writing with a colleague who is a Professor in Mexico, an article on how Chinese companies are developing their presence in Africa. I know a lot about Africa, and my colleague conducted his research on Chinese companies so we joined forces and, in a nutshell, the goal of the study is to show that there is a systematic approach to how these companies are developing their activities in Africa, which might also be reproduced in other countries to reveal a pattern. I have also written about branding in the international environment.
- What changes have you perceived in Bogota/ Colombia during this visit?
Well, in general I think that Colombia is a country that is gradually improving so I enjoy that. Its not improving very quickly, but you see improvements along the way, and that is also something that is very satisfying.
Of course I follow Colombia for the peace negotiations and everything that is happening in the country. It is a crucial moment for the Colombia and so it is interesting to be able to take part in that a little. I don’t find that in the classroom very much, but you hear people talking about it here and about the way the school has developed. And then there are small things like a restaurant that has disappeared and something else pops up and things like that. Bogotá is such a big city, so I would never feel that I know it but it is nice to recognize certain things and maybe se small changes in the way the scene has changed.