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Ten Questions

September 6, 2011 4:31 pm

Ten Questions - Laura Guillen

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laura guillen

Laura Guillen: "My favourite place to teach would be in a theatre"

Laura Guillen is an assistant professor at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin. She has also conducted research looking at women in senior management positions and the cultural and corporate constraints they face to reach the C-suite.

Prof Guillen has a masters degree and a PhD from Esade Business School. She was also awarded a Marie Curie scholarship from the European Commission for post-doctoral studies at Insead.

In her spare time, Prof Guillen enjoys swimming, yoga and writing short stories.

1. Do you have a teaching routine?

When the teaching semester approaches, I put lots of thinking into the course design. I go to many virtual libraries to make sure that I have read the latest books that have had an impact on the business world. Then, I like to spend time in a cafe close to where I live without my computer, writing down the big themes and the key messages I want to say.

2. What is the strangest thing you have done when teaching?

In an in-company training session, I confronted the chief executive in front of his team. I was never asked again to do another session in that company.

3. What would you do if you were dean for the day?

I would organise a conference, inviting scholars from other European business schools to ESMT, to share ideas and projects. Hopefully, this would trigger long-term relationships among professors and would also serve as a platform for increasing interaction between European business schools.

4. What is your biggest lesson learnt?

Hard work and great ideas aren’t always rewarded immediately. People in this profession need to develop a thick skin in order to learn to accept criticism from other scholars. Persistence is an invaluable asset.

5. What advice would you give to women in business?

I think that women bring many skills to organisations that are precious these days. But, the greatest challenge is for women to affirm themselves and raise their voices to be heard by their male counterparts. Women in business might be better off focusing on maintaining their female identities rather than suppressing them to emulate male leadership styles.

6. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?

My research shows that women working in male-dominated environments experience identity interference between their roles as women and their roles as managers, which causes them lower levels of self-esteem and more work-related stress. I think that it is of particular importance to strengthen women’s self-confidence in their ability to succeed at work.

7. What is the last book you read?

Emmaus by Alessandro Baricco. He is one of my favourite writers, but this last novel was a bit disappointing. I will wait for the next one in the hope of finding the intensity of his previous novels.

8. What is your favourite business book?

Even though it is full of controversy and numerous scholars criticise the lack of rigour in some of its statements, I think that Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman was the book that had a most powerful influence on me. It has been a bestseller since 1995 and highlighted many questions that I’m still interested in.

9. Where would be your favourite place to teach?

My favourite place to teach would be in a theatre, for example at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. The concept of “play” can be very powerful if we use it correctly. To face an unfamiliar situation and be a novice again can serve to enhance learning. I think that professors at business schools need to work hard to provide new ways of teaching to their students.

10. What are your future plans?

I would like to continue at ESMT for many years, balancing teaching and research. At some point, I would also like to work in China for a while.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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