2018 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Julia Milner, EDHEC Business School

Julia Milner

Professor

EDHEC Business School

When Julie Milner takes the stage, you are in for a show. Ask her students what sets her apart and the first word they’ll use will undoubtedly be “energy.” “I have never seen a professor as talented, as passionate, and as willing to engage the entire class to learn about a subject,” writes Juan Jose Gutierrez (’18). “Several afternoons, Julia watched all of us (+40 students) come into class lacking energy after an intense morning session, it was within a matter of minutes that she had infused her energy in class and had everyone engaged in her topic; This is a true talent of Julia’s.”

Boasting three master’s degrees and a Ph.D., Milner has already worked or studied in nine countries. She loves “motivated” and “open” students – so much so that she has a talent for bringing those qualities out in her students. That’s because she lives her values every moment and inspires her students to do the same.

“Professor Milner brings life to the class by her enthusiasm, her passion and her willingness to ensure that all topics are understood and implemented in real scenarios,” adds Antonella Bared. “As a student I was drawn to the topic and applied myself to go the extra-mile and apply to the fullest the information received. Professor Milner is an example of what an ideal teacher can be, passionate, committed, caring and experienced.”

Age: 36

At current institution since what year? 2016

Education: PhD Communications; MA Business, Communication, Law; MA Business Coaching and Change Management; MA Professional Education and Training; BA equivalent Business, Communication, Law; Grad. Cert. Coaching and Facilitation; Grad. Cert. Higher Education. During my PhD studies in Germany I was a visiting fellow at the Research School of Social Science at the Australian National University, a visiting Postgraduate Scholar at the University of Western Sydney’s Centre for Cultural Research and a visiting Postgraduate Researcher at the Communication Department at RMIT University and also spent time during a doctoral summer school at the Berkman Center at Harvard University in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute.

List of courses you currently teach: Managing Human Capital with Coaching, Team Work Reviews, Organisational Performance, Human Resource Management, Strategic Leadership

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…Being in business as well as having a PhD, I realized that I could bridge the gap between academia and practice. I have done lots of work as a business consultant and love the practical application. I also worked across different disciplines at Universities, e.g. Management, Psychology, Education, Marketing, Coaching, and Communication. Being a professor at a business school allows me to bridge between academia and practice and I can make a difference to both sides by ‘translating’ and leveraging both strengths.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

Leadership, is my core research topic. One of my current research projects looks at a leadership skill set that is both in high demand yet difficult to recruit: Coaching. For example, Google recently put Coaching on top of the list when it comes to effective managers. Quite often managers have risen through the ranks due to their technical expertise and are not prepared for the task of running departments and coaching others. In my research, I found that most managers overestimate their own coaching skills. Nevertheless, managers can improve their broad coaching skills in a relatively short timeframe. However, they actually have to learn the skills set of how to be good coach and receive feedback from others on their performance.

“If I weren’t a business school professor…”

In high school, I wanted to be surgeon. I actually did an internship at a medical doctor’s office and realized that I am not the best when it comes to the sight of blood…so that made that career path slightly difficult.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

Better ask my students…I do often though get comments on my enthusiasm and energy for the subjects I teach and trying to assist each individual to enhance their skill set.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Curiosity

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be?

Happy – Pharrell Williams

As a b-school professor, what motivates you? Motivated students

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:

In a way it is like being a student, you are never really finished. There is always some more work you could do. At the same time, that’s what makes it not just a job but a nice way to spend your time.

Professor you most admire and why: Adam Grant. He is able to convey his research findings to a wider audience in way that engages people and makes a difference.

STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

The interactions with the students and the practical links to the business world

What is most challenging? Finding enough time in the day

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Openness-to-experience

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Narrow-minded

What is the most impressive thing one of your students has done? Oh, they have done so many amazing things in different areas. But I am always impressed if they find a job or create their own jobs in line with their values and make a positive difference to the people around them.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Giving up too early 

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Put in the hard yards, think outside the box and show critical thinking skills.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …Tough but fair.”

“But I would describe myself as…Nice & fair.”

Fill in the blank: “If my students can be positive leaders, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Fun fact about yourself:

I have worked or studied in Australia, China, France, Germany, Belgium, Finland, UK, USA and Spain, thus these days very few people can pick my ‘true’ accent.

What are your hobbies?

Daughter and husband

How will you spend your summer? With my husband and little daughter exploring the world.

Favorite place to vacation: Sydney and Melbourne. I lived there for several years and still have lots of close friends there.

Favorite book: I don’t think I have the ‘one’ favourite book, but I like Give & Take by Adam Grant, Being Happy by Tal Ben-Sharar, and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?

Good Wife, Good Fight & Mad Men. The combination is the key.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: R&B

Bucket list item #1: I like to live in different places for a little while as you get to explore your surroundings better than with traveling alone. I still would love to live in New York during spring.

THOUGHTS OF REFLECTION

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

Becoming a Professor

What is your most memorable moment as a professor?

For me, it’s not just one moment, it’s all the little things: seeing the ‘aha moment’ in a student’s eye, the note you get from a student telling you how they applied your learnings, watching a student compliment another on a positive change they have made, the email you receive a long time after they graduate telling you that what they learned in your class made a difference to them, hearing how they flourish in their work-life and contribute to creating positive working environments.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…”

Time for student feedback

In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?

Creating and investing in positive organizational cultures and leadership styles. People less often leave jobs, they more often leave bad managers and negative organizational cultures.

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you?

Success is for me living in line with your values. So making health, happiness, freedom & adventure a priority.

Students say…

“Prof Julia had taken our class for ‘Managing Human Capital with Coaching’ and I must say she made such a complex subject seem so simple and easy to adapt. She is by far the best professor that I have ever had.

To begin with, she is extremely approachable and patient. She has an open mind which makes us comfortable to share our opinions and difficulties. This makes the learning experience very constructive. Her energy is extremely positive and contagious.

Coaching is a complex subject – facts can be stated but habits are difficult to amend. Practically everyone in the class came with the idea that advising was coaching. She made us realise and reform us in a very practical way. Instead of making it a purely theoretical class, she gradually transformed our thinking process. By the end of the module, the coaching methods were ingrained in all of us. Truly exceptional! One has to experience her sessions, to see how brilliant she is!”
Pranjali Apurva

“First of all, Professor Miler has great energy, is very enthusiastic, and shows passion. I believe these are the most important quality traits of a Professor.

Classroom sessions tend to be long during the MBA and can sometimes be tiring. Professor Miler manages to keep people’s attention throughout the session.Her classroom sessions are very interactive. We are often required to work in small groups during class. This promotes interaction with fellow students. She manages classroom interaction very well. Professor Milner involves students in the lecture by frequently asking our opinion on certain matters, not just by asking questions to have only one correct answer in return.

Professor Miler has a good flow during her lectures. She presents information relevant to the subject matter and usually follows that up with practice by letting us have a quick conversation with the person sitting aside. This approach gives students the time to have a short discussion and be able to better absorb information that can sometimes be rather complex.

Generally, MBA students greatly appreciate Professors who invite experts from the field into the classroom. During a lecture, she invited a senior coach from a global insurance company into our classroom to share with us real life experience on coaching. This was a great experience and I learnt plentiful from this session. I had great pleasure taking part in Professor Milner’s course Managing Human Capital.”
Michael Vandenberghe

“Julia is a highly energetic professor and it has been very rewarding for me to have attended one of her classes at EDHEC Business School in France. Julia’s academic background is very impressive, really applying all the knowledge she has gained over the past years.

What has really impacted me the most is her unique way in delivering the course’s content. There’s no doubt that Julia is a charismatic and energetic person making you feel motivated to follow her during the sessions. For her, it’s very easy to always find answers to questions and she can really give you vast amount of examples related to different industries, cultures and personalities type. This has been very important for the coaching course as she has an obvious understanding of every single person’s background.”
Andres Norena  

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