2018 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Paulina Roszkowska, Hult International Business School

Paulina Roszkowska

Associate Professor of Finance

Hult International Business School, San Francisco & Warsaw School of Economics

Paulina Roszkowska maintains a simple benchmark for classroom success.

“If my students can explain finance to their grandmothers, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

By that measure, this Hult finance professor is succeeding splendidly says Sumana Samuk. “She does not only teach her students how to use a formula, solve a problem or interpret Data,” she writes. “She really makes them realize the importance of finance. Taking my own example, coming from a pure digital marketing background, I did not understand simple things like whether I should pay for an asset in cash or get a loan to do so. Paulina redefined Finance class to be ‘Simple analysis can take a long way in making some important life’s decisions’. This got me interested to take up ‘Corporate Finance’ as a major in future.”

A Ph.D. from the Warsaw School of Business, Roszkowska previously taught at the Haas School of Business. At Hult, she is celebrated for both her intensive technical knowledge and her ability to bring students together from all walks of life. “Paulina always worked with us together understanding the concepts rather than telling something in front of the classroom,” notes Lea Gill. “I was very impressed how she was able to harmonize a group of students with different backgrounds, such as investment bankers on the one side and students with no professional experience on the other side. Moreover, she used our cultural diversity in the classroom to show us the manifoldness of corporate finance across the globe.”

Age: 35

At current institution since what year? 2016

Education: (title of degree, area of study, institution and year obtained) PhD, Economics, Warsaw School of Economics, 2010

List of courses you currently teach: Financial Management, Corporate Finance, Ethics in Finance

Twitter handle: Don’t have one.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…I was a first-year undergrad student and I got amazed by one female professor teaching statistics. I did not expect to be driven by the subject, but she proved me wrong. Then, I saw more and more amazing professors who inspired me throughout my studies, and finally I wanted to become one.”

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

My research is primarily focused on capital markets: from the companies’ side – business financing decisions, and from the investors’ side – IPOs, asset pricing. I am very curious in analyzing emerging markets (Polish) to see if things work there as they work in the advanced markets, like the U.S. I am also interested in the intersection of financial and ethical dimension of taking business decisions. This interest was strongly influenced by my time spent at the IESE Business School, especially by the discussions and work with Professor Domènec Melé.

If I weren’t a business school professor…

Professional golf player… Doing a PhD seemed easier though 😉

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

Enthusiasm. It is about the students, about pushing each other towards new, innovative thinking, and about the subject matter.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Thrilling

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

As a b-school professor, what motivates you? Curiosity of students. When they engage and ask difficult questions, not only do I feel fulfilled and needed, but they also motivate me to learn more and develop myself as a person.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: It truly is hard work, but also extremely gratifying!

Professor you most admire and why: Professor Gregory La Blanc (Haas School of Business). He engages the audience not only with topical classes, tremendous knowledge and excellent delivery, but his teaching also consistently demonstrates joyful exploration of ideas and intellectual playfulness in connecting classroom theory to real world case studies. Professor Terry Odean (Haas School of Business) for his amazing capability to advance the research frontier in areas that truly seem fun to him, which is yet another proof that if you love what you do, you become successful.

STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Showing them new things, observing how they react, and engaging in interesting discussions in the classroom.

What is most challenging? Teaching a finance course is like a round of golf: you need to be patient, well organized, focused but relaxed, consistent, and always perform 100% until the last ‘hole’. Managing the variety of backgrounds and personalities in the classroom when you teach introductory finance course is also a challenge. I must say that the Dean’s Office at Hult San Francisco is of great help, as they not only assist with academic functions, but also consistently focus on making the program accessible to students of different backgrounds.

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Unmotivated

What is the most impressive thing one of your students has done? One of my students got so inspired that he decided to also pursue a PhD. Currently, we work on research projects together.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? I do find chronic lateness disruptive. In the past, I made a standing rule that anyone regularly late must publicly say a joke before taking their seat, which helped.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Think multi-dimensionally—studying finance does not mean only doing correct calculations. Rather, it is about making material observations, seeing links, and thinking big picture in order to make a sound financial decision.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…assertive.

But I would describe myself as…positive.

Fill in the blank: “If my students can explain finance to their grandmothers, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Fun fact about yourself: When my car broke down in the middle of the Bay Bridge while driving to my MBA students early in the morning, I had a police officer giving me a ride to school, so I would not miss Capital Budgeting class.

What are your hobbies? Golf, skiing, diving, cooking

How will you spend your summer? Traveling with some active time and many lazy coffees in the narrow streets of the Southern European villages

Favorite place to vacation: Mediterranean, almost every summer

Favorite book: I am very fond of Spanish authors: Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Angel’s Game), Carla Montero (Una dama en juego) or La tabla esmeralda. Quasi-professionally but also for fun: Richard Thaler’s Misbehaving.

What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? “Sherlock” – it’s nerdy, intriguing and unpredictable.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Lounge, electro. I like artists that are usually know for only a few songs, like Télépopmusik, Variety Lab, Jean Jacques Smoothie, Kamp! Once I like a song…I can drive people around me crazy playing it 37 times in a row.

Bucket list item #1: Play the Old Course in St Andrews

THOUGHTS OF REFLECTION

What professional achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud when alumnae come to see me (or write me) after their program to say how they appreciate the courses they have taken with me. Finance is difficult, especially for ‘poets’, but I see many of those challenging themselves. After some time, they realize how our classes shape the way they think and design their after-MBA professional life. That is the biggest reward for me.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? The most memorable moment was when a student, dentist by a former education, came to me after the introductory financial course and said that she is extending the finance journey with me, having elected Corporate Finance course. She was still full of fear, whether she would handle it, but at the same time she was driven by the possibility of development in fields that made her go out of her comfort zone. I am truly happy to see that I can make significant impact on some young minds, and that students put trust in me that extra hours in our classroom will enrich their lives.

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

Out-of-the-classroom opportunities for students to work on projects and other initiatives, and for professors to engage in those endeavors (fortunately, at Hult this is already a common practice).

And much less of this…

Grading

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

I admire companies that have a long-term vison and hold on to it irrespective of the current pressures of the environment. Sacrificing short-term goals for long-term value creation has proven to work for some already. Still, many companies cannot resist external pressure for quarterly results, etc. I truly enjoy learning about companies that feel confident about their strategy and are very persistent in pursuing it. Inviting such professionals into my classroom to share their experience with my students is an excellent complement to how I try to teach finance. (The same, nota bene, relates to MBA students and all of us…in life…)

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

Growing a happy family, being able to contribute to students’ development and never stopping developing myself is what I consider success enough. Success in not a one big thing for me, rather a sum of small every-day positive moments.

Students and faculty say…

“She is excellent in emotional intelligence, full of empathy, understand the needs of introverts and poor English skills students. I was chosen to present our team’s group work with another Chinese student, and it was my first time as the major presenter during the past 6 months of the program. I have the willing to present, but never convinced myself to do so because I was very afraid of failing the team. I also realized the chosen presenters by Paulina are those who are less confident in making presentations, just like me. I have a precious chance to challenge myself, which is really beneficial to my career as a starting point.”
LIU Enmei  

“Paulina was my teacher for Corporate Finance at HULT. How she combines her deep scientific knowledge with a practical perspective from the professional world is very unique and extremely valuable for the students. We always worked on case studies as well as supporting scientific research to understand corporate finance. Students’ discussions and presentations were the standard – encouraging to reflect – critically!

Paulina is not only an excellent teacher, but also a great human being. She took the time to teach us Finance in and outside the classroom. She made herself available to solve all our questions, but what made her remarkable to me and other classmates is that she inspired us to try harder to achieve our professional goals.”
Lidia Gomez

“Prof. Paulina Roszkowska is the youngest faculty member teaching finance in our organization. She has a great ability to help students understand complex concepts. She successfully teaches small groups of students as well as large classes (+70 students) including domestic and international students. Prof. Roszkowska actively promotes class engagement and encourages all the students to contribute to discussions. Students are praising professor’s level of preparedness and her teaching methods (cases, in class exercises, group presentations, etc.). Prof. Roszkowska’s current research supports the high level of relevance of the topics she teaches. She always inspires students and mentors them to achieve their professional goals.”
Monica Farcas, Ph.D.
Associate Dean | Boston

“Professor Paulina had a great approach to teaching her class. She used companies that students would be able to recognise as the basis of her examples. Furthermore she was very approachable in class and outside hours to discuss topics in the news, job searching tactics and relative industry research. This really aided myself, as I come from an arts major. The Financial industry, therefore, is a new industry for me to come into. Somehow, Professor Paulina managed to make complete valuation methods such as DCF very easy to understand. I now also find it very easy to partake in equity research, as her class and explanations outside of class enabled me to grasp the equity valuation sector. She guided me to relevant resources, books, extracurricular exercises, all to increase my aptitude in valuation and equity research. Without her help and guidance I would not have felt confident commencing my new found financial career.”
Michelle Lenaerts

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