Assistant Professor of Economics and Strategic Management
University of California-San Diego Rady School of Management
What happens when someone with Ph.D. in psychology ends up in a B-school? You get fascinating research looking into how expressing emotions like compassion or pride in the workplace can create meaningful connections. Or how body language and nonverbal behaviors can impact first impressions and potential business deals. That is exactly what you get in Chris Oveis’ core Leadership courses at the Rady School of Management at the University of California-San Diego.
“Professor Oveis has a remarkable presence and unique teaching style in his Leadership class,” one student said. “He encourages every single of students to interact proactively and facilitate discussion to make us learn from the cohort. His lecture is extremely well organized, dynamic and attractive. Discussion point is very clear and the evidence introduced in class is well supported based on scientific research. He always embodies leadership when he teaches the class. I’ll definitely recommend his class for the next year MBA students.”
Oveis has won multiple awards in research and teaching. He received dozens of thoughtful recommendations and nominations from colleagues, current students, and alumni and was exemplifies exactly what this project sets out to feature. In his spare time, Oveis is hanging with his kids or taking advantage of the weather, outdoor playground, and brewery scene San Diego is famous for.
Current Age: 38
At current institution since what year? 2011
Education: UC Berkeley, Ph.D. Psychology; University of Virginia, B.A. Psychology
List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Leadership
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I wasn’t focused on working in a business school–UC-SD Rady was the draw. It’s a great environment—interdisciplinary, interactive, challenging, and fun. Across areas, the faculty are amazing at what they do and great to work with, and really talented new faculty show up every year. My work has benefited from and been shaped by new perspectives from my colleagues.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
My research focuses on the role of emotion in social interactions. Right now, I’m trying to understand how people deal with their anxiety in performance situations, and how this affects their teammates. To study this, my team and I constructed a “Shark Tank” in our lab in which pairs of teammates design and pitch products while their physiological responses are measured. We found that people who are trained to think of their anxiety/arousal as helpful rather than harmful show more efficient cardiovascular responding when pitching a product, and more strikingly so do their teammates.
If I weren’t a business school professor… I would form a band and play on Top of the Pops
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I want all of my students to learn as much as possible, so I try and make each meeting memorable and attention-grabbing in a different way, and I try to make each assignment meaningful. I also want my students to have extremely active conversations where everyone gets involved, everyone listens to each other, and everyone constructively engages with each other, and I work really hard to facilitate these things. Finally, I try to identify what is important within each cohort to tailor the material a bit to help meet the students’ goals. Overall, I’m trying to make my course fun and useful for as many students as possible.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: Hot! San Diego had an unusual heat wave that week, which knocked out the air conditioning in the room. At first, I thought I was just nervous, but when I realized I wasn’t the only one sweating we found another room and carried on with an awesome first meeting.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That teaching MBA’s is a lot of fun! No two classes that I teach are alike, and every cohort of students keeps the material fresh by bringing in their own perspectives and concerns.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
The students at UCSD Rady are really engaged and intelligent and have such a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. I learn a lot from them. The most enjoyable thing is seeing how much effort our students put into helping each other achieve their goals.
What is most challenging?
The 5-day, 30-hour version of my leadership course is a fun physical and mental challenge for both me and the students. It’s also my favorite format, in part because it’s the first course they take. We all get to celebrate and commiserate with each other at the end of the week.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: There’s not really a type. I care about all of my students, and can think of a lot of favorites with extremely different backgrounds, personalities, approaches to the course, etc.
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:
What are your hobbies?
These days I mostly get into whatever my kids are into. One thing I like to do is check out new breweries with friends. San Diego has more than 100 breweries — one great organic brewery, Protector, was even started by a Rady alum.
How will you spend your summer?
Learning all of the intricacies of the PJ Masks series. I have some theories about the origins of the Ninjalinos.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: I’m grateful to live in San Diego, where I’m a 15-minute drive from any number of beaches. Spending the day at Coronado with my family — morning on the beach, lunch at Miguel’s, eat an ice cream cone, and back in time for naptime — that’s a pretty awesome mini vacation.
Favorite book(s): The Gruffalo
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
I’m pretty into the Ducktales revival, and Sharp Objects and Russian Doll were great. Also, The Great Mouse Detective is the most underrated Disney film of all time is a hill I will die on.
Favorite type of music: 2005 Indie Pop.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Free tuition, free coffee, and Dippin’ Dots.
Faculty and administrators say:
“Chris Oveis is a valued professor at the Rady School of Management, earning an ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award in 2016 from MBA students. His research focusing on emotions has been frequently cited by other scholars and he received a $1.1 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study the social and emotional factors that make employees thrive in the workplace. In addition, his research has been featured in stories by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and Psychology Today.”
“Professor Oveis has a remarkable presence and unique teaching style in his Leadership class. He encourages every single of students to interact proactively and facilitate discussion to make us learn from the cohort. His lecture is extremely well organized, dynamic and attractive. The discussion point is very clear and the evidence introduced in class is well supported based on scientific research. He always embodies leadership when he teaches the class. I’ll definitely recommend his class for the next year MBA students.”
“Chris Oveis has a passion for teaching leadership and researching the role of emotion, power and nonverbal behavior in social interactions. Students look forward to his classes in a way that is rare in an MBA program, never knowing what to expect. He mixes a healthy but appropriate dosage of humor with serious topics. One of his favorite techniques is to lecture to one side of the room, and, without breaking eye contact with that side, asks a question of an unsuspecting person on the opposite side. It always kept us on our toes. Chris teaches to inform the students, to make them empathetic to serious issues, to make them aware of the impact of their experiences on new situations and decision-making, and to provide positive leadership tools. Most importantly, Chris conveys a great deal of important knowledge in a way that his students are not inclined to forget.”