Emily M. David
Assistant Professor of Management
China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)
Armed with a Ph.D. in organizational psychology, Emily David approaches business education with a lens on how personalities and diversity can positively impact organizations. This shines through in the fact the U.S.-born and raised prof launched the first ever MBA class focused on diversity at CEIBS, where she has been teaching since 2016. Currently, David is investigating how coworking can develop entrepreneurial professional identities among those working within the spaces.
“Emily is an excellent professor who has had an inordinate impact on her students,” says Byron Lee, an assistant professor of management at CEIBS. “Emily’s research and teaching point to her expertise in women leadership and diversity. Through her teaching and her selfless behavior, students have been able to reflect on what it means to be an effective leader. In her MBA classes, she has changed the lives of students by providing them with innovative perspectives on how it may feel to be disadvantaged. For example, her students experienced life in a wheelchair during a class activity. This made them reflect on how to help employees make use of their inner strengths and the importance of seeing past the more visible outer imperfections of employees. Emily focuses on designing new classes that is core to her high character. For example, she is the first professor at the school to offer a class on diversity to the MBA program.”
In her spare time, the 34-year-old is developing her boating skills in hopes to sail the entire world with her husband, Diego, after they both retire.
Current Age: 34
At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Houston
List of current MBA courses you currently teach:
- Organizational Behavior
- Leadership Journey
- Leadership: Developing High Performing Teams and Organizations
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…
I started grad school with the intention of becoming a consultant, but I made the decision to become an academic once I realized how much I enjoyed research and teaching (also see: reading/writing for a living and working in my pajamas with my dog on my lap). I decided to target business schools after reflecting back on my undergraduate experiences. The business school professors were always so polished and practical that I thought it would be a good compromise between the consulting and psychology department worlds. Also, psychology students tend to view office hours as therapy sessions.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
For most of my career, I’ve been focused on studying personality and diversity in the workplace, but lately, I’ve been really involved in projects that focus on being yourself and expressing your identity at work. One interesting finding from a working paper is that sometimes competitive environments can prevent prosocial identifying employees (those who see themselves as caring and empathetic) from helping too much for their own good. In another study, my coauthors and I are looking at how coworking spaces can help build an entrepreneurial professional identity.
If I weren’t a business school professor…
I would be a travel writer or own a Cajun restaurant on an island somewhere.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
Aside from the hard work I put into class preparation and the genuine care and energy I try to show during my lectures, I like to think that it is refreshing that I don’t shy away from pioneering new topics (e.g., teaching women’s leadership to male students in Dubai and introducing a diversity elective at CEIBS).
One word that describes my first-time teaching MBAs:
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:
There are so many! 1) Authenticity goes a lot farther than imitation in the classroom. 2) Try to publish as much as you can early on because each year it gets more difficult. 3) You are never “done” with work, so you have to set your own work/life boundaries.
Professor you most admire and why:
It is a two-way tie. First, my advisor, Alan Witt, for teaching me most of the things I know and being the first to convince me that introverts can be great public speakers. Second, Adam Grant, for making psychology and OB research so accessible and interesting to the public.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I like being forced to look for practical implications and boiling down the literature into usable nuggets of information. I also love imagining where the students will be in 5- or 10-years’ time – there is a palpable sense of excitement knowing that every time you walk into an MBA classroom you are teaching future titans of industry. This has been particularly underscored by the fact that all of my post-PhD years have been spent teaching in China and the UAE, where the economies are in such exciting times of growth and change.
What is most challenging?
When students aren’t excited about something that is purely theoretical or un-novel (but backed by lots of research). It is a real challenge to consistently find fresh material that is both not obvious and evidence-based.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student:
Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student:
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…
A big fan of rubrics.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:
What are your hobbies?
Traveling with my husband, Diego, and our families! Living and working abroad has afforded us the opportunity to visit 46 countries (and counting). We were avid boaters in Dubai and are now learning how to sail so that we can make our dream of sailing the world a reality during retirement.
How will you spend your summer?
We don’t have typical semesters so I actually have quite a few courses lined up to teach this summer. Aside from the perennial research demands, I will likely find an excuse to sneak off to somewhere fun for a few days. Croatia and Laos are next on my travel list.
Favorite place(s) to vacation:
Thailand is my favorite all-around destination for great people, food, and scenery. My top destination has to be this small dot in the Andaman sea called Koh Lipe. Surrounded by Tiffany blue waters dotted by longtail boats with colorful neckties, there is nothing to do but laze on the beach or wade through coral reefs with the backdrop of reggae tunes. Not a car or care in sight, it is pure heaven on earth!
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – I’m a sucker for history and beautiful prose.
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
Game of Thrones and Broad City. We are big fans of stand-up comedy as well.
Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist:
I’m not generally a big music person, but I usually listen to really upbeat mid-2000s era reggaetón to get my energy up for teaching.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…
Cooperation, empathy, and diversity.
In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?
Providing more individualized and tailored support to employees. In one research project, we’ve shown that women expatriates need specific support from organizations to impact their attitudes. From my personal experience, I also think that organizations should do more to challenge high-potential employees with new and lateral assignments even in the context of dual-career constraints that limit geographic mobility. In general, I think that it is never sustainable for organizations to shortchange employee needs in favor of a better-looking bottom line.
What faculty, alumni, administrators, and current students say:
“Professor Emily David has had a remarkable impact on my career and the way I perceive Organizational Behavior not only within the workplace, but also among day-to-day activities. It has accelerated my leadership potential, and driven me to achieve great milestones through the start of my post-MBA career. Her teaching style is very open, calm, patient, and regarded among students as very effective in getting the message across. She can take concepts and apply it in a form that supports retention and effective application.”
“Professor Emily is the best professor I have met ever before. She helped us truly learn, understand and absorb the knowledge. First, she is very insightful and could explain complicated things to be easily understood with key points clearly highlighted. Second, she is very good at guiding and inspiring us to think one step further about the cases, questions and learning points, especially in transposition way of thinking to figure out the logic, insights, and connections behind. After her teaching and inspiring, I feel I really learned a lot and can understand the reason of many problems I met before in my previous job experience and the workable solution for that if I meet it again in the future. What’s more, she respects and encourages different thought, she is always kind and friendly to others, just like one of my popular classmates in free time.”
“Emily is an excellent professor who has had an inordinate impact on her students. Emily’s research and teaching point to her expertise in women leadership and diversity. Through her teaching and her selfless behavior, students have been able to reflect on what it means to be an effective leader. In her MBA classes, she has changed the lives of students by providing them with innovative perspectives on how it may feel to be disadvantaged. For example, her students experienced life in a wheelchair during a class activity. This made them reflect on how to help employees make use of their inner strengths and the importance of seeing past the more visible outer imperfections of employees. Emily focuses on designing new classes that is core to her high character. For example, she is the first professor at the school to offer a class on diversity to the MBA program.”
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