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Testimonial: Teaching MBA classes after DBA graduation

Slobodan Velinov
Published on
30 August 2019

One inner question every DBA student asks himself during his doctoral journey is what career to pursue after finishing a DBA study. All those who are not yet established as professors and have strong business experience secretly think of pursuing an academic career and switching suits—from a business to an academic one—a sort of exit strategy by changing a career path. In essence, the DBA course’s own pace and rhythm, which is sometimes not easy to follow, requires juggling all relevant things at once—life, family, job, and friends—and this is all in the middle of writing your doctoral thesis at the same time.

On the other side, being a professor is in a totally different league and foreign from the business life you are used to. After graduating from Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) in July 2018, I had the opportunity to become a visiting lecturer at several of GEM’s European campuses. My first experience was in May 2019 at the joint Gisma Business School and Grenoble Ecole de Management MBA program in Berlin teaching on the topic of Strategic Human Resources Management. As much as I was happy to get the chance to become a lecturer, in my head, because I have never taught students independently and my previous life and business experience hadn’t included how to teach young, clever, and bright people, different alarms suddenly started to ring: Will I be able to successfully lecture, manage my time, and transfer theory as well as my HR and business experience? Yes, I know it sounds like a mess.

In setting up my lecture agenda, I had help from experienced GEM professors in terms of how to do it, but once the classroom door is closed, you are on your own. My main goal was to make clear connections between theory and practice by providing a lot of different business examples from varied industries. As soon as I finished one area of teaching, I used a variety of business cases to cement the students’ knowledge regarding a specific topic/area. Therefore, I used a not-so-traditional approach and asked the students what was good and what could be better in the lecture, and they gave me super-valuable advice. In the given period of time for delivering the lecture, I did my best to share my over 19 years of business experience mixed with theory to provide students with the tools they may find useful in their own businesses and industries.

I can say after completing the MBA teaching and finding the students were satisfied with me as their professor, I have really enjoyed transferring knowledge and experience with MBA students. Suddenly, all the puzzle pieces fell into place, and I realized the DBA journey really gave me more value than just the title of doctor. All the professors who taught me the DBA modules simply incorporated their way of teaching into me as a student. Therefore, the colleagues from different walks of life and experiences give you values that sometimes cannot be measured; they simply broaden your horizons. Your perseverance in writing your DBA thesis will continue in a different way: you will never deliver less to your students than is expected for a certain course.

Eventually, you have an obligation to do more because you are a representative of GEM and, this time, “wearing” a professor suit. For me, being a professor is a formidable experience that I have really enjoyed, and I give my best in the hope that my students enjoy my classes and the learning process as much as I do. Sometimes, as professors, we forgot one small and simple thing: learning should be about joy—the joy of life.

Slobodan Velinov DBA graduate 2018

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