Faculty Spotlight: Cristina Simon

Meet one of IE Business School’s top professors.

IE Business School professor Cristina Simon isn’t your run-of-the-mill professor. Not only does she maintain an enviable rhythm of research published in top academic journals like Human Resource Management and MIT Sloan Management, but student evaluations always land her in the top ranks of teaching excellence. And—she maintains sterling links with the corporate world.

The Financial Times characterized her as an example of an “embedded professor” that provided independent advice and fostered evidence-based decision-making. Her years spent working for consultants such as Coopers & Lybrand and Ernst & Young have given her a distinct advantage in this respect, as well as the 10 years she spent as the Head of Inditex’s People Management.

She has held multiple positions at IE since joining in 2000-- Vice Dean for Faculty, Dean of the School of Psychology, Head of the Organizational Behavior department, and currently Academic Director of our alliance with Brown University, the IE Brown Executive MBA. She has also been a Visiting Researcher at MIT Sloan School of Business and Boston College Management School.

Meet one of IE Business School’s top professors.

What brought you to IE? Where were you before? And what keeps you here?

After working as manager of EU projects I completed my doctorate degree and joined a large consulting company for six years. IE (just a Business School then) was interested in hiring PhDs with practical experience and I was a fit. And so far, I haven’t found a better place to work. IE is a unique combination of opportunities for growth, variety in projects and fun at work. I don’t remember an single day of boredom here.

Have you ever had an a-ha moment while teaching that furthered your research? What was it?

I am a psychologist, so every class offers me possibilities of reflecting on my discipline. I work a lot at the executive levels, and that provides me with a whole myriad of perspectives and stimulates my curiosity about different industries and organizational functions. And the most insightful part of teaching is that you become a privileged witness of social changes -you know, every course I am one year older, but the students are always the same age!

What book do you wish your students would read before taking your class and why?

I would probably like them to have read a couple of books that stimulate their self-awareness not just in their managerial roles but also as human beings. A classical text I really love is Live and learn: an introduction to the psychology of growth and change in everyday life by Guy Claxton. Also, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is eye-opening especially for students with a pure economic background.

Please name one of your articles you feel addresses the most important issues in for IE alumni?

My paper Workforce analytics: A case study of scholar–practitioner collaboration in Human Resource Management about HR Analytics and how companies can join forces with academics to produce valuable knowledge for both parts. I really think this type of alliance would be fruitful for practitioners. There is some joint work, but unfortunately we have not been able to bring this type of alliance to the next level.

Whose research of your IE colleagues do you find interesting? Why?

I enjoy very much interdisciplinary research, and to me Innovation and Knowledge Sharing are particularly interesting areas because of the relevance of the human component. My colleague Elena Revilla has been doing consistently excellent research in both areas for a long time now.

Tell us one personal thing about yourself that none of your students know. A hobby, sport or talent? Strange fact? Unusual interest?

Classical music is my passion. I started playing the piano and studied musicology as a way of experiencing music in every possible way. I am also a compulsive reader of many different genres according to my mood. Both music and literature are so infinite that they cover most of my free time. Also, I live in the countryside, so I am fortunate to contemplate the passing of the seasons while having long walks and do gardening--my tulips and roses are about to flower in the next weeks.