Why do we make the decisions we make? This is the question at the center of Laura Zimmerman’s academic life. It was the basis of her entire PhD research at LSE’s Department of Management, which focused on customer decision making. Armed with an array of insights into buyer patterns and consumer psychology, she was a perfect fit for IE University’s School of Human Sciences and Technology.
Laura joined the HST department in 2018, as part of a tenure track. Her research has evolved to combine aspects of consumer psychology, judgment, and decision making with the role technology has on well-being. Specifically, she is interested in discovering how digital technologies can be used to improve customer well-being, and to help both businesses and individuals make better decisions. While new technologies can often be good for us, it’s worth asking: under what conditions do they hinder our productivity and well-being?
With a natural passion for teaching, a respect for IE University’s reputation, and a love for Madrid, Laura is in her element at HST. She enjoys interacting with the excellent student body, and credits student-professor interaction with further awakening her passion for the relationship between research and teaching. She sees each aspect of academia as mutually beneficial, each helping the other to produce greater levels of knowledge. This is heightened by the institution’s international pool of students—which adds an extra flavor to the classroom discussions.
Laura teaches courses on Consumer Behavior and Research Methods for the Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media, alongside a workshop on Attention for High Performance for all HST master’s programs. In these courses, Laura is always conscious to provide students with hands-on knowledge about methods and tools that can directly help them in their careers. She believes that this will empower them to make strategic, evidence-based decisions as future marketing managers, policy makers, and leaders. What’s more, she strongly believes the learning environment should be fun, interactive, and engaging. This creates the right conditions to push intellectual boundaries and challenge students to become open-minded critical thinkers.
This balance of fun and pushing boundaries is something Laura exercises in her personal life. She is a verified, lifelong outdoor enthusiast who enjoys running, hiking, and skiing—an activity she has done since she was three years old. Apart from that, she also loves to travel, documenting her various adventures with an analog-film camera. She believes this adds a level of excitement that taking a million smartphone photos can’t replicate.
In the end, Laura’s main piece of advice for students is to be brave. She encourages them to say yes to things and to not limit their options because they think they might not be successful. We will always be confronted with obstacles but, with the right mindset, they can always be overcome.