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Faculty Insights

WSB Faculty Share Their Expertise During 2024 Business Writer in Residence Week

By Wisconsin School of Business | Photography by Paul L. Newby II

May 6, 2024

Professor Barry Gerhart speaks during a BWIR panel
Professor Barry Gerhart shares insights during a panel on the future of work and the workplace.

Wisconsin School of Business faculty shared their insights and expertise during the 2024 Business Writer in Residence (BWIR) program, an annual multi-day event where faculty, staff, and students connect with a visiting journalist of national prominence. This year, the school hosted Lauren Weber of The Wall Street Journal in the first BWIR program since the pandemic.

Weber facilitated three faculty panels on the future of business in relation to society, leadership, and the workplace. Panelists included WSB faculty and distinguished alumni in industry, with each session incorporating a roundtable discussion and audience Q&A.

The three panels were:

“The Future of Society: Reimagining Corporate Responsibility in a Rapidly Changing World”

Panelists included Fabio Gaertner, professor of accounting and information systems; Erik Mayer, assistant professor of finance; Ann Terlaak, associate professor of management and human resources; and Christopher Timmins, professor of real estate and urban land economics.

Associate Professor Ann Terlaak weighs in during a panel on society, the changing role of corporations, and sustainability.

Over the course of an hour, the panel discussed the changing role of corporations, ESG, and sustainability. When Weber asked the panel what innovation has the potential to “move the needle” on a particular issue, Timmins shared this perspective:

“It kind of depends on if you want to come at housing, for instance, from an environmental or from more of a social justice point of view. But coming at it from, let’s say, affordability and justice—the manufactured housing industry right now. Kind of specific, but that is where I see the biggest strides being made in putting up housing at an affordable price in mass quantities. … Why is it illegal in some places, with some mobile homes zoned out in a lot of communities? Part of the reason why has a lot to do with rules that were set up in the 1970s post Fair Housing Act when communities were looking for ways to prevent low-income and minority residents from moving into their neighborhoods. You see a lot of those rules are still in place today. So, there are a lot of problems there to deal with, such as the manufactured housing side, that are a barrier to technological innovation and that would be transformative if they were more collaborative.”

“The Future of Leadership: Building Agile, Engaged Teams Through Inclusive Practices”

The roundtable included Kurt Kober, WSB External Advisory Board member, general manager of apparel and vice president of commercial strategy and planning, The Honest Company; Jirs Meuris, assistant professor of management and human resources; and Chia-Jung Tsay, associate professor of management and human resources. Panelists shared their thoughts on topics ranging from leadership and inclusion to work culture and diversity in the workplace.

Kurt Kober of The Honest Company shares insights during a panel on leadership and workplace culture.

When Weber posed a question to the panel on what they think constitutes leadership versus inclusive leadership, Tsay shared an example from her own classroom experience:

“I think even 10 years ago, when conversations about leadership came up in my MBA classrooms, a lot of it was about having initiative, having agency, being assertive. But in recent years, I’ve seen some shift in what the students value—thinking about compassion and empathy, being willing to listen. It’s allowing people to reconsider ‘what is a leader’ and to change or expand views of what a leader could mean.”

“The Future of Work: How Technological and Social Disruption Impact the Workplace and Workforce”

Weber sat down with Barry Gerhart, professor of management and human resources; Katie Krueger, senior lecturer of marketing; and Enno Siemsen, professor of operations and information management. The group discussed topics ranging from emerging technologies and trends to workplace issues and rapid change.

Professor Enno Siemsen makes a point during a panel on work, technological advances, and social disruption.

In response to Weber’s question on some of the most compelling challenges in the workplace currently, Krueger shared the following:

“One of the things I think is really unique about this moment in time is that it’s one of the first times that we’ve had five generations active in the workplace at the same time. That is creating a lot of interesting challenges and opportunities for people in terms of communication and motivation. That’s something that people are talking about a lot.”

Since 1989, WSB has been a part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Journalist in Residence program.