Great, Time

Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

There were a lot of great profs at the Western Business School (now the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University) when I did my MBA and PhD there, 1987-1992. I was in Organization Behavior (and Organization Theory, midway between OB and Strategy). Harry Lane was my thesis advisor and led the USA/Canada trade initiative. As Harry’s student I was trained as a US/Canada comparative management expert. Had I gone to McGill, it would have been in that capacity to replace someone on the verge of retirement.

Joe DiStefano was my mentor. He was a great teacher and took on the responsibility for preparing me to teach comparative management when I graduated. Joe and Harry were the co-authors of one of the top two comparative management texts. I wrote a couple of cases each for both Joe and Harry. The ones for Harry ended up in one edition of their book.

John Howard taught us small group dynamics and did research on type A and type B personalities. He was a Freudian OB guy and if Harry hadn’t accepted me as his student, I’d have asked John next. John was a funny guy. My impression was that he was a type A hard-driving person trying so hard to reform himself into a relaxed type B person after finding in his research that type B’s lived longer and happier lives.

I remember he also told us he had found in his research that a certain type of A personality actually lived longer if they smoked. He suppressed that result so as not to give ammunition to the tobacco industry. I thought that was an ethical decision since he had found that for other type A’s it was a negative effect. He smoked, I thought. He was often playing with a pipe, though I don’t recall him ever smoking it.

Or maybe I’d have asked Dick Hodgson. And maybe I should have. He was the Leadership prof and a spellbinding teacher who could make a 90 minute class go by in what seemed like a few seconds. I remember I first met Dick when he wandered into our section classroom at lunch and wrote “Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Bucke” on the white board, asking if any of us 1st year MBA’s had read it. When I said I had, Dick got interested in me and recruited me to be his grader.

In retrospect, maybe I should have asked Dick ahead of Harry, but Dick had a reputation. I had heard that with a previous PhD student, he had demanded the guy do further research when interesting results had been found, adding an extra year to the student’s education. At age 36 or 37, the last thing I wanted was an extra year as a student. But Dick was a special guy – anyone whose read Bucke’s book must be, and maybe that’s what he thought in my case too. And as a prof, I’ve researched leadership. Probably I’d have been more successful doing it had I gone with Dick. It’s a regret. I guess we all have them.

Nice to reflect, with appreciation and thanks for all that they did. I wonder if 25 or 30 years from now, a student from Beedie will recall some, or any, of his or her former professors with such affection. I’m doubtful. Perhaps they would be doubtful, as well. Hopefully then, not now.

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About brucelarochelle

Practising Lawyer and Part-Time University Instructor (Accounting, Commercial Law, Organizational Behaviour); Part-Time Federal Tribunal Member. Non-practising Chartered Professional Accountant (Chartered Accountant and Certified Management Accountant).
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