Teaching soft skills an important aspect of business

3 February 2014

Kathryn Pavlovich

New professor appointment: Professor Kathryn Pavlovich, Waikato Management School.

An academic who challenges traditional forms of management is the newest professor at the University of Waikato Management School. She’s Kathryn Pavlovich, from the Department of Strategy and Human Resources.

Professor Pavlovich says she grew up around the family business – Pavlovich Coachlines – and her doctorate, completed many years ago now, studied the collaboration and co-operation of businesses centred around Waitomo Caves tourism.

Making a positive difference

“Business today is so much more than looking after shareholders,” she says. “It’s about having a meta-level purpose. I’m interested in the transforming and transcending nature of business, where people and businesses work collaboratively and strive to make a positive difference to society through leadership and their management practices.”

Alongside her teaching and research, Professor Pavlovich is currently program chair of the Academy of Management, a US-based global network of management scholars. The Academy has about 20,000 members from 100 countries. “The Management, Spirituality and Religion Division has been the fastest growing in the Academy, and it’s the development of our inner technologies - spirituality, reflection, mindfulness and conscious leadership - that particularly interests me,” says Professor Pavlovich.

Leadership skills

She says people might think these soft skills aren’t important, but they’re actually much more difficult to learn than hard skills. “Things like self-awareness, how you critically evaluate how you act; how you make more ethical, sustainable and transforming decisions.

“I’m encouraged by the number of students who come to us thinking this way, my job is to help shape their thinking.”

Organising through Empathy is Professor Pavlovich’s latest book, co-edited with Dr Keiko Krahnke from the University of Northern Colorado and published by Routledge.

Other new professorial appointments announced this week at the University of Waikato are Brian Gabbitas and Kim Pickering from Engineering, biological scientist Brendan Hicks, historian Cathy Coleborne and John Williams from the Faculty of Education.

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