Mahesh Subramony

Professor, Department of Management

Mahesh Subramony

What year did you start working at NIU?
2009

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
Sycamore, IL

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I have a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from Central Michigan University.

In which department(s) do you teach?
Department of Management

What do you like about working at NIU?
First and foremost, my values are completely aligned with NIU's mission. As a young person growing up in India, I felt validated for the very first time in my life when I started college. Very much like NIU, my college in India catered to the needs of those who might not have had all the opportunities in their lives to develop an impressive academic profile. However, my professors provided me more than knowledge, they respected my perspective and mentored me in honing it further. I believe that NIU encourages me to carry these gifts forward by developing my own students. Second, I find this university to be warm and welcoming to all. Third, I see the immense potential of NIU for influencing the world and solving its myriad problems. 

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Always think beyond what you thought was possible: Take courses that challenge you (not just what you have to take), ask faculty about their research and try to get involved in it early, join student organizations, read one more article than what was assigned by your professor, build authentic connections with your classmates and seek out opportunities for experiential learning (learning by doing).

Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
All my classes have an engaged learning project requirement. This year, my students in the consulting class are working with a Chicago-based organization to identify the reasons why certain employees leave while others stay, as well as helping them redesign their performance management process. In my own research, I am working with a team of researchers to identify the causes and consequences of passenger incivility directed toward flight attendants. We are using interview data and an airline company's complaint database to triangulate incivility incidents. This is a study with clear real-world implications.

What do you hope students take away from your class?
I use a quote by the great philosopher, John Dewey: "The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think.” I want my students to come away from my class as thought leaders,  people who understand the big picture but also can hone into specific aspects of a problem; build upon the ideas/perspectives of others; and find solutions that are consistent with the values of enhancing human potential, compassion and evidence-focus.

What is your favorite campus event?
Without a doubt, that would be the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day (URAD), now called the Conference on Undergraduate Research and Engagement (CURE). This is an incredible event that showcases student-faculty collaboration, community engagement projects and research excellence. 

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
In February 2019, one of my students, Trevor Wehner, and a former student, Clay Parks, were cruelly snatched away from us in an act of workplace gun violence. During that time period, I saw NIU rise and take care of its own with love and compassion. Students, faculty, staff and alumni supported each other, raised funds for the Golden Heart scholarship and came together to affirm our innate goodness. That tragedy revealed the true Huskie spirit.

Who has influenced your professional path?
There have been numerous people who have influenced my professional path. A professor in my undergraduate program who encouraged me to read widely. Another professor who was responsive to issues I was facing in working with an internship supervisor. My Ph.D. advisor who taught me to give my time freely to my students (He would move away from his computer, sit and look at me, and ask me how I was doing, not just how the project was going). They were all authentic, had high standards and showed deep respect for my potential. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I wanted to be a performer, a monk and a writer, among others. Depending on the day, you will get to see each of these facets.

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am the faculty advisor of the student chapter of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This organization promotes employee well-being and performance in the workplace.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I like to meditate, read, exercise, listen to music (rock, jazz, grunge, Indian film), watch movies/shows and chat with my wife and daughter. 

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