Taking a course with the relationship whisperer

By the time Goizueta undergraduate seniors take his class, many of Professor Stephen Nowicki’s students have prestigious jobs waiting for them post-graduation. They’re focused on future careers.

It’s Nowicki’s job to slow them down.

In his popular seminar, “Relationships and Leadership in a Personal and Professional Environment,” the adjunct professor of organization & management and Candler Emeritus professor of psychology challenges seniors to deeply consider their relationships on campus before they leave in order to hone their people skills in business. He requires students to meet with mentors, professors—even their own parents—before graduation, to tell people what they have meant to them and listen for helpful feedback. Many find this difficult.

“We don’t like endings,” explains Nowicki, who joined Emory in 1969 after interning at Duke Medical Center. Why should busy seniors connect with people they will leave in May? “It’s an opportunity to explore how they are in relationships,” he says. “The knowledge they gain can deeply impact their later business careers as well as their personal lives.” After each conversation, students document their progress in a weekly journal.

“Endings, like graduation, are pivotal learning points,” Nowicki continues. “These conversations give you feedback you wouldn’t otherwise have heard. You become a better listener. And perhaps a better leader.”

“I had never assessed how I interacted with others,” says Gaby Suarez 15BBA. But Nowicki’s supportive and warm demeanor encouraged her to dive into intimate conversations. They became “the highlight of my week,” says the Deloitte consultant, who learned how to relate more fully with people.

Andrew Cooper 13BBA, head of digital at Beltology, an online-only stretch belt company, says the class was profound. “Nowicki showed me that although there are events beyond my control, how I react to change is completely up to me.”

Both alums still keep in touch with Nowicki, and it’s easy to see why.

“I give students tools for success in business,” notes Nowicki, “but I’m sneaking in tools for a better all-around personal life.”—LW

Room 338 has received an upgrade and a makeover. With its bright, open windows; whiteboard-covered walls; and interactive technology coming this summer, the new innovation classroom will be a center of group learning and creation. “I truly believe that this new space is a physical invitation to students to fully engage in interactive, hands-on education,” says Andrea Hershatter, senior associate dean of the BBA Program and senior lecturer of organization & management. “What I love best about this room is that it mirrors the BBA Program: it’s fun, intimate, and collaborative, yet definitely provides a space where serious work takes place!”

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