Students gain from professor's past
May 30, 2012
As an NFL enthusiast, Adjunct Instructor of Management, Robert (Bob) Piazza finds many similarities between sports and his courses on talent management and organizational behavior.
“Sports are analogous to business in that training, mental and physical conditioning, knowing my and others’ strengths and weaknesses, working as a team, doing your job well – all of it is manifest on the job,” he says.
Inspired by helping people realize their potential and achieve personal and professional growth, Piazza spent 32 years building his career as a human resources professional, most recently at Danaher Corporation, a Fortune 200 science and technology development organization. Having long been interested in teaching at the university level, Piazza joined the faculty at University of Richmond’s MBA program in 2011. His past experience valuing talent management as a catalyst for global enterprise success has enabled him to infuse his knowledge and expertise into his course on the subject.
“What interests me about talent management and organizational behavior is the practice of thinking like a general manager while executing the key elements of recruiting, retaining, developing, and rewarding outstanding people,” he says.
Piazza’s interest and experience with talent management and organization behavior suits him well at the University of Richmond. Still fairly new on campus, he is enjoying getting to know the faculty, administration, and students now surrounding him at the University. He finds the quality and challenging environment of the school the most exciting parts of being here. “The diversity of people and topics is every bit as compelling as I had hoped it would be,” he says.
Reflecting on his career in human resources, Piazza’s favorite episodes have involved identifying development needs in individuals, creating plans to address these needs, and directly impacting the individual’s success. He has had the ability to continue these experiences as a professor. Piazza has created a safe and confidential classroom environment where his students discuss workplace issues and learn from the feedback and lessons of their peers.
“I have core lessons to convey, but the fun comes from what students bring to the classroom,” says Piazza. Students are able to find solutions and guidance by sharing classroom knowledge and real-world insights with their peers and instructor.
Piazza’s experience with The Richmond MBA is similar to his outlook on his favorite NFL franchise. “The reason I am a New England Patriots fan is that their system works. They recruit great talent, they deploy their talent based on different situations they face, and they have performed exceedingly well over time. It has been gut-wrenching to watch them lose Super Bowls to a couple of spectacular plays, but I stay with them because of their high quality performance standards and consistency. I respect that in any organization.”
Thanks to Piazza’s guidance and preparation, his students are continuing their professional development through the lessons learned in his classroom.