Profile: Bob Piazza and his contributions to the Robins School

February 27, 2020
Since joining the business school as a lecturer in the MBA program in 2011, Bob Piazza has been a crucial part of the success in every part of the Robins School.

Since joining the business school as a lecturer in the MBA program in 2011, Bob Piazza has been a crucial part of the success in every part of the Robins School.

He taught his first course, Strategic Talent Management, with five students.

“Since then, I have learned from each student, from each project, and I can draw a lot of my background into those lessons,” Piazza said.

He spent 32 years as a human resources professional in the manufacturing sector. He had a number of plant assignments along the East Coast, and spent 20 of those years with Danaher Corporation, moving through the ranks to vice president of talent management for the global science and technology company, and vice president of human resources for a joint venture formed by Danaher and Cooper Industries. But through it all, he says the most important factor he wants his students to remember about business is that nothing happens without people.

“No matter what business you’re in, you’re in a people business,” Piazza said. “Given that, I think the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and influencing others are the three most essential skills one can have in a career.”

Through his nearly ten years in the Robins School, Piazza has been director of Executive Education, taught in The Richmond MBA and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, and served as adjunct faculty teaching undergraduates. He also served as an Executive in Residence, offering career guidance to students and young professionals, and he advises on Capstone Projects for the MBA program.

He is currently advising on his 13th Capstone Project combining one of his interests, cycling, and the Capital Trail.

“One of the Capstones I supervised was an economic impact study showing how the Capital Trail affected the communities through which it passes, including surveying bikers and retailers, to understand the benefit the trail has brought to the communities,” Piazza said.

He shared that through all of the Capstone Projects he has advised, he has continued to learn and grow.

“The Capstone is a substantial element of the MBA program, and adds great value to The Richmond MBA,” Piazza said. “It has been great working with students. It keeps me sharp because I have to get smart on what they’re doing to provide guidance. My interactions with faculty and regional business people keep me mentally engaged, and academically and professionally focused.”

Piazza is passionate about personal productivity. He encourages his students to stay focused, and find ways to compartmentalize professional and personal time. “Focus your time, attention, and energy on the tasks and objectives that yield the greatest alignment with what you value most.” Piazza said. “Manage and reprioritize all the time.”

He is grateful for his experiences working with students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and hopes to continue developing those relationships in the future.

“Some of the coolest experiences for me have been teaching something in class, and students comes back much later and tell you that it made an difference to them,” Piazza said. “When people remember and appreciate what you have to say, it’s rewarding.”