Jury Gualandris has never been afraid of championing a new way of thinking. While attending school in Italy, he discovered he enjoyed learning people’s opinions, thinking critically about the different perspectives, and challenging others to consider an opposing view. It’s one of the reasons he became a researcher and a teacher – to challenge people to think beyond traditional approaches to business and consider how environmental, economic, and social factors fit into organizational decisions. Gualandris is now an associate professor of Operations Management and Sustainability at Ivey and director of both Ivey’s Centre for Building Sustainable Value and the Network for Business Sustainability.
“Learning through research and difficult case discussions makes us free of our biased assumptions and illuminates new possibilities,” says Gualandris. “I wanted to teach because I loved the idea of learning, continuously expanding my own and others’ knowledge.”
His ability to inspire students in the classroom earned Gualandris this year’s David G. Burgoyne Teaching Award for outstanding impact as an HBA instructor. The award winner was announced during the recent HBA graduation ceremony and, although he was in Italy at the time, Gualandris said he was proud to hear from other faculty members that the HBA graduates cheered upon learning he had won.
Innovating in the classroom
Although Gualandris has a track record of exemplary teaching, he said he has been striving for continuous improvement in the classroom since joining Ivey in 2017. Since he teaches two complex topics – Operations, and Sustainable Supply Chains – Gualandris said he is always considering new ways to frame them that will maximize the learning.
“I approach teaching from the perspective of students. When designing a course, writing a case, or preparing for a class, I always ask myself, if I had to learn about this subject again, what readings, exercises, and discussions could have helped me to acquire this knowledge more effectively?,” he said.
To ensure he is indeed reaching students, he invests significant time assessing ways to improve his delivery method. He videotapes his classes, asks other faculty members to sit in on classes and provide feedback, and reads students’ comments so he can reflect on ways to improve.
“Winning the award is an important validation of the investment I made over the years. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to boil down concepts and theories so they are more digestible and informative for my students,” he said. “One thing that is easy to forget as a professor is the complexity of what you are teaching. It took me years to get to my level of awareness and understanding and I have to consider that my students may be approaching these subjects for the first time.”
Nurturing critical inquiry
Gualandris said he encourages critical inquiry in the classroom and asks divergent questions to enable students to openly express their beliefs and perspectives. And when discussions become intense or bring forth ideas that are better tied into future class topics, he writes down key words or questions on a section of his whiteboard he calls “the parking lot” so they can be revisited at a later date.
“When topics or arguments come up that, if unpacked at that time, would make the conversation more convoluted, but are still very relevant, we go back to them later so we won’t lose that engagement,” he said. “I want to make sure I recognize my students’ thoughts and don’t discard or discount them.”
Building on Ivey’s legacy
Believing that research and teaching inform and build upon one another, Gualandris was drawn to Ivey for the chance to make an impact through research. While doing his PhD, he was impressed by the research Ivey professors Tima Bansal and Robert Klassen, MBA ’89, were doing in the field of sustainability and wanted to contribute to Ivey’s growing body of work in this area. Now as director of the Centre for Building Sustainable Value and its outreach arm, the Network for Business Sustainability, he is focusing on building Ivey’s legacy in this area.
The other draw was the opportunity to teach sustainability at a school that pioneered sustainability programming in Canada and was among the first worldwide to introduce core courses in business sustainability. Growing up in a working-class family in a small village in Italy, Gualandris said he always valued the principles of sustainability.
“I grew up with values that were very much about being frugal in our approach to life – consuming the right amount and not too much, and contributing what you can,” he said.
It’s a sentiment he hopes to instil in the next generation of business leaders through his teaching and research at Ivey.
"You can see from the faces of the students that moment that they’ve realized what they thought they knew about business isn’t the only way because we’ve proved other ways are possible,” he said.
When you plant that seed of curiosity, that’s one of the best moments you can experience because that will change the way a person thinks about business going forward.”
– Jury Gualandris