Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Lisa O'Hara

The Management and Organization Department's distinguished and highlighted faculty members.

Five Questions with a Faculty Member...

Dr. Lisa O'Hara, Associate Clinical Professor


1. Tell us about the classes you teach. 
My course assignments include human capital subjects: Introduction to Human Resource Management, Performance Management, and Staffing and Recruiting.  I also teach Negotiation and Conflict Management and Organizational Behavior.  At the graduate level, I teach Managing and Leading People in Organizations for the Smeal OMBA program.  In each of these courses, we learn and synthesize new information then incorporate activities and cases to solve problems and build practitioner skills.  Most courses are hands-on and project-based.  I don’t have any one course that I like more than another; they are all my “favorite” courses because they are fun for me to teach.

2. What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? 
Watching students be successful in Smeal and in their careers after commencement.  One of absolute the best things is when I receive emails or LinkedIn messages from Management alumni and they tell me how they used the knowledge and skills that they learned in class, or when they update me on their careers.  For me, teaching has always had a relationship-building component; I enjoy working with students in the classroom, and then again as professional colleagues.

3. Considering the courses that you teach, how can students start putting what they are learning into practice? 
Students have shared with me some of the ways that they have used the skills they learn in classes.  From Performance Management, students have used performance metrics and appraisals to develop evaluations of executive board members in student organizations.  From Staffing and Recruiting, students have used their talent acquisition expertise to develop recruiting strategies that increase membership for student organizations, and to use selection techniques for establishing leadership roles within them.  Organizational Behavior teaches team-building and leadership strategies that can assist in developing high-performing teams.  What you learn in this course can also be used in teams where you work—such as an internship or an off-campus job, in other courses, or in student organizations.  The team contract has been frequently mentioned as a great tool for successful team projects in other Smeal classes.  In Negotiation and Conflict Management, students learn and practice principled negotiation, a skill you can use to resolve conflict between individuals, or to buy your first car.  As a Management major, you hone skills to recruit, select, develop, motivate, and lead people—and organizations are made of people.  You have many opportunities to put what you have learned into practice.

4. What advice do you have for students, as they begin a new semester at Penn State? 
First, if you are new to University Park, take an afternoon and learn your way around campus.  Walk the less-busy paths between buildings, find the shortcuts, and take in all of the sights.  There are interesting things to be discovered that you might have otherwise missed in the rush to get to classes.  Second, get involved in a Management or Smeal student organization, like the Professional Management Association or Human Capital Society.  It’s a great way to meet and connect with new people, network, and learn new things.  Third, make an appointment with the Business Career Center for a resume review, mock interview, and guidance on the career fairs.  Smeal will offer many opportunities for you to meet with recruiters for internships and careers—visiting the BCC will help prepare you to make the most of each of them.  Finally, find a time management app that works for you and commit to using it.  It will help you to stay organized with your courses and the extra-curricular activities you engage in, but even more important, effective planning will afford you the ability to stay present in each activity and to reduce your stress.

5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 
I enjoy hiking, with friends or with my fearless, four-legged companion.  I’m a collector of Victorian-era tea cups and Art Deco jewelry, so antique stores are a great way to spend a day.  When the weather is good, I put the top down on a little black car and drive through the mountains in Northcentral Pennsylvania.  I am looking forward to more travel as we get through the pandemic.  Apple Music is my latest obsession; so many possibilities for playlists with all that music at my fingertips.  And lastly, since 2012, I’ve been fortunate to have the best tailgate crew at Beaver Stadium and to enjoy a student section that literally rocks the house.   


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