Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Özge Pala

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

Five Questions with a Faculty Member...

Dr. Özge Pala, Assistant Teaching Professor, Management and Organization


1. Tell us about the classes you teach.
I teach MGMT 301 (Basic Management Concepts), MGMT 301H (Basic Management Concepts – Honors), BA 342 (Socially Responsible, Sustainable, and Ethical Business Practice), and MGMT 451 W (Business, Ethics, and Society) at the undergraduate level and MBADM 810 (Team Performance) in the Online MBA program. In all these courses, we focus on important leadership competencies, such as ethical decision-making, leading teams, communicating, and managing stress. In MGMT 301, with our first-year students, I discuss basic management concepts and how they can apply these concepts to be good managers and leaders in the future. In this course, students get a broad understanding of important management concepts and principles as they get ready to choose their major. In BA 342 and MGMT 451W, I work with our third- and fourth-year students and discuss principles of responsible leadership, that also form important pillars of our college: ethics; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and sustainability.


2. What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Interacting with my students. I missed this a lot during the last years as I was teaching remotely for almost 2.5 years because of the pandemic. Online interactions are not the same as those in person, especially at the undergraduate level. Being back in person in the fall, I realized once again how much I love being in the classroom. Each student has a unique perspective and something of interest they bring to the discussion. It is wonderful to be part of these discussions and help students work through their questions. I do not know whether our students are aware of this, but we learn from them, too. What I also enjoy is challenging my students to think beyond the obvious, see issues from different perspectives, and broaden their perspectives as they make decisions.


3. Considering the courses that you teach, how can students start putting what they are learning into practice?
In all my classes, I focus on skills that students can start implementing right away. For instance, in MGMT 301, we build a toolbox throughout the semester. At the end, in their toolbox, students have skills such as assessing culture fit, becoming a team player, planning, managing stress, and managing conflict. I encourage my students to apply these skills in their everyday lives whether it is in their student organizations or in their daily activities. For instance, learning to manage stress and anxiety has been a very important skill during the last years. I receive many e-mails from my students thanking me for the wellness activity assignment as it has helped them gain skills to navigate various daily challenges that cause stress and anxiety. As for being ethical, inclusive, and responsible, one does not have to be in the business world to apply these principles and skills.


4. What advice do you have for students, as we near the mid-point in the semester?
Be mindful about your health and wellbeing. Whether during the pandemic or other challenges we face, we all need to learn to take better care of ourselves and our loved ones. I know that in the coming weeks, stress and anxiety levels will increase but you can learn to use stress to your advantage. Penn State offers various resources I advise you to look into, e.g., Managing Stress Workbook, WellTrack Boost, various mindfulness resources (see the links below). On a broader level, I advise you to use every opportunity during college to practice the skills you learn, be attentive to the challenges the world is facing and think about what role you intend to play in coping with these challenges, and make great connections – friendships made in college are so precious.


5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with my family. During the holidays, we travel as we love exploring different parts of the world and learning about different cultures. For instance, we are looking forward to travelling to Costa Rica in the summer to meet with local cacao farmers and learn more about sustainable farming from their vantage point. I also enjoy reading fictional books, watching movies, and baking healthy deserts.

Links to Stress Management Resources:


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