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Hooria Jazaieri is shifting the paradigm of Silicon Valley culture—one student at a time

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An assistant professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of BusinessHooria Jazaieri teaches business students, many working in big tech, how to be better leaders in her two courses: Social Psychology of Leadership and Management of Organizations.

“Contrary to what is often pushed in the Silicon Valley narrative of move fast and break things, I would recommend actually taking a step back,” she said.

She believes that instead of moving fast, business leaders should be “taking it slow and really getting a lay of the land so you can get a sense of who are the people in the organization, talk to people, ask questions, what’s the climate here, what has worked well, and what hasn’t worked well.”

That Hooria is people-focused is no surprise. She’s a licensed psychotherapist in private practice who received her master’s degree in counseling psychology at Santa Clara in 2010 before earning a Ph.D. in social psychology at UC Berkeley in 2018.

“Psychology intersects with business in every aspect from leadership, product design, marketing, management, negotiations, you name it. It’s pretty exciting that we get to apply psychological concepts to nearly all aspects of business”.

Negotiation, in particular, has been a key interest, one Hooria pursued as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Kellogg’s postdoctoral program is of the most preeminent fellowships in the field of management. Scholars work with top faculty in the field to generate cutting-edge research with implications for both scholars and practitioners. Breaking down barriers between people who see themselves as being on different sides is often contingent on compassion, a topic she knows a lot about.

Hooria is also a Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) instructor, a certification she earned at the Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). From Haas MBAs to Silicon Valley leaders, Hooria’s course on Compassionate Leadership is quite relevant to doing business in the 21st century.

“Compassion is something that can unite us as people in that oftentimes we think about “us” versus “them” and it creates a division,” Hooria said. “At the end of the day, compassion unites us in that we are all humans who wish to be happy and free from suffering. On that basis alone, we have a lot in common, rather than a lot we can’t agree upon.”

Compassion is one of the “discrete emotions,” including joy, gratitude and hope as, that she examines in her research at Santa Clara University, which also focuses on reputation.

“I study the process of how people gain, lose, and recover their reputations and how reputational information is stored and communicated in networks,” she said. “Through a variety of settings ranging from baseball fields, sorority houses, wineries, and Japan, my work examines the content, structure, and dynamics of individual reputation.”

Currently, she has projects underway looking at how different forms of criticism influence reputation, and the role of gender on reputation in negotiation contexts.

Finding solutions to big-picture social issues, such as gender inequities, hunger, and sustainability should be a central mission of business, she says. She argues that although companies have tried, they haven’t always been able to marry the missions of doing well and doing good.

“Despite the many efforts of companies to address social responsibility in the last decade… Many organizations lack the awareness, mindset, frameworks, and knowledge to efficiently and effectively make progress in providing solutions to systemic challenges, while also ensuring business performance,” she wrote with her co-authors in “Transforming Business Education through Social Innovation: from Exalting Heroes to Engaging our Humanity,” published in the Humanistic Management Journal in 2019.

Creating the leaders who will engage humanity is exactly the aim of her work as a management professor and change agent in her Leavey classrooms, which sit at the center of Silicon Valley. “I’m an SCU grad so I’ve always aspired to teach at Santa Clara. It’s such a special place and as someone who studies compassion and obviously the Three C’s of competence, conscience, and compassion here at Santa Clara aren’t just something we say on the website but really something that I think is a core to our culture here at SCU.”

“I think, really just seeing the humanity in every person is important now more than ever, regardless of political affiliations, regardless of race, regardless of which team you root for,” she said. “We are all human beings and that is what unites us.”

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