Olga Bruyaka, B&E’s newest assistant professor of management
With the start of the fall semester in 2015 came the start of a new chapter for Dr. Olga Bruyaka, the College of Business and Economics’ newest assistant professor of management and perhaps the only professor and researcher in the college to have published research papers in three different languages.
Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, she came to the United States in 2008 to work at Virginia Tech prior to joining West Virginia University in July 2015.
Bruyaka received both a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in economics from Kiev National Taras Shevchenko University in Ukraine while working at Credit Lyonnais, a French bank, and at Carbon Consulting International Ukraine. After winning a French government study grant, Bruyaka went to France to get an additional master’s degree in strategic management, followed by a doctoral degree in management, both earned from EM Lyon Business School and Jean Moulin University (Lyon 3) in France.
Her experience teaching students at WVU so far has been quite different from her experience at Virginia Tech, she said, using the word “fun” once or twice in her explanation.
“My first semester went so well, teaching global business communication, and I was just so pleasantly surprised with the students – they’re curious, interested, provide such great interaction and conversation topics,” she said. “It is just so fun, having smaller classes than I did in Blacksburg. It gives me the opportunity to have more contact with students, the chance to get to know them better, and even have a bit of time in class to socialize, talking about culture.”
While her role at Virginia Tech offered her the chance to teach courses in strategy, her duties at WVU include teaching classes that include material about international culture – a theme she’s more than familiar with.
“Before, I would just teach strategy and didn’t feel that I could bring all this global experience with me to talk about with my students. Now, with the global business communications course I taught, we were able to talk about the countries in which I traveled, where I worked, and not only that, but the students from different countries shared stories as well,” Bruyaka said. “I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of the students in my courses have traveled quite a lot in their lifetimes so far. Whether it was on their own or through study abroad programs, and those who hadn’t were signing up to be members of the International Business Club when the president of the organization came and spoke to our class.”
Bruyaka spoke to the amount of diversity among students, faculty and staff that she has found in Morgantown, as well as the amount of Russian-speaking colleagues and pupils she has met at WVU, more specifically at B&E.
“It’s always refreshing to see students who are traveling, who are interested in doing so and who seem to be aware of what’s happening in the world beyond the textbook and the material. Through these classes, I am now being approached by students after class for advice, for recommendation letters and more. I love being that resource for them.”
Dr. Abhishek Srivastava, department chair of management, spoke to Bruyaka’s excellent abilities as a professor and researcher.
“She’s a wonderful colleague to have here at B&E,” Srivastava said. “Everyone in our department took a liking to both her research presentation and her cheerful demeanor. She has published in the top journals in our field, and has several innovative research projects in progress.”
Bruyaka’s research is focused on studying key sources of value creation in organizations including knowledge search (exploration and exploitation), inter-firm collaboration (alliance portfolio diversity), strategic complementarity in mergers and acquisitions, and internalization (ambidextrous internationalization trajectories). She studies implications of firms’ strategies for their innovation outcomes (academic publications, patents, new product introductions, etc.), economic performance (net income, return on assets, etc.) market value, as well as longevity (firms’ survival, shut-down, sell-off, etc.).
Bruyaka’s work has been published in highly-regarded academic journals, including Strategic Management Journal, Strategic Organization, Journal of Business Ethics, and Information Technology and Management Journal.
While pursuing her Ph.D. in France, she worked as a research and teaching assistant and taught courses in strategic management, technology and innovation management, and introduction to research. Something she has learned while teaching all over the world is that students vary on a wide scale, from country to country.
“In France, the students are very different in that they’re less afraid of being critical, and will often give professors a hard time in the classroom – they’ll challenge professors and won’t hold back in asking the ‘tough’ questions,” she said. “Here in the United States, though, it can sometimes be a battle to get a student to speak up in class, since there is less of a spirit of competition and perhaps not as much incentive for students to comfortably speak up in the classroom.”
What she loves most about teaching, no matter which country she’s in, is what she calls the “a-ha” moment.
“I’ll ask them questions in a way where I can see the gears moving in their heads – it gives me satisfaction during our interactions when I’ve managed to explain something in such a way that, without giving the answer right away, I’ve led them through to that lightbulb moment in their head,” Bruyaka said. “When students want to come talk to me about it after class, or how a certain lesson helped them nail a question in a job or internship interview, it gives me such joy to hear it.”
While Bruyaka had many other offers on the table when considering employment at WVU, she said her decision to join the faculty at B&E was highly influenced by the genuine interactions she had while on campus for her interview.
“My husband and I were completely drawn in by the sincerity of the people we met at WVU, especially within B&E, and the transparency throughout the whole process was refreshing. I came into work knowing the conditions, exactly what was expected of me, the requirements I would meet, and didn’t run into any fine print deals or unpleasant surprises,” she said. “In fact, any and all surprises have been very pleasant, and I don’t think that it’s just a honeymoon phase talking, either.”