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Nicola Pless, New Director AIB

By Reto Steiner

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Nicola Pless as the new Director of the Department of International Business at the ZHAW School of Management and Law. She joins the Executive Committee effective 15 June 2020.

Nicola PlessNicola M. Pless is currently Professor of Management and holds the Chair of Positive Business at the University of South Australia. Through academic and consulting work, she has helped individuals and organizations to develop effective and responsible strategies for successfully navigating a VUCA world and unleashing their leadership potential for positive change in business and society. Her award-winning research has been published in leading academic journals and featured in international media such as Business Week and Forbes.

In 2013, Nicola Pless won the Aspen Faculty Pioneer Award for Teaching Innovation and Excellence and holds the 2011 Honorary Jef Van Gerwen Chair from the University of Antwerp for her work in the field of responsible leadership. She has served as Section Editor of International Management and a member of the editorial board for the influential Journal of Business Ethics.

Nicola Pless obtained her PhD in Management from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and an executive degree in clinical organizational psychology from INSEAD in France. Before joining UniSA, she served on the faculty of three leading business schools ranked among the top five in Europe by the Financial Times. Professor Pless was a tenured professor at ESADE Business School in Barcelona where she was a member of the Georgetown-ESADE Global Management Research Initiative. She has also held faculty positions at INSEAD and the University of St. Gallen. She has taught courses at BA, MSc, MBA, and PhD level and has been involved in executive programs, such as the Georgetown ESADE Global Executive MBA and the Stanford ESADE CSR programs. Her innovative “Business in Society” course was part of ESADE’s Master of International Management, which took first place worldwide for CSR and ethics in the Financial Times 2013 rankings.

Professor Pless’s work on responsible leadership lies at the interface of leadership and corporate responsibility and focuses on their application in business practice. Her academic publications include articles in peer-reviewed international journals (e.g., Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Business Ethics, Human Resource Management, Academy of Management Perspectives, Academy of Management Learning and Education) as well as books and book chapters published by Edward Elgar, Routledge, Sage, and Springer. Her current research focuses on leadership (multi-level and contextual research) and its development, responsible decision-making in multicultural and senior management teams, and micro-foundations of strategy — specifically the relationship between RL and social and economic value creation, and the roles of values, empathy, and mindfulness within this process. She is also a principal investigator in the international research group, “The Neuroscience of Leadership.” Her work often takes place in collaboration with business practice and is substantially informed by her senior executive experience.

Professor Pless has profound international management experience in the private and non-profit sectors, both as a board member and senior executive. For several years, she pursued an executive career in the U.S. and Switzerland, where she served in different international HR roles in financial services companies in Zurich, Basel, NYC, and for the World Bank Group in Washington, DC. As sector leader at Credit Suisse in Zurich, she was responsible for the development of the top 400 executives in that corporation. During the past 10+ years, she has also provided expert consulting and training services to organizations such as Deutsche Telekom, Dong Energy, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Swarovski, and Volkswagen.