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Above and Beyond the Classroom

When Paul Mulvey first set foot on North Carolina State University’s campus back in 1995, the Poole College of Management was only three years old. Mulvey was part of an accomplished group of professors hired to build out Poole’s course curriculum, carefully designed to impart the analytical skills and entrepreneurial mindset students need to launch or continue successful and meaningful careers.

Having guided almost every graduating class at Poole through the Human Resources Concentration, as well as the Jenkins MBA program established in 2002, Mulvey’s praise is grounded in decades of experience when he says his greatest reward is watching students succeed in whatever they attempt. “It’s incredible to see them achieve their goals and step into their places in the world,” he says.

Redefining Human Resources

Skilled at forging connections with students in and out of the classroom, Mulvey is one of Poole’s most esteemed professors, evidenced by awards such as NC State’s Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor award and his membership in the Academy of Outstanding Teachers. Yet for all these accomplishments, he’s a humble man who rarely talks about himself. Instead, he sees himself, his passionate and experienced HR colleagues and the HR Advisory Board (composed of HR leaders in North Carolina businesses) as enablers for current students and alumni. “Although many of our alumni are still comparatively young, they’re making a huge impact on the communities and businesses around them,” Mulvey notes.

The extended university network is something Mulvey cites as crucial to his research and curriculum development, which focuses primarily on human resource management and organizational behavior topics such as leadership, recruiting, goal setting, work teams and volunteerism. “Our alumni base is one of the strongest and most loyal in the country,” he affirms. “I remain connected to many of my previous students, and they’re always open to speaking with current students, providing career advice to younger professionals in the network or lending their expertise to my projects.”

Some of his more recent research examines how HR policies support or hinder the efforts of an organization’s employees. Context is key, Mulvey says, and if policies and procedures aren’t improving the functioning of an institution, then something needs to change.

Pursuing Lifelong Learning

Whether he’s interviewing prospective faculty or preparing students to lead their own teams in the future, Mulvey consistently finds the Jenkins MBA program to be a place where professors and students can grow alongside one another. “I always tell my students that the best learning happens outside of the classroom,” he says. “You can read a textbook and ace your exams, gleaning plenty of theoretical knowledge, but course consulting projects with organizations is where you gain invaluable hands-on experience and learn to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to these organizations and your career.”

Yet the learning that happens at Poole is not limited to those who are paying tuition. He consistently shares and gains knowledge from his faculty colleagues and the 14 senior executives that serve on the HR Advisory Board. Mulvey also says his favorite graduate courses to teach include strategic staffing and toxic leadership, because both are newer research topics for him, and he learns while teaching.

“A large part of shaping curriculum and pedagogy is learning from your current and former students in an applied setting,” Mulvey affirms.

This post was originally published in Jenkins MBA News.