July 29, 2020

Kochan Wins Mentoring Award from HR Division of the Academy of Management

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas A. Kochan

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas A. Kochan has won this year’s Thomas A. Mahoney Mentoring Award, given each year by the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management “to an individual who has distinguished himself/herself in the mentoring of PhD students.”

This is not the first time Kochan has been recognized for his mentoring skills. Kochan, who is the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management, a Professor of Work and Organization Studies, and a member of the faculty steering committee of the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan, has also been recognized through the MIT Office of Graduate Education’s “Committed to Caring” award for mentoring graduate students.

In his video remarks accepting the Thomas A. Mahoney Mentoring award, Kochan praised the influence of the late Thomas A. Mahoney on the field of human resources. Mahoney had been a mentor to one of Kochan’s own faculty mentors — so Kochan considers himself one of the “second-generation beneficiaries” of Mahoney’s mentoring skills. Kochan later worked with Mahoney on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal.

In his remarks, Kochan explained that he viewed mentoring talented graduate students “not only as the most important part of my job but also the most rewarding.” He stressed that mentoring PhD students is a team effort at the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER) PhD program.

Kochan also shared some lessons learned about mentoring graduate students. It’s important, he explained, to “engage your students as peers; of course, guide them as you set high standards, but also learn from their work and then build on it.  Where possible, build a team of students working together on problems bigger than they can tackle on their own and help them to each find a research niche that works for a good dissertation and that contributes to the larger project.”

 “Good PhD students are a source of innovation and keep our programs fresh and on the cutting edge,” Kochan added.

Kochan concluded his remarks by encouraging other scholars to serve as good mentors to graduate students. “Students can do relevant research with rigor,” he said. “In doing so, they will both reward you as their mentors with the satisfaction that I promise comes from watching their work change our field, perhaps not immediately, but as their careers progress and as the collective impact reaps the rewards consummate with the risks of taking on big and important issues.”

“These are the rewards of mentoring that I, and I’m sure many other HR colleagues, have been privileged to experience,” Kochan said. “You can do so as well, and our field — our world — will be better for you doing so.”

You can view Kochan’s acceptance speech here:


--Reported by Martha E. Mangelsdorf

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