Though Dr. Abhishek Srivastava is technically brand-new to the role of chair of the management department at the Colleg of Business and Economics, he got a taste for the position for six months last year.
“I’m very much enjoying my new role. The good thing is that I had the opportunity last year to preview what exactly the job entails, so when I took it I was in a better place to understand my responsibilities, the job functions and the leadership that the position entailed,” Srivastava said. “Because of my familiarity with the position, I was able to get things done on the first day of my new position.”
A native of India, Srivastava started at B&E in 2001 after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland from 1997 to 2001. He was awarded tenure in 2007, and took the department chair role in July 2015.
Right out of his Ph.D. studies, Srivastava had many options in front of him in terms of employment. But after a visit to Morgantown, West Virginia, coming to West Virginia University to start his academic career was the clear choice, he said.
“I looked at several options and interviewed at various places, but what stood out here the most to me were the people,” he said. “I could see the difference as soon as I stopped at a gas station. Back in the day we didn’t have GPS as we do now and, since the roads in Morgantown can sometimes be confusing, I asked for advice from the gas station cashiers. They were more than helpful, and friendlier than I had ever experienced than when I lived in the Washington, D.C., area.
“The feeling of community and friendly people continued as I went through my interview and visit at B&E, and it just felt like it was meant to be. I knew this was the right, safe place for my family and me to make a home.”
Srivastava has taught courses at each academic level (undergraduate, MBA and Ph.D.) and enjoys the autonomy that comes with working at B&E, he said.
“The freedom that we as professors have to teach courses of our interest, and the fact that we are given tons of opportunities to teach courses that we want to teach, and teach it the way we want it that is best for the students, is outstanding,” he said. “I am able to really spend time with students here, mentoring and advising them, and that is the most rewarding part in the sense that I know these students are valuing our interactions and making good choices in their careers based on of the professional advice we can give them.
“We have so many students here that are first-generation college students, looking for direction and advice related to their careers. And in just an hour or so, an interaction we have with them can make such a big positive impact on their lives, which is instant gratification for us, knowing how we can contribute.”
Though being department chair will reduce his research and teaching loads, Srivastava continues to work on his research on organizational behavior and knowledge-sharing in the workplace.
“Here at B&E, we are not only expected to work on our research, but we can pursue it in the way we would like; we aren’t subjected to close monitoring by anyone, and we can do it in our own way just as long as we produce results,” Srivastava said. “People around here are very happy with that, and it’s important to have happy employees. It contributes to the entire environment of the school.”
Srivastava and his wife have a daughter who currently attends Morgantown High School.
“We were very happy when we moved here 14 years ago, and I’ll never forget that on our first day in town, our 75-year-old neighbor came over and brought us a tray of freshly-baked cookies. Coming from D.C., where there were occasionally issues of crime in the metro area, we thought, ‘Where else could we receive this kind of welcome?’ In terms of family life and community, you can’t beat this place. It is as good as it gets.”
Srivastava’s future plans for the department include strengthening the undergraduate programs and areas of emphasis that he is in charge of overseeing.
“My focus and priority is the undergraduate programs; a lot can be done, and we have the largest major in the college,” he said. “We have an opportunity to make a big difference in terms of giving them the best guidance, resources, courses and mentoring that we can.
“With anything, you will always learn as you grow. There will always be new things, and I’m not saying that I learned everything I needed to know in those six months, but it was most definitely an advantage I had when stepping into this role.”