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Richard Burgess is a first-year doctoral student at Kenan-Flagler Business School concentrating in organizational behavior. Richard is passionate about team building and leadership, and is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa (Go Steelers!).

Ricky Burgess

What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree?  

I decided to pursue a PhD in organizational behavior to fulfill a childhood dream. I had a deep interest in the social sciences, but as an adult, I switched my academic and professional focus to engineering. While working as an engineer and manager, I could see many of the social science questions I explored growing up manifested in the workplace. As an organizational behavior scholar, I can now leverage both this initial social science interest and my professional experiences to help improve the world of work.

What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?

Honestly, UNC was not initially high on my list of graduate programs until I met my potential advisors, Matthew Pearsall and Jessica Christian. Matt and Jess are two of the leading scholars in the field, and yet were so excited about my ideas and had a clear track record of supporting their students. What really sold me though is the department’s culture; every student and faculty member is deeply invested in each other’s success, and we are very intentional about celebrating each other.

If you had any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, what would it be?

Think carefully about what you are looking for out of an academic setting. Pursuing a PhD is a long, arduous, and highly idiosyncratic journey; you want to be in a place that supports you along the way.

What are your career aspirations after you’ve completed your studies?

My goal is to obtain a tenure-track faculty role at a research-focused institution. Academically, I am passionate about leadership, group dynamics, identity, and morality; I hope to make meaningful contributions to the field of organizational behavior as I study these subjects. I am also excited to help educate the business leaders of tomorrow.

How will your Carolina degree help you make a difference in the world?

Attending Carolina is already shaping up to be one of the most transformative decisions of my life. The opportunities, training, and support I am receiving as a student here are almost unparalleled and provide me with the space to deepen my understanding of how people interact.

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