2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Ellen Ensher, Loyola Marymount University

Ellen Ensher
Loyola Marymount University

“Ellen has taught at LMU for 25 years and is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on mentoring. She is a highly rated speaker and has made an enormous impact both inside and outside the classroom. Students love her courses and have maintained close relationships with her throughout their careers. She is a breast cancer survivor and advocate for women in the workplace.” – Loyola Marymount University

Ellen Ensher is Professor of Management at Loyola Marymount University. She has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching including LMU Professor of the Year.

She is the co-author of Power Mentoring: How Mentors and Protégés Get the Most out of Their Relationships. She has published over 50 articles and book chapters on mentoring including those in the Journal of Vocational Development and HBR.org.

She has served as a Fulbright Specialist in Finland and frequently teaches executive and undergraduate students abroad. Ellen is a LinkedIn Learning author of four courses on topics related to mentoring and management and is frequently cited in leading media publications including Fast Company, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal. Recently, Ellen shared her expertise worldwide as part of the U.S. Embassy’s invited expert speaker program for audiences in Morocco and Greece.


At current institution since what year? 1997


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Organizational Psychology, May 1997. Center of Organizational Behavior and Sciences, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.
  • Master of Public Administration, May 1990. Emphases: International Training and Development, Human Resource Management, School of Public Administration, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Psychology, May 1987. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA.

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Managing Yourself; Local-Global Capstone; Learning and Development; Managing People and Organizations


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I experienced the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. I was working in human resources for a hospital near the flashpoint. I knew I wanted to do more, learn more, and be a part of the solution to help diverse people move ahead in their careers.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My area of expertise is mentoring. My most significant discoveries are: 1) Having a network of diverse mentors is the key to success (I wrote a book, Power Mentoring, with Susan Murphy in 2005 on this topic and subsequent research has supported and refined this finding.) 2) Online mentoring can be just as effective as in-person mentoring, 3) Mentoring is a tool to help people identify their callings and develop not only professionally, but also personally. I am currently working on research related to mentoring in a virtual environment, including the metaverse. I am also working on several streams of research related to entrepreneurs and their development.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be…A digital nomad! And a food and travel writer!

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I am real. I not only bring my authentic self to teaching but the best version of myself. I was a corporate trainer before I was a professor and I learned that my purpose in the classroom is: 1) keep students awake! 2) teach them something they care about, 3) and draw out their thoughts and experiences. Also, if they are not awake, I cannot teach them anything – therefore I use stretching, humor, breathing exercises, stories or just anything new to keep students engaged and present with me.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilarating!

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: It will be the best job you can have. You are never done… with your day, your work, your to-do list or your opportunities to contribute.

Professor I most admire and why: Dr. Charlie Vance (former LMU Professor of Management) – my mentor and friend who helped me find my way in college and whether he is yodeling in class or leading a department meeting he is full of fun and unflappable. I am also a big fan of Amy Cuddy as she does groundbreaking work and shares her quirky personal side on Instagram reminding me to have a full life.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I enjoy the hope they give me for the future. I enjoy their hope, energy, and humor. These post-pandemic business students already know that life can change on a dime and I think this experience has made them braver. They have a “hell yes” mentality.

What is most challenging? Post-pandemic blahs for my students. It is challenging getting students to socialize and help them manage their anxiety.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Energized.

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Asleep. Negative.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Tough on deadlines, lots of work, but basically fair.


What are your hobbies? Traveling. I have been to 71 countries! Which goes nicely with my hobbies of swimming, reading, and socializing.

How will you spend your summer? Teaching abroad, writing, and taking a breath. Camino de Santiago hike is on my list!

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Favorite book(s): A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle; Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, and He, She, and It by Marge Piercy.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? The Bachelor because it was a great way to bond with my son and discuss how to treat women. Any comedy with Amy Schumer because her humor goes well with popcorn and wine and I need to laugh regularly.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Alanis Morissette – Alanis says it all perfectly and my favorite lyric is “you live, you learn.” Also, I am big fan of India Arie and my favorite lyric of hers is “this too shall pass.” This reminds me that sadness, difficulty AND joy are all transitory.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…Parking! Travel funding and opportunities for every student; Virtual Reality goggles for every student and guest speaker so they could experience the world even if they cannot leave home.

Companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…Creating cultures where people can thrive, personally and professionally. Don’t just build a mentoring program – create a mentoring culture where people feel like they have time and energy to mentor.

I’m grateful for… My health. I am an 8-year breast cancer survivor so I am grateful every day. Also, I am pretty sure I have the best colleagues because (believe it or not) we have no drama in the Department of Management at LMU.


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