2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Kelly Schwind Wilson, Purdue School of Management

Kelly Schwind Wilson
Purdue School of Management

“Kelly is a wonderful teacher for undergraduate programs. She has been recognized as a distinguished undergraduate instructor at Krannert School many times. She is also an outstanding scholar in OBHR research.” – Lin Nan, Senior Associate Dean, Department Head in Management, Purdue University

Kelly Schwind Wilson, 42, is Associate Professor of Management at Purdue School of Management.

Her research examines the implications of conflict and congruence between individuals’ and couples’ work and nonwork domains. She also studies leader and follower relationships, resources, behaviors and effectiveness.

Her research has been published in various leading journals including the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology. Among other awards, Kelly was the recipient of the 2011 John and Mary Willis Young Faculty Scholar Award, a 2017-2018 Krannert Faculty Fellow Scholar Award as well as a 2020-2025 University Faculty Scholar Award for her research at Purdue.

She won the 2018 Impact Award for her service activities in addition to numerous teaching awards, both at the undergraduate and master’s levels.


At current institution since what year? 2009
Education: BA in Psychology and Communication Studies from the University of Michigan (2002) & PhD in Business Administration from Michigan State University (2009)
List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Leadership and Organizational Change elective


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I knew I wanted to be a professor when I took my first Organizational Psychology course at the University of Michigan taught by Professor Fiona Lee. I was fascinated by what I was learning and became curious about what my college professors spent their time doing outside of the classroom, which led me to research. I probably would have become a psychology professor if I hadn’t worked for a couple years after college and met a PhD student in Organizational Behavior who persuaded me to consider applying to management programs!

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am fascinated by work and nonwork interpersonal relationships, especially those between two individuals, and how dyadic relational elements and qualities influence and are influenced by employees’ different roles and resources. I have two main research streams that incorporate the study of work and personal relationships, including the work-nonwork interface and leadership. Even though I’m probably most well-known at Purdue for my expertise in leadership (since I also teach this topic), I’m probably better known outside of Purdue for my research on an employee’s work-family or work-nonwork experiences.

My most interesting and significant discovery would likely include my findings concerning the “bright side” of stressful experiences that occur when an employee shares the experience with their partner. For instance, in 2018 my coauthors and I found a “misery loves company” effect—when both partners simultaneously experience similarities in family-work conflict, the employee reports higher balance satisfaction and job satisfaction, and their partner reports higher relationship satisfaction. In a more recent study, we find that when couples agree on the employee’s burnout, the employee experiences lower conflict and distress, and higher recovery. In this work, we demonstrate that the harmful effects of burnout are largely minimized if an employee’s partner accurately recognizes their depersonalization (a specific dimension of burnout).

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… This is a tough one for me because I honestly feel like I found my ideal career, but I’d probably be an HR professional.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Interpersonally, I believe I come across as friendly and approachable. In terms of my actual approach to teaching, I attempt to make my courses as practically and personally relevant for students as possible. For example, I provide opportunities for my students to learn about their own personal leadership strengths by compiling and distributing individual feedback reports based on a skills assessment each student completes online. We then use these feedback reports for in-class exercises in their teams. I also incorporate news articles and cases, and regularly ask students for their own examples in order to continuously offer opportunities for students to apply the material we are learning to real workplace situations and experiences. My courses are very interactive and consistently offer students the ability to collaborate with their peers and teammates.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Young (for an instructor – I was 25!)

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That your teaching will matter more than you’ve been told if you are a tenure track or research-oriented faculty member. I had no idea that I would be observed teaching by multiple senior faculty every time I went through a contract review or promotion. While I have always taken my teaching seriously, these opportunities to receive feedback from my senior colleagues have provided me with insights and approaches that have proven enlightening and valuable.

Professor I most admire and why: Theresa Glomb from the University of Minnesota has served as a role model for me since I was a graduate student. I saw her speak a couple of times while I was a student and remember how confident, poised and friendly she always was, not to mention extremely successful and well-respected by many. When I became a junior faculty member, I still remember the thoughtful advice she shared with a small group of us at a workshop regarding how to juggle family and life while working toward tenure. She has overcome multiple challenges with grace and strength and continues to do important and interesting work that impacts multiple research fields as well as practice. Theresa is one of my favorite people to connect with at conferences and serves as a role model for many women in our field. I’m honored to now call Theresa a dear friend.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Learning from them. I love hearing about their experiences and stories (from internships, jobs, etc.) and how they apply to the concepts and material we are covering.

What is most challenging? Keeping students engaged. With everyone’s phones and laptops so readily available these days, students’ attention wanders a lot more throughout each class session.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious (and prepared)

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Aloof

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… strict but fair. My school has a curve that faculty are supposed to follow for all our courses and as a result, I feel that I’m a bit more tough than I’d naturally be. That said, I give my students multiple opportunities to work on their final group project and get feedback from me on different sections before it is due at the end of the semester.


What are your hobbies? Hiking and spending time outside, Peloton fitness classes (e.g., strength, cardio), traveling, Broadway musicals, watching my kids’ activities (e.g., cross country meets, dance)

How will you spend your summer? In terms of work, I will spend most of my time reading and writing. On the personal side, we go to Michigan every summer at least once. My husband and I are both from there and most of our family is still there. My family has a cottage on a small lake where our kids love to stay. We usually spend a day up at the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan as well, and are talking about extending that trip over a long weekend this year. We are also planning to take my in-laws on a cruise to celebrate their recent retirements.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Providenciales in Turks & Caicos, Greece, Michigan and Arizona

Favorite book(s): Because I read so much for my research and teaching roles, I prefer fun or stimulating fiction when it comes to books. For example, Harry Potter – I loved finally finishing this series with my oldest daughter a few years ago, The Hunger Games, Rebecca, and more recently, Where the Crawdads Sing and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My husband and I enjoy Bachelor in Paradise and Love is Blind. It’s an amusing escape during the week after a busy day of meetings or teaching. I’m always curious about people’s motivations to be on these types of shows and to find out whether things actually work out successfully (or which relationships and what exactly goes terribly wrong in the end).

My other current favorites are Severance on Apple TV and Dead to Me on Netflix. I love series where I can’t turn off the TV. I’m the one who always wants to start just the beginning of the next episode so I don’t have to wait until the next night to find out what happens. Not to mention, Severance aligns with my work-nonwork research and interests, but takes the idea of separating one’s work and nonwork roles and activities to the extreme. I yelled at the TV during the final episode of Season 1!

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Most new pop and hip-hop music, especially Ed Sheeran and Lizzo songs, anything that is upbeat and puts me in a good mood. I also like a bunch of indie rock bands (e.g., The Killers, Haim) – my husband has always been much more into music than me and he listens to this type of music in our house constantly…and then it eventually rubs off on me.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… senior women faculty and mentoring programs for all junior faculty and students. When I first started my PhD program, it wasn’t as easy as it is now to find women role models who had made it through tenure and promotion to full professor at the best research schools. We can also do more when it comes to mentoring junior faculty and all of our student groups, to help ensure growth and success throughout their careers.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… understanding and supporting their employees as whole persons, with passions inside as well as outside of work, and then figuring out the best ways to capitalize on these passions. I also believe there is more organizations can do to encourage employees’ well-being and recovery. During the pandemic, some bosses and organizations got used to their employees always being available to work. It would be inspiring to see more leaders model taking time off and prioritizing their mental and physical health, which holds implications for their workplaces and employees as well.

I’m grateful for… my husband. He has always supported me and my career and is the reason we were able to have three children while I was an assistant professor and still make it through tenure and beyond. I’m grateful for the life and community we have built here at Purdue and in West Lafayette, as well as the proximity to our extended family and friends back in Michigan.


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