This time, we present Jenő Mátyás Hartyándi, a third-year student at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Doctoral School of Business Administration. Mátyás aims to research, work on and teach management and organisational development at the same time.
According to the Ikigai model, inspired by the Japanese approach to life, the ideal work is in the intersection of four factors: be good at what you do, love what you do, the world needs what you do, and earn well. Mátyás found all four in university teaching and research, supplemented by organisational consulting. In addition to his doctoral studies, he also works as a consultant, trainer and lecturer, trying to combine business practice with the latest academic results and knowledge transfer. “I consider it credible if I can achieve a triangle: researching, working on and teaching my doctoral subject at the same time”.
With a lifetime career in development at a business university
Research is the primary focus in doctoral studies, which has attracted Mátyás for the last ten years of his career as a teacher. He worked in public education, adult education and as a mental health professional. In the meantime, he has written papers, and felt that without a PhD he had reached an imaginary glass ceiling: the lack of academic qualifications would not allow him to move forward.
A few years ago, he started looking around among Hungarian courses – his family and children tie him down here. “I liked the international direction Corvinus has taken in recent years”. The university’s extensive business connections were another factor in favour of Corvinus. “With a life career as a developer and a background in humanities, I had one big problem as a trainer: selling myself. Here I got the status to do so,” says Mátyás, explaining his decision.
Before the admission exam, he had no ties to the university. “I am not an alumni, yet the lecturers were very constructive towards me. I approached several supervisors and they were all very supportive,” he says about the early days. “It is very important to have a contact with the prospective supervisor before you apply, if possible”. He says the ideal situation is when there is already a research line at the university that the new PhD student can get involved in and work with more experienced colleagues for four to five years.
During the admission process, his considerable teaching experience was appreciated with the fact that he did not apply to learn to teach. “It was stressed that a PhD is not about becoming a teacher, it is about becoming a researcher”. The main goal of Mátyás’ doctoral school is to write prestigious international publications and the emphasis is on developing students’ research skills. “If someone doesn’t just want to put an extra three characters in front of their name, they really enjoying research. If you’ve already experienced the joy of doing this when writing a TDK thesis or doing a demonstrator assignment, you’ll have no problem with motivation,” says Mátyás.
Developing leaders with playful methods
Mátyás is a student at the Specialisation in Organisation and Management Theory at the doctoral school, where he is working on leadership development. “Many people think when they hear this that my subject is only about leaders. It is about them too, but leadership always involves the relationship between leader and follower or co-leader. So I’m not only interested in supporting the leader, but also in how a relationship, a group, an organisation works effectively”. Especially when there are turbulent and unpredictable changes, such as a pandemic or a war nearby, and leaders have to adapt to these circumstances. “My topic is training adaptive and resilient leaders, which couldn’t be more timely,” explains Mátyás.
The research focuses on ways to train leaders effectively. Mátyás is inspired by three directions: psychodrama, the world of serious games and simulations, and the Live Action Role-Playing methodology. These all develop the competences and self-awareness of leaders in a playful, dramatic manner. “When you can relax and take a playful approach to something, new capacities are released. In situations where you have always been stuck you are able to look at yourself from outside, to experiment with your behaviour. In this way you can better understand yurself and change certain ways of functioning”. In addition, imagination and empathy can help the leader to explore situations and conditions that they have not yet experienced. They can try out situations without the stakes being as high as in business.
These innovative methods have been present in coaching for decades, but Mátyás concerntrates on a specific aspect: role flexibility. “Every role is like a dress in our wardrobe. There are situations where you don’t have anything to wear because you don’t have your own experiences or they are blocked, so your role is not connected to them”. Interactive methods can help to develop the role set and “put new clothes in the leaders’ wardrobe”. For example, if you have to lead hard in a crisis situation, you can take on that role even if you have only tried it in a training session before, but you can also put it aside when more democratic decision-making is needed.
International teamwork and continuous redesign
As his PhD topic is closely linked to consultancy practice, Mátyás is also developing a specific methodology in his research. He has already presented it in Norway, Denmark and hopes to take it to France. He has received valuable feedback at all conferences. At one prestigious conference, for example, international experts asked questions about his PhD topic. He considers the feedback he received as one of the greatest successes of his studies so far. “I outlined my plans to a professor in 15 minutes. He blinked a few times and said it was very interesting, no one had ever done it before and he thought it was very relevant. I felt then that I had really found something relevant that could connect different fields”.
Although the doctorate has to be done alone, the research is an international team effort. “Right now I’m working on a project with a Dutch colleague,” says Mátyás, who puts a lot of energy into building international contacts. He also attends a lot of conferences, travelling to six places just this semester. These trips, which are supported by the doctoral school, the New National Excellence Programme (NNEP) grant and the Creative Research Ideas Grant, are the first stops on a long journey.
“A doctorate is a long-distance run. You don’t have to be able to sprint, you have to be able to achieve certain goals in four years. You have to build it up, like a mountaineering expedition”. You have to figure out when to go on to the peak, when to set up camp, what the important milestones are, while keeping the goal in mind. In a fast-changing world and in the maze of scientific publishing, you have to constantly re-design: “you know where you want to get to in broad terms, but the route is always changing”.
Written by: Tünde Taxner