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Five minutes with Gina Vega

Gina Vega is Founder and President of Organizational Ergonomics

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?

Patrick Primeaux, SM, and Barry Armandi, PhD (both deceased far too young) were two people who, different as they were, taught the same message: Be generous to others and do the very best you can.  This may not sound like a particularly inspiring message, but they modelled this behaviour at all times, coupling it with a heavy dose of pragmatism that made conceivable for me many professional advances that I had not anticipated.

The Case Association logo

Pat gave me my first opportunity to present at an academic conference and, subsequently, we wrote and published together for many years. He taught me that, when you write with junior faculty, the senior person’s name goes last, not first. Barry taught me to write good cases and give opportunities to newcomers, rather than reserving them for your friends.  Because of Barry, I became president of The CASE Association, which resulted in the establishment of The CASE Journal (now in its twelfth year of publication), a different trajectory for my academic career and, ultimately, in what I do now.

Tell us about your company Organizational Ergonomics

I established Organizational Ergonomics as a component of my doctoral studies; it was meant to provide evidence that I understood and was comfortable with entrepreneurial ventures.  At the time, I designed Org Ergo as a general consulting firm for small businesses without the deep pockets to pay extensively for the consulting services they needed.Organization Ergonomics webpage

Of course, I learned that if one runs a firm that charges a very low rate, it can be hard to make a living! Over time, my husband and I morphed the firm into one that provides professional writing assistance for academics, technical writing services for corporate clients, and training in case writing for academic audiences. We have deliberately kept it small (if I were a marketer, I would call it a ‘bijou firm’). We are partnering now with a similarly-sized UK publisher to provide bespoke case journals for unique discipline-based associations.

Why do you believe the case method is so important in business education?

People learn best from experience, but since we cannot possibly gain sufficient first-hand experience to educate ourselves fully, cases can fill the gap by sharing the experiences of others and learning from them. Business education is about people – the way they behave, the way they design and implement policies, the way they correct their missteps, and the many ways it is possible to fail (and succeed, although we learn less from success than from failure).

Student at desk

Cases provide ample evidence of all of these and allow students to find a ‘better way’ to make business work, encouraging the creative application of established theories and techniques, as well as the possible development of new methods and approaches.

What advice would you give aspiring case writers?

Read a lot of cases and critique them.  How would you use them? What would you change? Which theoretical approaches would you use? What you are doing is writing your own teaching note for the cases, which is the first step in understanding how to construct a good case.

Volunteer to review cases for your favourite case journal or conference.  You will learn a great deal by evaluating the quality of other case writers’ work, and your advice will likely improve the quality of their cases as well as your own. Remember – the international case writing community depends on its members to participate in all its activities, from research through writing, teaching, reviewing, and publication. In the words of Uncle Sam, ‘We need YOU!’

If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?

I have been fortunate in my life to have worked extensively in other professions before I finally settled into the most satisfying work I have ever had.  I have been a translator, a placement counsellor, a marketing coordinator, a sales manager, cofounder and director of a university-based community services firm, the director of a mental health institute, and a professor. All of these professional lives have provided me with the background for my current life as an academic consultant and author, which is by far, the very best.

How do you relax?

I write. And write.  And write. When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. Also, I travel quite a bit and play video games.

John Stuart MillDo you have a favourite quote or guiding principle?

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.’ (Attributed to John Stuart Mill, pictured left, and Edmund Burke.)

Gina Vega
is Founder and President of Organizational Ergonomics, an academic consulting firm established in 1994. Until recently, she was also a Professor of Management at the Bertolon School of Business at Salem State University (MA).

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