"We Are GSM" - Meet Professor Gina Dokko

Professor Gina Dokko’s primary research focus on the consequences of job mobility and careers. She studies how portable experience is, and how peoples’ job mobility and career histories enable and constrain learning, innovation, performance and social capital for both themselves and their employers. Before earning her Ph.D. from the Wharton School, Dokko worked in strategy and marketing at American Express and 3M. Originally from the East Coast, she's now an avid hiker and enjoys all that Northern California has to offer.

Researching Career Choices

One of my friends has made this joke that all research is "ME-search" and in a way that's kind of true that this is a subject that's constantly interesting to me because it has so much to do with what I personally experience. I study job mobility and people's careers and I think, in particular, about the consequences of people's careers when people make career choices.

  • What does that mean for them further on in their careers?
  • What does that mean for the companies that they're joining, or in some cases, leaving?

Understanding the Advantages of Boomerang Workers

I think that business school students are inherently interested in their careers. One of the things that I'm working on right now is a study on what they call “boomerang workers.”

Firms are increasingly interested in boomerang workers. They're thinking about hiring back these people that used to be on staff for them, thinking that these are people who can really hit the ground running. So, one of the mechanisms that we unearthed in this research is a helping-behavior mechanism where boomerangs who come back are more helpful to their co-workers than other new hires are.

Reciprocity is one of the basic building blocks of human behavior that, of course, just raises more interesting questions that we will be unpacking in future research.

Reputation Exceeds Expectations

When I joined the GSM, I joined because my colleagues here are fantastic. The research reputation of this school just really goes way beyond the size of the school. Right now, I teach the required strategy course in the Online MBA program, and I also teach a course in the MSBA program called Implementing Analytics in Organizations. The students are coming in with technical backgrounds, primarily very strong, and quantitative skills, and they're looking to be data scientists, but this is their course to make them think a little bit more about the organizations they're going to be doing their work in.

I've been really happy teaching in the Online MBA program. I think we really did it right. I was given the time and the space to really think about the design of the course and how an online environment is really different from a face-to-face environment and that program has been really rewarding to teach in because my students—they are terrific!

If I'm giving advice to prospective MBA students now—think about how you can get the most you can get out of a program. The other thing is strike for balance. You're not just there to make connections and to think about your career, you're also there to learn some really concrete skills.

East Coaster Learns to Love Hiking

Probably my biggest activity out here—my personal history is Couch Potato—but when I got here, what I realized is that I really like hiking. The opportunities to get out into nature, and to walk around to go places where you can't really get to by car. The opportunities are amazing, the weather is fantastic, and my friends on the East Coast, which is where I'm from, still find it funny.

We Are GSM.