Jenna M. Evans
Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University
Focus on the present, do what feels right, and give 110% to every commitment.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
As an Assistant Professor, I conduct research and teach graduate students. I lead two programs of research on how we can stimulate healthcare organizations and professionals to (1) work together better and (2) improve their performance. My research is rooted in the fields of organizational behaviour, management, and psychology.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
After multiple failures, pivots, and life changes in early university (it took me 6 years to get a Bachelor’s Degree!), I stumbled across a course in organizational behaviour and fell in love. When I found out that I could study organizational behaviour in the context of healthcare, I knew I found my home. I chose to pursue a career as a researcher in this field, rather than a manager, thanks to my experiences as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. I found that I really enjoyed the challenge of identifying problems or gaps in knowledge and figuring out ways to address them.
I also always loved teaching. Every job I ever had, volunteer and paid, up until that first Research Assistant position, involved teaching youth. I enjoyed coming up with creative ways to bring knowledge to life and make it stick. A career as a professor allows me to combine my love of research and teaching.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
In high school I excelled in English courses and struggled in math and science courses. I continued to struggle in these subjects in early university. I could not have predicted ending up in a STEM-related field. I wish I knew that my ability to synthesize complex information and convey complex ideas would make me an ideal candidate for a career as a qualitative and mixed methods researcher in the behavioural and organizational sciences.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
I am a theory nerd. I love reading about theory, questioning it, testing it, and generating it. I love collecting data, especially when it involves talking directly with people to understand the world from their point of view. I also love experiencing aha moments when suddenly I start to see interesting patterns and themes emerge during the analysis and writing stages. Finally, there is no better feeling than seeing my research published and out in the world after years of work.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
By the time I was 20, life had thrown me enough curveballs that I realized there was little value in having a detailed five- or ten-year plan or a dream job title. Instead, I focused on the present, did what felt right, and gave 110% to every commitment I made. That approach kept me results-oriented and open to unexpected opportunities (like a career as a scientist/researcher!).
INSPO / FUN FACT
“Tinogona.” (It is achievable) – Dr. Tererai Trent