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Satoris Howes prepares future work leaders for better workplaces

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Professor of Management Satoris “Tori” Howes is passionate about creating a world of work where people can thrive and gain fulfillment.

November 30, 2022

The average person spends one-third of their waking hours at work.

If we can make the time there better, shouldn’t we?

Professor of Management Satoris “Tori” Howes is passionate about creating a world of work where people can thrive and gain fulfillment.

“My research contributes to promoting economic growth and social progress, and improving human wellness and health,” Howes said.

Howes’ research, in part, earned her a Toomey Faculty Fellowship in the College of Business, which supports faculty who have demonstrated excellence in research and teaching.

She hopes her research can be applied to create healthier workplaces elsewhere.

“There are a lot of things about our jobs that can lead to health problems,” Howes said. “The more we know about problematic areas, the more we can change them.”

Howes has spent her career working on projects involving people in helping professions, including the military, police, nurses and most recently wildland firefighters navigating COVID-19 during intense fire seasons.

Her work with firefighters began when a U.S. Forest Service administrator contacted her about a piece she published on narcissism.

“They read my article and wondered, ‘If people are narcissistic, can an organization that is comprised of narcissists also be considered narcissistic,’” Howes said. “They were in the process of tackling a huge challenge within the Forest Service – fighting fires while staying safe during a global pandemic.  I was brought in to serve on a sensemaking team to identify how to assist leaders through an unprecedented time.”

Working with government agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, she and a team of fellow researchers conducted nearly 200 focus groups. The team published their findings, documenting organizational complexities and sharing insights of how firefighters navigate changing terrain to stay a step ahead during the pandemic.

Howes teaches courses on organizational behavior, human resource management and strategic management to future workforce leaders.

In the classroom, she strives to emulate faculty who were most impactful to her.

“I was a first-generation college student, and I remember how intimidating it was to be around my professors,” she said.

Howes turns “fuzzy faces” – the silent blank stares students give her when she asks if anyone has questions – into “eureka moments” when heads nod in recognition.

She has a knack for knowing when to explain something differently or provide another example and when to say when.

“Early on, I had to fit everything into my lectures. I didn’t want to leave anything out. I’ve since learned that putting it all in is a disservice, and there’s no way students can retain it all,” she said. “By cutting back, I am teaching more.”

Howes describes the Toomey Faculty Fellowship as instrumental.

“I can focus on being an impactful educator, making a tangible difference with my research, serving our community and profession and contributing toward Oregon State’s mission,” Howes said.

To learn more about the Toomey Faculty Fellowship and other ways to support faculty by visiting the OSU Foundation.

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