Hope College isn’t just a place; it’s a community. A regular feature within “Stories of Hope,” People of Hope explores what that means by highlighting some of the students, faculty and staff who help make the campus family what it is.
Associate Professor of Management
The first thing that Dr. Marcus Fila — one of the college’s management faculty, as well as the Director of the Leadership Minor — wants students to know about his chosen fields is that they are for everyone, and not only those interested in a career in business.
“It’s about managing people (starting with yourself!) and resources, which is hugely important because it’s ubiquitous,” Fila said. “Most people are going to manage somebody else and resources on some level, so it behooves students to have a good foundation on what that stewardship means.”
Fila, who is originally from England, initially worked in executive recruitment and other business development positions in both the U.K. and the U.S., dealing with senior leadership figures very early on in his career. After 10 years of this (which included earning his MBA in London), he felt a yearning to teach and mentor young people. “I really felt God’s call to transition to higher education,” he said. He went back to school, completing an MS in industrial/organizational psychology, and a Ph.D. in leadership and organizational analysis, and is now in his 11th year at Hope.
With respect to teaching, he is excited for this academic year. “I’m happy to be piloting a new course on organizational behavior, which is where my greatest passions lie.”
Fila’s primary area of research is the relationship between people and their work in the context of occupational healthy psychology, stress at work, and employee turnover. “As a headhunter, I was amazed at how powerfully excessive work stress through controllable, but unmanaged, circumstances at work could affect even the highest caliber of people. My greatest roadblock is people’s belief that there’s nothing we can do about it. Fifty years of research says otherwise. We don’t, for example, say the same thing about fear. We find out the root cause of fear, attribute it, and make adjustments to ourselves and the situation (where possible), and deal with it. We can absolutely do the same thing with work stress.”
“It’s about managing people (starting with yourself!) and resources, which is hugely important because it’s ubiquitous… Most people are going to manage somebody else and resources on some level, so it behooves students to have a good foundation on what that stewardship means.”
His view of management and leadership is one reason that he was drawn to Hope, which as a liberal arts college takes a holistic approach to education. Just as students majoring in other areas can benefit from management courses, students in economics and business — as is true for students college-wide — take courses throughout the curriculum.
“So if you’re in say, business or management, you’re also doing philosophy, sociology, psychology, political science, etc., and those things massively complement what you’re doing in your major area,” Fila said.
The result, he explained, is that the college’s graduates not only have depth in whatever their major field of study is, but a breadth of understanding that enables them to navigate change and complexity. Fila echoes Hope President Matt Scogin’s ethos that, “We’re not teaching people what to think. We’re teaching people how to think.”
Hope students, he noted, are up to the challenge, collegial and committed at the same time. “Hope students are quite team-oriented,” commented Fila. “They are generally well-tapped into who they want to be and where they want to go in life. I enjoy guiding them on career discernment, and other facets of personal and professional development.” Students appreciate Fila as well. In 2022, he received the college’s Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award, presented by the graduating class to the professor who they feel epitomizes the best qualities of the Hope College educator. He was also invited by the 2022 senior class to deliver the college’s Commencement Address.