Staff Profile: Rick Ladyshewsky

How long have you worked at Curtin?
24 years (started in School of Physical Therapy (1994 – 1999), then Curtin Graduate School of Business (1999 – 2017) and now School of Management (2018 — )

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?
Prior to Curtin University I was the Academic Coordinator of Fieldwork Education and Senior Tutor at the University of Toronto, School of Physical Therapy.

What do you like best about your role?
I love teaching online and working with the technology. I enjoy blending technology with pedagogy and seeing the outcomes on student learning. I particularly like seeing students engaged in a virtual space and feeling connected to the class. When they tell me they got so much out of the unit that they can use as managers it is very rewarding, particularly since you only interact with them online.

The research I am engaged with in support of my 6 PhD students is also very engaging – emotional intelligence development in therapy students, empathy versus psychopathy in psychology and business students, tacit knowledge exchange in work integrated learning environments, organizational change and staff capabilities, cross cultural management and leadership wisdom.

Why did you choose your current career path?
I think my job chose me! After finishing my Master Degree in Health Science (Health Administration) I had an existential crisis about what I should do after being a clinician. I quit a job coordinating a computer health record installation then had a bad bicycle accident and broke my arm severely. While sitting at home in a cast I heard about a position that came up at the University of Toronto to manage the physical therapy fieldwork program which I heard about from a fellow student. I got the job. It was a great blend of my health care background and my health management degree. I had the most amazing boss ever and with her motivation I realised I loved being in the academic environment, teaching, organising and running things. The work led me down the path of teaching and learning and in particular peer coaching within the work integrated learning environment. There was no stopping me and I have spent most of my career in that field.

When I joined the business school I was asked to project lead movement towards a flexible learning strategy and more online education. Again I had a great supportive boss, a super team, and loved the work with technology. I found myself very engaged with this revolution in learning and now find myself working virtually because of this technology.

First job?
My first job was a health care assistant in a nursing home. I took care of elderly clients with severe Alzheimers and Dementia clients and was responsible for their complete daily care (bathing, feeding, toileting, ambulation and sadly sometimes having to take them to the morgue). I did it for six years while I put myself through University and loved every minute of it. Working with the aged is wonderful.

Worst job?
I worked as a short order cook in a fast food restaurant making roast beef sandwiches and hamburgers. I lasted 3 weeks and was let go after I put my hand through the meat slicer.

What project are you currently working on and what does it involve?
My current project is to take much of my knowledge on peer coaching and work integrated learning and put it into a guide for supervisors in the work context before I retire at the end of 2020. There is a big demand for this type of resource as the workshops I run for preceptors at Curtin via WEBEX are always oversubscribed with waiting lists. To gain more information I am working with Brooke Sanderson to tap in to the tacit knowledge of experienced supervisors who work with multiple learners in work integrated learning contexts. We want to capture their strategies for managing these types of work place learning placements. We will be interviewing these supervisors in Canada and Australia and hope to integrate these findings in to some publications, conference presentations and supervisor resources.

Your favourite place in the world and why?
I have been to 72 countries so this is a tough question! I would probably have to say the Southern Coast of Turkey. Fantastic beaches, ancient ruins under clear water you can snorkel through with fantastic Turkish food as your treat after a day of swimming. However, I also like disappearing into the dense forests and mountains of British Columbia – away from email and cell phone coverage. This quiet isolation is very liberating!!!

Your favourite cuisine and why?
It’s a tie between Indian and Thai food. I love how the flavours of sweet, spice and sour all interact together on your palate!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The best career advice I got was when I was just starting at Curtin I went to an early academic career seminar. The best advice I got from a senior academic was, “Do what you need to do in order to stay out of trouble and then just focus on your own work”. It helped me to prioritise what I needed to do to be an excellent teacher and researcher. There are so many distractions at the University given its size and scope. You have to learn to focus and how to say “that is very interesting but I am fully committed so I can’t get involved”.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know…
I grew up with deaf parents and was raised speaking sign language in the home. That’s why I talk so much cause no one ever listened to me at home! I also ran a marathon once just under 3 hours.