Moving Forward in Faith
PROVO, Utah – Apr 03, 2019 – Through his educational and life experiences, Kurt Sandholtz, BYU Marriott assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources, has learned the importance of moving forward in faith with a decision without completely understanding what lies ahead.
After completing his master’s degree in organizational behavior in 1988 from BYU Marriott, Sandholtz originally planned to pursue a PhD and become a professor. However, Sandholtz instead decided to gain more work experience first and try his hand as a journalist for the National Business Employment Weekly, published by The Wall Street Journal.
As a journalist, Sandholtz edited and wrote articles about careers and job hunting, which helped shape his interest in understanding the process and outlook of different job occupations. For Sandholtz, staying open-minded and working in a new industry helped him realize his own talents and become better prepared to make choices concerning his future career goals. Sandholtz also gained hands-on experience as a consultant for companies such as Novations Group Inc., Zenger-Folkman, and the RBL Group.
“Doing something you haven’t done before can be energizing,” says Sandholtz. “You can start one path in life and feel like there is only one way to do things, but there are so many ways to learn and continually progress.”
With a mind-set to continually grow and try something new, Sandholtz continued to gain work experience and eventually felt inspired to pursue a PhD at Stanford University in September 2007—twenty years after completing his master’s degree. Instead of feeling intimidated or nervous about returning to continue his education, Sandhotlz considered the opportunity a blessing. “It is never too late to go back and learn,” says Sandholtz.
One concern Sandholtz did have was uprooting his family, who were comfortably attending school in Provo, to move to California. When his father was diagnosed with a brain tumor about six months after the move, Sandholtz then realized why he needed to make the transition and pursue his PhD at that time in his life. For Sandholtz, the move didn’t end up just being about attending school again but also about being closer to his father.
“My family and I were able to be with my father during the last eighteen months of his life,” says Sandholtz. “Life has taught me that things not understood in the moment have a purpose and often make sense only later in life.”
Sandholtz continues to believe that many things happen for a specific purpose. When a one-year visiting instructorship became available at BYU Marriott in 2004, he took advantage of the opportunity to see if being a professor was still the right fit for him. After completing his doctoral studies, Sandholtz returned to teach and research about professions and occupations and has now worked at BYU Marriott since 2013.
For his most recent research, Sandholtz is gathering data to analyze the emergence of a new profession called “people analytics,” or “human resource analytics.” He has enjoyed observing the patterns and trends that take place over time in hopes of determining the influence of data science on the HR profession. Sandholtz’s overall research focuses on understanding how occupations and professions evolve over time. He has had articles published in several journals, including Organization Science, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.
“You always have puzzles to solve or new understanding to gain, and that's what's fun about being a professor,” says Sandholtz. “The BYU Marriott School of Business is a remarkable place with wonderful, smart, supportive colleagues and amazing students.”
For individuals who are wary of what career path to pursue or what the future holds, Sandholtz recommends taking time to try new experiences and create meaningful connections along the way.
“Staying curious about the world and how things work is what keeps life interesting,” says Sandholtz.
“What you’re doing matters, but who you're doing it with matters just as much. Being surrounded by good people allows you to further grow and expand, to really refine yourself and understand what you are meant to do.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Brittany Salinas