The Bilbo Baggins of BYU Marriott

PROVO, Utah – Jan 15, 2020 – Much like Tolkien's famed hobbit Bilbo Baggins, James Oldroyd has certainly been there and back again. After graduating from BYU Marriott with his MBA in 2001, Oldroyd traveled the world, stopping to teach at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea and the Indian School of Business in India before returning to BYU Marriott as an associate professor of strategy in 2015.

Oldroyd was raised in Orem by parents who loved to travel, giving him the opportunity to explore the world from a young age. After earning his PhD in management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2007, he began applying for teaching positions at universities around the globe. On his way to an interview at a university in Singapore, he stopped at Sungkyunkwan University after a friend teaching there at the time encouraged him to come in for an interview.

“I didn’t have any ties to Korea, but I went in for an interview,” says Oldroyd. During the interview, he was invited to teach in the new international MBA program the Samsung Foundation was building after recently purchasing the university. Oldroyd jumped on the amazing opportunity, moving his wife and seven children to South Korea for the next five years.

“We might as well have been aliens,” he says, pointing out that the average Korean family has only one child. “With all seven of us walking around, we certainly stood out. But it was fun, and people were kind.”

After returning to the United States, Oldroyd taught international business at The Ohio State University but would also travel to teach two- to three-week classes at the Indian School of Business, which he continues to do today. “The Indian School of Business is an interesting place. When I go, I get to teach about eight hundred students who are incredibly smart, and they’re going to change India,” he says. Living in India, even for just a few weeks at a time, was an entirely new experience. “In every way, India is intense. The food, the flavors, the smells, the driving, but it’s a wonderful place,” he says.

When Oldroyd returned to BYU in 2015, he was eager to come back to Utah to ski, camp, and hike. However, what he didn’t expect was how much he would love working at BYU Marriott. “I love Utah and I love BYU. I’ve been happy here,” he says. “My colleagues are wonderful people, and the students are here for the right reasons. They want to learn, grow, and create. I love being around people who are young and want to make a change in the world.”

Oldroyd’s research focuses on knowledge and how to help share it most effectively as well as the benefits and disadvantages of principle-based learning and template-based learning. “If you had told me when I was a teenager I was going to write and collect data for a living, I would have laughed at you,” he says. “But I’ve grown to love the craft of researching, thinking of interesting questions, and figuring ways to get the necessary data to so we can analyze and answer those questions.”

After returning to Hobbiton—well, Provo—Oldroyd has two key pieces of advice to share from his global adventuring. “Pursuing money or grades is the wrong attitude,” he says. “The right attitude is to focus on creating value. If you can create value, then money, resources, grades, and all other good things flow afterwards.”

Professor James Oldroyd, his wife, and five of their children of varying ages, four girls and one young boy. They are wearing hats and riding mopeds in Thailand.
James Oldroyd, his wife and five of their children. (Photo courtesy of James Oldroyd)
James Oldroyd and his young daughter ride a zipline through a green and thick jungle.
James Oldroyd and his daughter ziplining through a jungle in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of James Oldroyd)

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Anne Wallace