Dr. Elina Ibrayeva, professor of practice in management at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business, brings a multi-faceted approach to her profession that drives her to be the best she can be. Her zest for teaching involves a disciplined classroom, integration of new technologies, working with local and international businesses and traveling abroad with students and colleagues to fully understand the nature of the global business economy.
“My teaching philosophy is best in content, best in technology and best in pedagogy,” said Ibrayeva, who originally came to Nebraska from Kazakhstan as a Fulbright Scholar. “Business is as competitive as sports and I base my classes on the same lean management principles I teach. A successful business manager combines a military discipline with a passion for their job, and that’s my expectation for students.”
Ibrayeva received her Ph.D. in business management from Nebraska after falling in love with Lincoln while on her Fulbright. After teaching 12 years at Southwest Minnesota State University, she returned to teach at Nebraska in 2012, specializing in organizational behavior and international management. In addition to teaching graduate students, she also teaches undergraduate classes with up to 380 students.
“I learned the way to survive and thrive is through the use of modern technologies. My first experience with teaching online was in 1999 so I’ve been doing it nearly 20 years. I still attend teaching conferences and webinars to uncover the latest uses of technology, and combine that with learning how the brain works, the role of motivation and how we pay attention,” she said.
In addition to typical online homework assignments, Ibrayeva currently uses Top Hat, a teaching platform which leverages student electronic devices to increase in-class engagement and get real-time feedback.
“In my graduate classes students are required to participate in group discussions so they learn from each other in a lateral learning style. The students often have specialized knowledge from already working in a particular area so they network and learn from each other,” she said.
Another layer to Ibrayeva’s classes involves participation from business leaders in the Lincoln community. Bob Wilke ’87, president of HobbyTown, regularly speaks to students in her classes. He also has experience taking classes from Ibrayeva while working toward his Nebraska MBA.
“I took two classes with Elina, and it was an easy decision to take the second course because my first experience exceeded expectations for learning, engagement and class format,” said Wilke. “The design of her classes fostered student-to-student learning and critical thinking where we were encouraged to network and exchange ideas. Her commitment to advancing student education is clearly evident in her actions.”
Ibrayeva also consults with both local businesses in Nebraska, as well as organizations from around the world. Last summer she conducted a cultural assessment review for ReSource Pro’s office in Huangdao, China.
“We conducted a workshop there which I now use in classes to show examples of cultural differences in how managers from different backgrounds respond in various situations. We’ve also been sponsored at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, to improve international education. All these international experiences, including traveling with students to Uganda and Panama in study abroad programs, help bolster my classrooms at the College of Business,” she said.
Ibrayeva prides herself on teaching over 4,000 students the past five years. She believes her all-encompassing approach to staying current with content, technology, business engagement and personal networking give her the best ability to offer meaningful learning experiences in both her large and small classes.
“Teaching requires so much these days so I have to do a little bit of everything. I studied mindfulness for 15 years so I know the only way to deal with stress is have a positive attitude for what you’re doing. I always wanted to teach and live in the United States, so I see all of this as living my American Dream,” said Ibrayeva.