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Insights at UBC Sauder

Meet UBC Sauder’s new faculty – Pat Reilly

Pat Reilly
Posted 2020-11-17
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At UBC Sauder, faculty members are more than just ‘professors.’ They conduct impactful research that is changing how society views the world while also inspiring students to pursue their academic passions and become the thoughtful, values-driven leaders the business world needs. This year, UBC Sauder welcomes seven new full-time lecturers, tenured and tenure-track faculty to the school. In the fifth of this series, we introduce you to Pat Reilly, Assistant Professor, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division, UBC Sauder School of Business.

What brought you to UBC Sauder?

My colleagues in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division. They are all amazing, top-flight researchers. When I had my job interview, I was amazed by their warmness and hospitality. I saw a group who were happy and fulfilled working together and at UBC Sauder. I knew it would be the ideal dynamic and community for me to develop as a scholar and teacher.

What are your areas of research and how did you get into this field?

My main areas of research are creativity and work and careers in creative industries. I mainly focus on the context of Hollywood film right now, though my PhD dissertation research was about stand-up comics in Los Angeles. More precisely, I am interested in a few things: I investigate the social and collaborative dynamics that are core to the creative process. I am also interested in how creatives develop their careers and try to impose something approximating order in their typically uncertain, insecure, and messy fields. In addition, I have studied community dynamics in art worlds and informal systems governing intellectual property rights—like idea theft. I have always been fascinated by how people, especially those who are excellent at a given craft and are dedicated enough to do it, make things that are novel or inspired and also the teamwork behind these achievements. I am also fascinated by "new worlds of work." So, entertainment is the ideal field to delve into both streams. It's also really fun subject matter. Movies, stand-up comedy, music—it's great.

What fuels your research – what prompted you to research this area?

I am a qualitative researcher, and my data mainly comes from interviewing or ethnographic fieldwork. I am fortunate, because I can see how the creative process or a stage in someone's career unfolds in real-time. So, I get to witness some of the steps in someone making or achieving something awesome. I also get to witness bad breaks or stumbles along the way and how people react to them. I get to hear talented folks talk about their process, experiences, and passions and ruminate on larger issues about their respective fields. This fuels my research, as I find it to be extremely fascinating to encounter people doing and talking about things that I did not comprehend before. I learn so much.

What inspires you to teach?

The potential to play a small part in enabling a student to realize their abilities or goals. When I was in university, I had a few professors that devoted the time and consideration to introduce me to new ideas and streams of thought. They were giving, patient, and had faith in me. I would have certainly not known that being a professor in a management program or academia in general was a possibility. If it wasn't for a couple specific professors, I probably would have dropped out of my undergraduate program and did who knows what. What they did means so much to me, and I want the chance to do something similar for someone else—even to a smaller degree. In addition, I learn a great deal from my students as they share their experiences and perspectives in their work and classroom discussions. I am grateful for what they teach me.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?

What struck me the most within my research is seeing the important role that friends have upon one's creativity. We tend to emphasize creativity as an individual enterprise or quality. For example, I studied stand-up comics, and it seems at first glance to be a highly individual pursuit. There is typically one person on the stage, talking into the microphone. However, in studying it and other creative fields, one's close friends who are also in the field are crucial in shaping ideas and developing one's expertise, because these relationships are so thick, based in trust, and involve intense familiarity. Working and creating among friends encourages one's commitment to a career or craft. This is especially vital at the beginning of one's career. As seasoned practitioners regularly don't have the bandwidth or desire to deal with rookies, friends that are fellow novices pool information, provide support, share resources, and serve as each other's first attentive audiences. It was really cool to discover how durable these early-stage friendships are; even stars continue to rely on these bonds to develop their projects or maintain confidence.

What do you believe is the future of your industry?

It is tough to say. For example, COVID-19 has disrupted many of the commonplace creative processes in entertainment. Live-action film and television production—like sets with full crews—was halted for months. Exhibition places—such as movie theaters and concert venues—closed, with many shuttering permanently. Even more fundamentally, it is generally infeasible for creators to be co-present with each other to practice, to hang out with each other, to keep tabs on each other, to riff, to gossip.  This social stuff is a vital ground where people generate and develop ideas. Creators are trying to adjust and adapt by using Zoom and other platforms or avenues. Some have been successful. But it is tough to know which changes will stick around once the pandemic subsides. Will television writers' rooms be teleconferenced with a bunch of geographically dispersed folks? What will the opportunity space look like? Will there be ample places for aspiring creatives to find day-jobs, like restaurants or retail establishments, to subsidize their career pursuits? Or will trust-funders have an even greater advantage? This stuff is happening alongside the emergence of new platforms, greater consolidation among media conglomerates, more global partnerships in production and distribution, and other big things. I mean, a U.S. District Court just invalidated the 1948 Paramount Consent Decrees that prevented Hollywood studios from owning theaters. Might Hollywood go back to the future and more resemble the Studio System of the 1940s? The future of the entertainment industry is unpredictable, which I guess makes it a really engrossing field to study.

What are you most looking forward to in Vancouver?

I am excited to explore Vancouver with my wife and son, to ride my bike around, and to make new friends. I also look forward to checking out the record stores in the city and getting a chance to go fishing. I cannot wait to take my son to romp around in Stanley Park. And, after living in Southern California for the past ten years, rainy weather. I certainly found the right place for that. After this past summer in Southern California, I am shocked that I didn't wilt.