The compassion dividend

May 3, 2019


By Aggrey Sam

As much as Oscar Holmes IV, G’05, wants his students to excel professionally, he’s equally zealous about them maintaining a strong moral compass.

“I hope that I help in creating compassionate business leaders — people who not only have the business acumen to lead and manage well, but who realize what they do is really important,” said Holmes, a native of Walkerton, a small town in King and Queen County, Virginia. “Decisions that they make can impact thousands, if not millions of people.”

An assistant professor of management and director of access and outreach for business education on the Camden, New Jersey, campus of Rutgers University’s School of Business, Holmes uses innovative strategies to illustrate how there’s room for different approaches — and types of people — in the business world.

I hope that I help in creating compassionate business leaders.

For example, in his organizational behavior course, Holmes developed a civic engagement component in which students partner with local and national nonprofits to help raise funds and awareness. And as the director of the Rutgers University Student Executive program, he recruits local high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in business majors, introduces them to business leaders, and has them pitch business ideas in a Shark Tank-style competition, all over the course of nine weeks in the summer.

“Many times, underrepresented students like to go into helping professions just based off of our cultural affinity to help our communities, which is a great passion, great endeavor,” said Holmes, 36, a Poets & Quants “Best 40 Under 40 Professors” selection in 2018. 

“If they get trained in a school of business so that they can graduate and then really make an impact in many of these companies and organizations,” he added, “then they can be in leadership roles and make even more dramatic impacts on their communities.”