While she has the perspective of a psychologist, Cristina Simón believes that when teaching organisational behaviour and human resources management to MBA students, the subject must be closely related so the harder-edged side of business. “I try not to talk as a psychologist but to talk their own language and bring the subject closer to the reality of business and corporate performance,” she says. “Our students are demanding HR with more practical approach. The academic background is important of course - but the hands-on experience is critical.”

Her years spent working for consultants such as Coopers & Lybrand and Ernst & Young have given her a distinct advantage in this respect. And she maintains her links with the corporate world through an HR benchmarking club, which meets regularly to share data and examples of best practice in linking HR with corporate performance

In 2010 Prof. Simón was offered a Chair in People Management by Inditex, the top fashion retailer with Zara as its flagship brand. Financial Times described her role as ‘embedded academic’ at the company. She describes her role as an “an idea provider“ alerting the company to HR trends and offering context about what is going on in other industries and sectors. “I raise interest in topics that might be valuable for the company – and I raise questions and issues that they don’t like. I have 100 per cent academic freedom.”