Faculty Spotlight: Business School professor models empowered learning

Marta Stelmaszak Rosa

“What is difficult to learn is worth knowing.” 

Marta Stelmaszak Rosa learned this lesson early on, and it might as well be her mantra. The Assistant Professor of Information Systems in PSU’s School of Business spends much of her professional life conducting research and writing academic papers, which she then uses to inform her teaching. 

She’s also a pink belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and dabbles in a variety of creative pursuits, most recently that of hat-making.

Born in Poland, Marta moved to London when she was 18. The first one in her family to go to university, she worked a number of jobs to pay tuition. She started a web design and digital marketing business, and ran a couple of successful small companies. 

Then Marta got into the London School of Economics and Political Science to get her Masters in Management, Information Systems and Digital Innovation. That’s where she became so interested in academia that she decided to commit her life to deep thinking, research and teaching.

Marta came to PSU in the middle of the pandemic. “As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy move, but I’m grateful to have very supportive colleagues,” she says.

Marta agreed to answer a few of our questions recently. Her answers have been edited for brevity.

Q: What do you like most about your work at PSU?

Many students I work with at PSU remind me of my younger self. They’re very determined and dedicated, and want to improve their lives and communities. They also have to face some of the obstacles I dealt with, being new to a country, studying in a second language, or learning as a first generation college student. What I like the most about my job is that I can help by drawing from my own experience, not only academic knowledge and research.

Q: What do you most like to do when you’re away from your work at PSU?

When I came here, I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Portland. I got really into it, and I have spent many hours training specifically for a qualification in self-defense for women called Women Empowered. By the end of February this year, and after over 100 hours of training, I passed the test and was awarded a pink belt to certify my knowledge of techniques and reflexes. What I really like about Jiu-Jitsu is the feeling of confidence and strength that knowing the techniques gives me, but I also made wonderful friends at the training center.

Once a professor, always a professor, so I decided to qualify as an instructor to teach other women how to defend themselves. I’m very excited about the prospect of sharing my knowledge of something less cerebral than business, technology and analytics. I’ll be teaching Women Empowered classes in April 2022, and we’ll be kicking off with a free seminar on April, 2. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

Q: What’s the last book you read or movie you watched that you can’t stop talking about?

I read a lot of books for my research, but one I’ve read recently really captured my imagination. It’s called “Data Feminism”, and it presents a new way of thinking about data that’s very much aligned with my perspective. I can definitely recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the growing role of data in our lives!

Q: What’s your favorite spot on PSU’s campus and why?

I haven’t been going to the campus much since I started because of the pandemic, so I mostly got to know PSU as a community that we’ve all maintained online. What I appreciate the most is the feeling of belonging that is clear in every meeting and online interaction I have with colleagues and students. As we return to the campus, I hope we’ll see the same spirit in physical spaces as well.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or that you regularly pass on to students? 

I used to struggle a lot with difficult subjects I had to learn when studying, and I remember once I said out loud to one of my professors that I wished the topic was easier. The professor replied “nothing worth having comes easy.” This was one of the transformational moments for me because I understood that we should seek effort and struggle as they lead to growth and achievement. I know that my students often find topics that we discuss difficult and they see it as a problem — but it’s quite the opposite! What is difficult to learn is worth knowing.


Portland State’s School of Business is the most affordable AACSB accredited business school in Oregon, with faculty who bring valuable business experience and connections to bear. The school embraces a holistic approach to education, taking students out of the classroom and into the community. We offer our undergraduate degree in eight concentrations, nine graduate degree programs, a variety of certificate programs and continuing education through our Center for Executive and Professional Education.

One thought on “Faculty Spotlight: Business School professor models empowered learning

  1. To tell the truth, I have always admired people such as Marta Stelmaszak Rosa because they blow my mind with their purposelessness and a huge aspiration to fulfill their ambitions, being strong inside. It is so cool that Marta finds herself in so many students because they can learn a lot of things on the basis of her experience and learn from her mistakes. Honestly, I am amazed by the versatility of Marta and that she became a professional in Jiu-Jitsu. The goal to teach other women how to defend themselves arouses a huge respect because I think that it is absolutely necessary and it is truly sad that a lot of them are vulnerable and defenseless, being subject to the violence from the side of men. I think that thanks to such people as Marta a great deal of women will be able to feel confident, being strong inside and outside.

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