A great teacher, it has been said, is like a candle. It consumes itself to light the way for others.
That’s an incredibly apt description for these 50 business school professors chosen by Poets&Quants as the world’s best. Most of these extraordinary teachers, chosen by their schools and their students, are long time legends in the academic community.
They’ve withstood the tests of time, taught through bear markets and bull markets, and have consistently taught life changing lessons to MBA students year after year. In some cases, decade after decade. And they are not merely great teachers—they are great faculty members, masters in both the classroom and in cutting edge research.
SOME 12 OUT OF THE 50 BEST PROFESSORS ARE WOMEN
The list includes famous superstar professors, such as Harvard’s Clayton Christensen, Wharton’s Jeremy Siegel and Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer, as well as faculty little known outside their schools or fields of study, such as operations maven Michael Trick at Carnegie Mellon or finance expert Dana Muir at Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Some 12 of the 50 are women, while nine are Indian, including Dartmouth’s Vijay Govindarajan, the innovation guru at the Tuck School, and NYU’s Aswath Damodaran, the self-effacing master of finance at the Stern School.
They often bring novel approaches to both research and teaching. Peter Ubel, who teaches health care management at Duke University’s Fuqua School, once recruited students to ride up and down in hospital elevators to listen in on conversations. They overheard all kinds of hospital employees making completely inappropriate remarks. That study was covered by media all over the world. Babson College’s Candida Brush, obsessive in her love for the game of golf, frequently uses the game as a metaphor for teaching business and entrepreneurship. “Things like focus, follow through, and flexibility are all skills that apply to the golf course, the classroom, and the office,” she says.
If they weren’t teachers, their “dream jobs” would include a wide variety of professional options. Myles Shaver, an extraordinary strategy professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School, would imagine himself the host of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Sharon Oster, the former dean of Yale University’s School of Business, would ideally be a comedianne. Berkeley’s Atif Mian would trade his expertise in finance to become a molecular biologist. And then, there are a few with a clear sports bent: Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland’s Smith School, dreams of being the owner of the New York Giants. NYU’s Aswath Damodaran imagines himself in the lineup for the New York Yankees’ as Derek Jeter’s successor at shortstop.
What most motivates these top professors is an intellectual curiosity fueled by tremendous passion. To Charles Calomiris at Columbia Business School, the best part of being a business school professor is having “the freedom to think for myself and express those thoughts as I please.” To Sridhar Balasubramanian, or Dr. B for short, at North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, being a business academic means “being paid to think, and to shape minds and lives.”