Our 2016 Honor Roll: The 40 Under 40 Most Outstanding MBA Professors

Some of this year's most outstanding 40 under 40 professors at leading business schools

Some of this year’s most outstanding 40 under 40 professors at leading business schools

What’s on your bucket list of things to achieve before 40? For those of us who haven’t reached this milestone yet, our lists are likely filled with adventure, maybe exotic travel destinations, and career goals. If you’re looking for inspiration, the accomplishments of this year’s 40 Under 40 professors at leading graduate schools of business won’t disappoint.

Poets&Quants returns with its annual list of rising stars at business schools from around the world. As in previous years, we put out a call for nominations. The response was immediate and the response was incredible. In all, 75 professors from 40 different business schools all over the world were nominated by students, alumni and the schools themselves.

Harvard's Rory McDonald got the most nominations

Harvard’s Rory McDonald got the most nominations

What the nominations uncovered is an inspiring group of young women and men who are making red hot names for themselves through academic research and classroom teaching. Here, we speak of classroom teaching that’s so impactful, it’s almost legendary as it causes groups of students (and even alumni) to ban together and submit one nomination after another..after another.

Harvard Business School’s Rory McDonald received a whopping 20 nominations, the most ever received by a faculty member in the four times that Poet&Quants has showcased the top under 40 professors since 2011. The 37-year-old McDonald consistently gets rave reviews for his teaching of the elective course Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise after having won similar praise for having taught the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum. University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s András Tilcsik, a 34-year-old assistant professor of strategic management, wasn’t far behind with 13 nominations, while Wharton’s Laura Huang, a 37-year-old teacher of entrepreneurship, received 10.


Although we couldn’t highlight every single faculty member who was nominated, in the pages that follow we’ll introduce you to 40 of the brightest and youngest minds who serve on the faculty at MBA programs across the globe. You’ll get to know how one professor’s research has changed the design of retirement savings for tens of millions both here and abroad, how another is using neuromarketing techniques to gain insights consumer behavior, and one more who is spearheading efforts to analyze the design of energy and climate change policy in China. They travel from state to state, country to country, speaking about the insightful findings uncovered in their research. For example, in the last five years, Tuck School of Business’ Adam Kleinbaum has given close to 30 talks around the world, while Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business regularly receives a slew of invitations to speak before Federal Reserve Banks, White House councils, and economics/finance industry peers.

You’ll also get a taste for some classic and unforgettable teacher moments. Some quirky–celebrating the wedding of two students who started dating in one professor’s seminar. Some rewarding–Professor Erika Hall of Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business says the best moments are when students reveal that she’s helped earn them an extra $5,000 – $10,000 in salary because of the negotiation techniques she taught them.

But some of the best teacher moments are plain laugh-out-loud funny. How’s dancing with 25 MBA students in a trashy nightclub in Chile at four in the morning sound? We can only imagine. Or getting booed on the first day of class for being a Packers fan in Pittsburgh? What about students plotting an elaborate scheme to have your spouse show up for class? True story!

  • Paul Shart

    You have no clue what you are talking about. Just have a look at the public state websites the list the salaries of faculty…take special note of the business school faculty and then come back here and comment.

  • KV

    In addition to the comments below, keep in mind that from a faculty perspective, the ranking of desirable institutions looks very different than it is for students or outsiders. You say “even in Harvard” but some of the top young faculty (some on this list) turned down offers from HBS and other (to an outsider) high-prestige places for much better deals elsewhere. The game is very different from the inside…

  • SJL

    Well….if you are an assistant professor, you certainly don’t have the summers off. At least if you plan on making tenure at respectable schools. You’ll spend the entire summer trying to get publications.

  • Cochese

    Professors can also command large (~$30,000) speaking fees and they have summers off. If you’re more curious, Florida and Texas both publish public university salaries.

  • SJL

    Yes, it is more than most MBAs would make a few years out of the program. But you’ve got to remember that many folks with PhDs in business have an MBA or another masters degree. Plus a 5 year PhD program. So 10-11 years of education.

    In addition, the upside potential isn’t nearly as high as in the corporate world. Academia is notorious for salary inversion. If you don’t produce research wise then your starting salary may be the most you ever make (in terms of real dollars).

    The primary ways to get salary increases are lateral or upwards school moves (which means you need to be doing pretty well research wise) or to jump into administration. Even then, you are pretty much looking at a maximum of $450,000 or so for well-known chaired full professors…or a dean position at a high quality state school or private school.

  • dergo

    thats better than career in corporate. MBAs don’t make this amount two to three year out of b school.

  • Anonymous

    SJL is right. A first-year assistant prof in a major business school would make at least 160k (including summer support). The figure can go up to around 220k for an Ivy League institution.

  • Prakesh

    even in Harvard.

  • Prakesh

    I disagree, this is too much for assistant, may be for an associate but I never heard of a newly hired fresh phd has been offered more than 70 or 80K..

  • SJL

    Umm….much higher than that. For an assistant professor you are looking at 140k – 230k depending on the discipline (i.e., marketing v. finance v. accounting) and the quality of the school.

  • Farina

    around $60K to $70k ..

  • yalin

    how much the new assistant professor get paid in top b school?