Make no mistake, these young business scholars are also making a tremendous impact in their respective fields. They bring to the classroom a wealth of knowledge from pre-academia work experience, consulting gigs, and their own academic research. Yale finance professor Heather Tookes, 36, has presented her findings to government regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, while Lubos Pastor, 36, of Chicago’s Booth School has earned such honors as the Nasdaq Award, the Goldman Sachs Asset Management Prize, and the Barclay’s Global Investors Prize for his academic studies. Though only 32, Ronnie Chatterji of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is senior economist to President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers (See “Ronnie Chatterji: In the Shoes of His Students.”) And finance whiz Lucio Sarno, 39, of London’s Cass School of Business has racked up more than 60 authored articles in top economics and finance journals (See “Lucio Sarno: Great Teaching Is About Relevance & Ethics.”).
Despite the broad diversity in their backgrounds and expertise, these exceptional professors share a common gift, if not pure love, for teaching. Almost all have been recognized with awards for teaching excellence. They hail from all the core business disciplines—finance, economics, marketing, management operations, strategy, and also social enterprise and entrepreneurship. They often take academic risks, pursuing passions within key subject areas instead of following the academic herd. And many of them are as intellectually engaging as they are entertaining.
Consider Adam Grant, 29, a one-time magician who teaches leadership at The Wharton School, engages students by using Apprentice-style challenges in class. “Performing as a magician taught me the value of surprises and well-crafted stories,” says Grant. “I ask myself how I would want to be treated as a student.” (See “Adam Grant: Apprentice-Style Challenges.”
Derek Rucker, 33, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, has twice eaten 48-ounce steaks as part of Shula’s steak challenge so he can more convincingly talk about the advertising and marketing implications of the event. “I want my legacy as a professor to be my steady attempt to bring cases to life,” says Rucker. “I do a Creepy Burger King Demonstration” where I get a former student to dress up in a Burger King costume and secretly plant the person in the rear of the class.” (See “Derek Rucker: Bringing Courses to Life.”
Tim Vogus, 36, a management professor at Vanderbilt’s Owen School, has been known to bust a rhyme in class, rapping to tracks by the Beastie Boys, among others. He sometimes ambushes the class by transforming himself into a character from a case study and forcing his students to respond to the executive he plays. “It’s a technique that gets students to manage difficult situations in the moment,” he says. (See “Tim Vogus: Rapping Out a Business Lesson.“)