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Aaron Chatterji: In the Shoes of His Students

Aaron (Ronnie) Chatterji of Duke University's Fuqua School is among the 40 best business school profs under 40.

Aaron (Ronnie) Chatterji of Duke University’s Fuqua School is among the 40 best business school profs under 40.

Not many 32-year-olds can say they’ve worked as an adviser to the administration of a U.S. president, but Aaron Chatterji can say just that. The strategy professor is currently on leave from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business at the White House Council of Economic Advisers where he is a Senior Economist working on entrepreneurship and innovation policy.

In the past, Professor Chatterji has testified as an expert witness at the House Committee on Small Business and the U.S. Department of State. He has advised national, state, and local campaigns on economic policy and was a surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008. He also led South Asians for Obama in North Carolina during the 2008 election.

My teaching philosophy as a business professor is to put myself in my students’ shoes. I start by asking myself: What would I want to get out of the course? Which concepts would I find most difficult? Which assignment s would I discover to be most valuable?

However, it is also important to realize that students have different learning styles. So, I try to find multiple ways to teach the same concept, which I find to be the best way to help the entire class master the material.

I find that Fuqua students are friendly and team players. They want to succeed in their careers, save the world, and strike the right balance between work, play, and family. I find that I have a lot in common with them.

Four words I would use to describe the school are cooperative culture, rich tradition, globally-oriented, and Cameron Crazies.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a young professor? At my age, it is easy to relate to my students and empathize with them. What I think will get easier as I grow older, is that they will stay the same age, and I will feel like I have a growing advantage over them in terms of wisdom!


My most rewarding moments as a professor are when I receive notes from former students who are applying the concepts we have learned in class.

As a researcher, I enjoy presenting my work in academic seminars and engaging in the back and forth discussion with other scholars. This is the best way I have found to improve any paper and get smarter.

There’s always room for improvement. As a professor, I’ve recognized the need to speak slower in my lectures and push myself to try new things in class; even when I am more comfortable teaching the lessons I have done before.

If I wasn’t teaching, I would probably be working in government.