Darden: Where Great Teachers Are Gods

‘YOU ARE VERY QUIET TODAY. ARE YOU SNOWED IN?’

To one relatively subdued student, he quips: “You’re very quiet today. Are you snowed in?”

But Allayannis keeps the conversation moving at a rapid speed, calling students out by name, and using pithy questions and comments to help the students draw their own conclusions.

He’s frequently connecting issues in the case with previous classes on everything from junk bonds to collateralized debt obligations and referring students to one of the seven exhibits—charts and tables–in the Lehman case study.

Throughout, he’s self-deprecating and humorous. He calls credit default swaps—a financial instrument that insured investors against loan defaults–“the iPad of Wall Street innovation. Everybody had to have it, and yet it was thought of as the dark matter of the universe, Wall Street’s worst innovation.”

‘MY GOAL IS TO STRETCH THE QUANTS TYPES WHILE STILL MAKING IT RELEVANT FOR THE POETS’

“The class is all about engagement,” says Allayannis later. “You need to get everybody’s attention for 90 minutes. My goal is to stretch the quant types in finance, pushing them beyond what they know, while still making the class relevant and clear to the poets. You really have to figure out how to give something to everybody. You have to turn the quants into teachers. They use jargon in the beginning and you slow them down.”

His best advice to the younger colleagues he mentors? “You have to be true to yourself. You have got to find what really makes you and go for it. Let your instincts drive you and then always ask yourself how do I get better? Nobody can be a good teacher without effort, even if you are a natural born teacher. It’s impossible.”

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