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.”

DON’T MISS: THE 40 BEST B-SCHOOL PROFESSORS UNDER THE AGE OF 40 or HOW DARDEN BECAME NO. 1 IN STUDENT SATISFACTION

  • Sloanie,

    No argument from me. We called her out in a feature on the 40 best professors under 40 when she was at Harvard Business School and also profiled her here. I consider Harvard’s decisions to let her go a huge mistake.

  • Sloanie

    Someone should profile Zeynep Ton at MIT. She is the best teacher I have ever had at any level. By far. She makes a normally tough topic to teach, operations, seem fascinating and integrates all aspects of business in doing so.

  • Great article! I fondly remember Yiorgos running around the classroom yelling “more hands! more hands! new hands!”

  • Constantinos Aritzis

    Great article on a subject that often doesn’t get the credit it deserves both from students and MBA programs. It took me back to my Chicago Booth days (back then it was simply GSB) and I remember opting out from a class taught by a Nobel Prize winner because he simply didn’t put enough into teaching. At the same time I had some great transforming teaching experiences that I still remember fondly. Congratulations to Yiorgos and Darden (just wish we had more Allayiannis in Greek Universities).

  • srini

    It’s fantastic to read a story like this. I wanted to jump right into my laptop screen and land in Prof. Yiorgos’ class and listen to the discussion about the Wall Street bailouts. What a great story…I hope the students in his class truly appreciate the opportunity that they have.

  • Kendall Jennings

    Great article. Thank you, Mr. Byrne. I’m so glad to see Darden, and our teachers, get the praise they deserve. Being part of this community is one of the greatest honors I have had in my life.

  • Peter,

    Right you are. I debated bringing that up, but ultimately decided this story was long enough! But it is a very big and important deal.

  • Peter Rabover

    Great write up about Yiorgos! He deserves all the praise he gets.

    I am surprised the article failed to mention (or maybe I missed it) his significant presence as the head of Darden Capital Management, an intense process where Yiorgos devotes a significant amount of his time and impacted a tremendous number of students over the years. DCM is a two year process of managing a portion of Darden endowment via five portfolios and 23 student portfolio managers which requires careful student selection and significant Board responsibility. Its a 4.5 credit class and he does an outstanding job with it. Congratulations again on all your honors Yiorgos.