Best 40-Under-40 Professor Rodrigo Canales

Rodrigo Canales of Yale's School of Management is one of Poets&Quants' 40 best professors under 40

Rodrigo Canales of Yale’s School of Management is one of Poets&Quants’ 40 best professors under 40

Rodrigo Canales

Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior

Age: 38

Institution: Yale University, Yale School of Management

Since: 2008

Before current institution: MIT

Hometown: Mexico City

Marital status: Married

Children: 8-month old baby boy


Industrial Engineering, Universidad Iberoamericana

MBA, MIT Sloan School of Management

PhD, Economic Sociology, MIT Sloan School of Management

Courses currently teaching: Core course on innovation, the Innovator Perspective

Fun fact:  

–       Four-legged animals outnumber humans in our household. We did not intend for this to happen.

–       I find geese fascinating to the point of obsession. I have done some pretty stupid things trying to follow/observe geese.

–       My participant observation research in microfinance was like a season of Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs.” I found myself shearing sheep, collecting trash, butchering, milking cows, delivering milk, fixing cars, gutting fish, and, in one particularly unexpected turn of events, as a guest in a local drug lord’s house.

Professor you most admire: Impossible to list just one. Rick Locke for his commitment to big problems and to his students. Ezra Zuckerman for his intellectual generosity. Jim March for his contributions to organizational theory.

Most memorable moment as a professor: I like experiential sessions, where students learn through doing rather than just consuming information. Some of these are case competitions, where students in teams have a set amount of time to provide a solution to a case. One team created a James Bond-type “Innovation suit” with all kinds of hidden gadgets–each of which related to concepts from the course. They did not just deliver the suit; they demonstrated how it worked through a skit. It was brilliant and hilarious. I still have that suit in my office.

“If I weren’t a B-school professor…” I would probably work in impact investing or in social/policy innovation–I was headed toward impact investing when I decided to get my PhD.

Twitter: @CanalesRo

Students Say…

Rodrigo exemplifies the Yale SOM philosophy of educating leaders for business and society in an increasingly complex world.  From his research on social enterprise and microfinance, to advising the Design & Innovation Club, to teaching the Innovator perspective in SOM’s core curriculum, his dedication to advancing a holistic view of business is apparent in all he does.  His TED talk on Mexican drug cartels and his work with Innovations for Poverty Action only show a tiny fraction of the passion he brings to the classroom. Moreover, he is extremely generous with his time when it comes to his students. Instrumental in the creation of the Design & Innovation Club (now the second largest club on campus), he continues to work with student leaders to bring dynamic thought leaders from industry, government, and the social sector to Yale, including Tim Brown, visionary CEO of IDEO.

What do brand management and Mexican drug cartels have in common? In just three months, Rodrigo Canales’ TED talk on the matter has accumulated over 1 million views. In it, he argues that drug-related violence is not about goons mindlessly killing each other; rather, it’s the result of some seriously sophisticated brand management.

This top prof. researches the role of institutions in entrepreneurship and economic development. More precisely, he examines how individuals purposefully change complex organizations or systems. One particular focus of his work homes in on the institutional implications of Mexico’s war on drugs. A native of Mexico City, Canales also uses his expertise to help those in his homeland by advising startups that seek to improve finance opportunities for small businesses.

Rodrigo Canales is among “The World’s 40 Best B-School Profs Under the Age of 40

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