2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Andrew Davis, Johnson School

Andrew Davis

Assistant Professor of Operations, Technology, and Information Management 

Cornell University Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management


Andrew Davis

A group of students showing up to class wearing beer helmets isn’t an uncommon thing when you’re talking about a class taught by professor Andrew Davis of Cornell’s Johnson School. Davis joined Cornell in 2011 and has since been impressing students with his knowledge, teaching style, and sense of humor. Davis teaches in the Cornell Executive MBA Americas, where, from an on-campus studio, he conducts class via interactive videoconferencing for students in classroom locations in 19 cities throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. When he’s not making creative use of the teaching studio’s “greenscreen” to engage students in study of supply chain management (for instance, using a green blanket to cover everything but his face and superimposing it on another person while presenting material), Davis is conducting research via his operations management simulations. At 34, this top professor has held leadership roles in top operations management academic associations, including president elect of the Behavioral Management Section of The Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS); co-chair of the Supply Chain Special Interest Group Conference at the annual Manufacturing and Service Operations Management conference; chair of  the Behavioral Operations Track at the annual INFORMS Conference; and chair of the 10th Annual Behavioral Operations Management Conference.

Age: 34

At current institution since: 2011

Education: PhD Business Administration, Supply Chain and Information Systems, 2011, Penn State University; MBA Supply Chain Management, 2006, Penn State University; BA Economics, 2003, Colgate University.

Courses currently teaching: Managing Operations

Professor you most admire: Ed Coulson – an amazing professor who conveyed advanced concepts in a simple way, while also tossing in humor (not an easy feat in econometrics).

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when” The first year of my MBA, when I was assigned as a graduate assistant for professors Gary Bolton and Elena Katok, and started to run controlled experiments to study decision-making in businesses.

“If I weren’t a b-school professor” I’d be an oceanographer…or open a Waffle Shop in Ithaca.

Most memorable moment in the classroom or as a professor: In 2013, when my executive MBA students surprised me and wore “beer helmets” during the (Root) Beer Game supply chain simulation exercise.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Being part of the Operations, Technology and Information Management group at Johnson. They are an outstanding group of scholars.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Case discussions in-class. I also enjoy when working one-on-one with a student, and, after struggling to understand a concept, the student has that “aha!” moment and it clicks for them.

What do you enjoy least? Grading, grading, and grading.

Fun fact about yourself: I named my dog “Logit,” after a statistical model.  Also, I’m 6’ 8’’, but no, I don’t play basketball.

Favorite book: I have two: Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely), an excellent book on decision-making, and Deception Point (Dan Brown), just a fun book.

Favorite movie: Gladiator

Favorite type of music: Classical, especially Chopin and Mozart. Also, KC and the Sunshine Band.

Favorite television show: 24, Breaking Bad, Big Bang Theory

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere with a nice, sandy beach.

What are your hobbies? Cycling, tennis, piano, and video games. And of course spending time with my wife Natalia.

Twitter handle: Don’t have one, I find myself too wordy for 140 characters.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have” Classes conducted using virtual reality.

Students say…

Professor Davis embodies the traits of a scholar and an academician. He creates a unique atmosphere of applied learning essentially by integrating fundamentals and concepts into real life situations and examples. He very much influenced me through his approach of applying creative and out-of-box thinking in solving critical management issues of operations and supply chain. One can read and understand a course book. But what Professor Davis taught cannot be mastered by just reading the book. He taught us how to apply the book to real life issues!

—Amit K. Gupta, MBA ‘15

I worked in operations and project management for many years, before earning an MBA. It was very refreshing to sit in Professor Davis’ Operations class. Not only was the class very enjoyable, with the “beer game” and Toyota case studies, it also provided me a systematical view in modern operations’ challenges and opportunities. Professor Davis inspired me in integrating industry experiences with academic research—I decided to start my own research in operations soon!”

—Si Zhu Gao, MBA, 14

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