2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Keisha Cutright, Wharton

Keisha Cutright

Assistant Professor of Marketing

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


Keisha Cutright

Got religion? No? Maybe a new pair of shoes will help. Wharton marketing professor Keisha Cutright’s research into consumer behavior and religion – and conclusions that brands and religiosity can substitute for each other by allowing people to express self-worth – has been featured widely in the media. Her work on consumer behavior makes her a sought-after speaker at conferences, and she publishes in top academic journals such as Marketing Science and the Journal of Consumer Research. Cutright has won excellence in teaching awards at Wharton, plus numerous scholarship honors. A former assistant brand manager for Procter & Gamble, she has a BS in business administration from Ohio State, and a PhD in marketing from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Age: 34

At current institution since: 2011

Education: PhD in Business Administration, Marketing, Duke University 2011

Courses currently teaching: Consumer Behavior

Professor you most admire: My very patient PhD advisors at Duke, Jim Bettman and Gavan Fitzsimons

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…” I went back to my undergrad professors and asked them what they did. I realized at that point that I could keep digging into consumer insights (which I was currently doing at P&G and loved), without being limited to a focus on one brand.

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…”  I’d probably still work in brand management.  But, I’ve secretly wanted to produce radio shows on NPR or TV shows on OWN (even though I don’t know the first thing about producing a show).

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor: When one of my classes broke out into the Harlem Shake to illustrate their understanding of a class concept—music and all.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?  Leaving a great job and great people at P&G to take a more uncertain path and get my PhD.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?  I love it when students contact me later to tell me about their jobs and life experiences.

What do you enjoy least? Without a doubt—grading.    

Fun fact about yourself: I have an uncontrollable fear of cockroaches and similar-looking creatures, but am quite fond of the many (caged) tarantulas living in our basement.

Favorite book:  If forced to pick one, I’d choose A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest Gaines).  It was the first book I read that forced me to face a wide range of intense emotions and led me to change my perspectives on some things.

Favorite movie: The Lion King

Favorite type of music: R&B

Favorite television show: It used to be The Cosby Show, but I’m not sure how to feel about that at the moment.

Favorite vacation spot: Oahu, Hawaii

What are your hobbies? Pretending to be a HGTV star; taking classes to discover a real hobby (e.g., boxing, belly dancing, yoga, tennis, ballroom dancing, etc.)

Twitter handle: No twitter account

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…”  A more diverse body of students and faculty, stronger collaborations with industry and surrounding communities, better food, daycare.

Students say…

Professor Cutright is one of the most talented professors I’ve encountered during my time at Penn. She did an exceptional job making the material of the course that I took with her (MKTG 211: Consumer Behavior) engaging and relevant. Specifically, what made my time in her class so special and what makes her a top-notch professor is her in-class poise; she has a remarkable ability to guide and craft class discussions (and even the most wayward input from students) to convey exactly what is important to the topic at hand. Her course structure, meant to review the previous lecture briefly at the beginning of every new lecture, uniquely reinforces critical course concepts and enhances retention. Moreover, the group project I was a part of in her class was the most rewarding and intellectually stimulating of any I’ve been a part off; having the opportunity to examine the business problems of a real-world retailer through the lens of consumer behavior was one of the most valuable material-application exercises I’ve participated in.

– Victor Castro, BS in economics, 2015

Professor Cutright’s course reaffirmed my interest in the field of marketing, specifically in the consumer behavior aspect of the subject. As a result, I am planning on applying to graduate schools within that field of marketing in the fall. Had I not gained a positive experience from her class—filled with thought-stimulating discussions, fun group work, and engaging lectures–I may be on a complete different educational and career track for the next several years. Her class was really the turning point for me to seriously consider pursuing different academic studies besides biology for post-undergraduate years.  I do not regard her as just an instructor; she’s much more–a personable and a caring mentor, especially when her students reach out. Her class has been one of my favorite courses that I have taken in my (almost) four years at Penn.

– Yoojung Kim

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