2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School


Professor of Business Administration – Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit

Harvard Business School


 Francesca Gino_Harvard-2

Francesca Gino’s research and expertise on decision-making moves beyond business borders by appealing to both the management and psychology fields. The work she’s produced has been published by leading academic journals across both areas and her studies have been featured in a range of news media publications including The New York Times and Newsweek as well as Psychology Today and Scientific American. Gino’s contributions to the Harvard University community are similarly diverse. Though a professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at HBS, she’s also formally affiliated with the Program on Negotiation at the law school and with the university’s Mind, Brain, Behavior Initiative. Gino’s popular book “Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan” has been translated into eight different languages.

Age: 36

At current institution since: 2010

Education: PhD, Economics and Management, 2004 from Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, in Pisa, Italy

Courses currently teaching: For MBAs, I teach the second-year elective course on Negotiation. For PhD students, I teach a course on Decision Making and a course on Experimental Methods. In Executive Education, I regularly teach in dedicated one-week courses on negotiation, which are offered multiple times a year (Changing the Game and Strategic Negotiations). I also co-chair and teach in a new Executive Education Course on Behavioral Economics.

Professor you most admire: HBS professor Max Bazerman, for always inspiring me to be a better scholar and a better human being.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when” I found myself writing a book based on my college thesis with my college thesis advisor and another professor. I loved the feeling of ‘making science’ and truly enjoyed writing about it with inspiring mentors. I wanted to have the type of impact on others that my mentors had on me!

“If I weren’t a b-school professor” I would be an architect, designing houses rather than decisions. Or perhaps a racecar driver, since I love cars and also riding motorcycles.

Most memorable moment in the classroom or as a professor: Whenever students tell me they used what they’ve learned in class to create value for them and others and make the world a better place. That is incredibly rewarding.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Writing my book, Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan, and being able to give a copy of it translated into Italian to my parents, who live in Italy. That way, they finally understood what I do for a living!

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Having the opportunity to change the way students think about a topic. And I also really enjoy learning from them.

What do you enjoy least? Not knowing whether what I teach will stick with students for a long time.

Fun fact about yourself: I love riding motorcycles and making pasta from scratch. I took a comedy improv class a few years ago and discovered I was funny simply because I could not understand jokes in English based on idiomatic expressions.

Favorite book: One of my favorite books is Blindness, by Portuguese author Jose’ Saramago, for making me realize how much the things we take for granted every day matter.

Favorite movie: Many. One of them is “The Intouchables,” an amazing story of friendship.

Favorite type of music: Whatever makes my two-year old son say, “Let’s have a dance party!”

Favorite television show: Top Gear, a BBC show about cars and driving (on my bucket list: to drive the lap on the top gear test track, and do it fast!).

Favorite vacation spot: Tione di Trento, Italy, where I grew us as a child and where my family still lives.

What are your hobbies? Cooking and sports. Also, looking at my guitar and wondering why I did not take guitar lessons more seriously when I was younger

Twitter handle: @francescagino

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have” An espresso machine in every classroom.

Students say…

What do you get when you mix incredible negotiating acumen, remarkable insight into how individuals make decisions, and a passion for motorcycles? The result is Professor Gino, and taking her Negotiation course was one of the most amazing experiences of my time at HBS. Prof. Gino’s preparation for each class was awe-inspiring, and her presentations on negotiating theory invariably contained unique and valuable insights. She also invested an enormous amount of time to ensure we mastered the curriculum and spent hours watching film of our negotiations! Prof. Gino’s enthusiasm always made class a high-energy and engaging experience that was tremendously educational. Prof. Gino also generously spends her time with students outside of the classroom and helped myself and fellow students think through how to negotiate job offers and make significant life choices. I am enormously grateful for her guidance and I look forward to applying the principles of negotiation we learned and sharing the resulting success stories with Prof. Gino.

– Dominic Phillips, Harvard Business School, Class of 2015

Perhaps some people do have all the luck. Francesca is as warm and lovely as she is shrewd and intelligent. Being in her class was a true delight. She has a wonderful friendly style – but don’t relax too much – she loves to engage in a feisty debate if there is even a slight flaw in your line of reasoning. Unlike other classes though where people sweat bullets when cold-called, you know Francesca is always on your side. Her knowledge of negotiations is phenomenal (yes she has written a book on it!) and she brings a lot of great real-world experience to the classroom.  Her love of her topic is infectious. So much so that on the last day of class she gave us all T-shirts with “HBS negotiations” printed on them! And the cherry on top?  She’s actually cool!  Francesca is as comfortable in heels as she is in her well-worn Converse sneakers and she loves nothing more than hanging out with students over lunch. Time at business school is a precious commodity but time spent with Francesca, in any setting, is time well spent. Can I take her course again?

– Tim Leach, Harvard Business School, Class of 2015

Francesca is a fantastic professor! Even with her authentic Italian accent she has that magical ability to engage the entire class in a meaningful debate! Energy, empathy, fun and lessons applicable immediately for your professional AND personal life is what makes a great professor: Francesca nails it all! As if that was not enough she will also support you beyond the classroom in an intelligent and genuine way. Bottom line: Thanks to Francesca, Negotiations was my preferred class during my entire MBA at HBS.

– Artus de Longuemar, Harvard Business School, Class of 2015

The most influential professors show us how to view our environments in new and thought-provoking ways. While it’s challenging to do that in any academic discipline, I believe it is especially so within the field of negotiations where “winning at all costs” is often perceived as a maxim to transcend all others. In taking professor Francesca Gino’s Negotiations class my 2nd year at Harvard Business School, I can remember having several paradigm shifts of the kind described. From learning to embrace the ambiguities of high-stakes deal-making to focusing on value creation for all potential deal participants, I constantly apply the lessons from her class in both my professional and personal life. Her ability to make every person feel like their voice is heard is also noteworthy because professors can rarely impart so much wisdom while still making students feel empowered in their pre-existing beliefs and convictions. In personal interactions during and after taking her class, I have appreciated her empathy and candor. Without question and whenever possible, she has consistently been a helping hand and a trusted source for advice and reassurance. A year after graduating HBS, I am imbued with a sense of optimism about how I can make the world a better place. I can pay no higher compliment to Francesca’s teaching abilities than to say that she played a central role in shaping this perspective – I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without her guidance and tutelage.

– Nick Singh, Harvard Business School, Class of 2014 

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