2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Andrew Stephen, Katz School

Andrew Stephen

Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Katz Fellow in Marketing

University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business


Andrew Stephen

Listening to Beyonce could hardly be described as a serious-minded activity. Studying Beyonce, however – that’s a different story. Katz Graduate School of Business professor Andrew Stephen, an expert in social media marketing, created a case study around the pop superstar’s fifth studio album release, in which she spurned conventional pre-release marketing to capitalize on the effects of surprise. And it worked. The question for students: was it a one-off, or are there useful strategies to cull from the star’s surprise approach? Marketing prof Stephen has won awards across a range that highlights his skills as a teacher and researcher. His 2009 Columbia University PhD dissertation on social networking and consumer-driven marketplaces put him at the forefront of social media marketing research.

Age:  34

At current institution since: 2011

Education: PhD, Marketing, Columbia University, 2009

Courses currently teaching:  Social Media Strategy, Digital and Social Media Analytics

Professor you most admire:   Don Lehmann (marketing, Columbia Business School)

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…”  When I discovered that one could pursue a career in which you can simultaneously impact business scholarship and practice by pursuing one’s passions and interests.

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…”  I would be a civil engineer in Australia, probably working on road or bridge construction projects (that’s what I studied in college)!

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor:  When I learned that a student of mine who had previously been a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs before her MBA decided to change careers to marketing (digital marketing, in particular) because of my class.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Being one of the first professors to develop an MBA course on social media marketing strategy and having successfully taught it not only at Pitt but also at schools such as INSEAD and Columbia.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?  Learning new things from my students. I teach social media marketing, so there’s always a new example or case study that I’ve not heard about that a student mentions and sparks a fascinating conversation.

What do you enjoy least?  Grading.

Fun fact about yourself:  I’m from Australia.

Favorite book:  The one I’m currently writing on social media marketing!

Favorite movie:  I guess I should say “The Social Network” but, to be honest, it is probably “Coming To America” starring Eddie Murphy.

Favorite type of music: Alt rock

Favorite television show:  An oldie but a goodie – The West Wing

Favorite vacation spot:  Someplace warm, by the ocean, at a luxury resort

What are your hobbies? I have a baby son at home, so there’s not much spare time. Though I’ve recently taken up running.

Twitter handle: @AndrewTStephen

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…”  A revamped marketing curriculum that reflects the revolution that professional marketing is currently undergoing — it should be just as much a “quant” field as finance, given the explosion in availability of customer data, marketing analytics, and the need for smart data-driven marketing decision making.

Students say…

Hands down the best professor I’ve had in my entire academic career. Can deliver very complex and sometimes quant-heavy topics in a way that even an English major (guilty) can understand. Taught me so much more stat than any of my stat courses. There’s a reason his courses fill up 10 minutes after registration opens.

– Chris Millard, MBA 2015

He integrates the language of data, the marketing story-telling language that should stem from data, and delivers it in an authentic voice that earns the trust, respect, and enthusiasm of his students. His classes were always packed. We sometimes forgot we were in school because we were simply so engrossed in learning (an almost mythical victory for any teacher or school). I remember a few classes where students not enrolled had heard about Andrew and were content to sit in the aisles just to be part of the learning and fun. Never a cheap showman, it was his warmth, wit, and relatable personality that earned connection between student and teacher. He made each class a valuable conversation instead of a lecture.

– Stephanie McHenry, MBA 2013

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