2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Soo Kim, Johnson School

Soo Kim

Assistant Professor of Marketing

Cornell University Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management


Soo Kim_Cornell-2

When Soo Kim completed the PhD program at the Kellogg School of Management, she wasted no time blazing her trail as an up-and-coming, young business professor to watch. According to the Johnson School staff, Kim stepped into one of the institution’s toughest teaching assignments—the MBA core curriculum. The role is usually filled by senior faculty, yet she was selected to be the only junior, female faculty member teaching in the core. Her first semester at Johnson (Fall 2014), Kim co-taught the required marketing course to all first-year MBA students . . . in four back-to-back sections . . . for six hours straight. Using her youthfulness as an advantage, students say that Kim is a good listener and that they often leave her office less stressed than when they came. On the research front, Kim looks at how consumption behaviors and egos collide; otherwise known as compensatory consumption. Since becoming a professor in late 2014, Kim’s research has already been published three times by Journal of Consumer research which is one of the top journals in the marketing/consumer fields.

Age: 31

At current institution since: 2014


PhD, Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, 2014; MS, Communication, Cornell University, 2009; BS, Psychology, Ewha Womans University, Korea, 2007

Courses currently teaching: MBA Marketing Core (Marketing Management) 

Professor you most admire: I have great respect for my academic advisor, Prof. Miguel Brendl at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He is the prototype of a scholar.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when” When I was admitted to a Marketing PhD program

“If I weren’t a b-school professor” I’d run an animal shelter. 

Most memorable moment in the classroom or as a professor: Tough one… I’ve only been a professor for 7 months. Ask me again in 7 years?

What professional achievement are you most proud of? The fact that I survived teaching the MBA core on my first faculty semester (and that students still say “hi” when they see me). 

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Getting to meet people who have “real” jobs 

What do you enjoy least? Having to wake up for the morning section

Fun fact about yourself: When I was in middle and high school my friends swore that I would end up being a professor and I solemnly swore that I would never be one or aim to be one. Never say never. 

Favorite book: The Old Man and The Sea, Hemingway 

Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption & The Nightmare Before Christmas 

Favorite type of music: Don’t really have one but I must listen to Britney when I write. 

Favorite television show: The Walking Dead 

Favorite vacation spot: Bali and anywhere warmer than Ithaca 

What are your hobbies? I make things. Recently I made a mini wooden whale that apparently looked like a tadpole. 

Students say…

“What I really loved about Professor Kim’s lectures was her enthusiasm and ability to strike an engaging balance between concepts and application. From seamlessly incorporating media and humor in her instruction, to explaining complex concepts in a clear and caring manner, she did a truly wonderful and impressive job in her first semester of teaching!”

—Deborah Gan-Lin Feng, MBA ‘16 

Professor Kim treats her students as more than just numbers. I felt comfortable reaching out to her whenever I needed further guidance on class material. Even when the topic was not one she had taught, Professor Kim would know the material and explain it in a very clear manner. Her lectures were so much fun, because she used humor to keep students engaged. Professor Kim is a great professor, mentor, and friend to me, and I am fortunate to have been in her class!

—Fatma Barkus, MBA ‘16

Soo Kim is that special kind of professor who doesn’t just invest in teaching her classes well, but invests in the individual learning of the students. Early in the semester, she found out that I was interested in decision science.  She shared my passion, and was happy to talk to me about it after class, recommending several great books on the topic.  That’s not particularly unusual with professors at Johnson. However, what surprised me was the follow up e-mail she sent me, with links to the books, to make it easier for me to continue my exploration.  I hadn’t even remembered giving her my e-mail address. Throughout the semester she continued to support me in my learning goals—even those that were completely outside the scope of the class she was teaching.  At one point I was struggling with a framework I had read about online, tying business plans to basic human needs.  I asked her about it, and she literally did research on my behalf, sending me articles on other frameworks that might help complete my understanding.

 —Dax Howard, MBA ‘16

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