Our Favorite MBA Professors Of 2017

Al Osborne

Al Osborne (UCLA)

Al Osborne could easily retire. The senior associate dean at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, Osborne has been a fixture at the school for 43 years. Despite this, he remains one of the most energetic members of the faculty, one who still teaches and supervises projects. “I’m very passionate and committed to helping the learning process,” he told P&Q in 2017. “I love coming onto campus and talking to my students.”

Osborne has long been a legend in South California’s startup scene, where he drove the development of the Price Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which acts as ground zero for new ventures across the UCLA campus. The program’s strength mirror its Southern California milieu to a T: “Consumer-facing, digital content, entertainment tech-enabled that solves a problem in either the b-to-b or b-to-c space.”

At the same time, his mission is simple: “What’s different about what I’m trying to do is to allow our students to collide with scientists and principal investigators and see if there are ideas that can be licensed to solve real problems.”

He certainly has a lot to work with. Aside from UCLA ranking among the world’s top research universities, the Los Angeles metro is associated with the always-growing entertainment industry, which has become increasingly intertwined with the tech sector. In fact, LA has emerged as an upstart “Silicon Beach” answer to the Bay Area corridor. The SoCal region has spun out leading players like SnapChat, while attracting traditional powers like Google and Facebook along with it. In addition, the area’s traditional strength in aerospace, coupled with a wealth of middle market firms, have only increased Anderson’s value to employers in the region – and beyond.

“Anderson taps into this network of startups and established firms,” Osborne emphasizes. “We are the place where companies look for talent.”

Is it any wonder that he’s still giddy to come to work?”

Karl Ulrich

Karl Ulrich (Wharton)

Many people associate Wharton with east coast finance, a place to prep for a lavish and stable banking career. Karl Ulrich is working to change that impression – and his efforts have helped turn Wharton into an entrepreneurial powerhouse.

You won’t find Ulrich in Philadelphia much though. The vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation, he has set up shop in Wharton’s Bar Area campus, where the goal is expose students to the rigors and rewards of entrepreneurship. Even more, the campus connects MBA students with over 7.000 Wharton, while also providing the flexibility for internships so students. In other words, it offers a built-in network to start, not to mention hands-on experience so students can decide if entrepreneurship is truly right for them.

“People read about Silicon Valley and San Francisco, but being there is different,” Ulrich told P&Q in 2017. “The majority of students who participate in the Semester in San Francisco have an eventual desire to either work in the Bay Area ecosystem or just somehow be connected through either venture capital or partnerships with players in Silicon Valley. For them to be on the ground there provides valuable opportunities to engage with the ecosystem before they decide where they’re going to end up on a full-time basis when they leave school.”

However, Ulrich is careful to note that the Semester in San Francisco isn’t just for future founders. He argues that skills like modeling enable Wharton graduates provides a level of versatility that can benefits Series A or B organizations that are looking to professionalize their operations. He adds that the school has also added a similar Beijing center to deepen Wharton’s footprint in Asia. At the same time, he touts Wharton’s size and scope, a key ingredient for entrepreneurs seeking particular industry and functional expertise.

“If you’re interested in something relatively specialized, Wharton would be a very good choice because you’re likely to find 20 other people who have similar interests,” he says.