2018 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Omri Even-Tov, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Omri Even-Tov

Assistant Professor

University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business

To say Omri Even-Tov has taken to teaching would be an understatement. In just his second year as a full-time professor, the Israeli-born wunderkind took home the MBA program’s highest teaching award, which is given based on a survey of students. What’s his secret? For one, he personifies Haas’ values. More than that, he quickly and deeply connects with students.

“Omri is an exceptionally inspiring professor who truly embodies the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles,” writes Susanne Schöneberg (’17).He questions the status quo of accounting classes by gamifying his lectures. Omri’s (true!) stories are so engaging that it’s impossible to not remember the knowledge that he is teaching. He also truly cares about his students outside the classroom by constantly sharing his successes as an entrepreneur and encouraging students to put their ideas into action. To me, Omri is not only my professor but a career advisor, startup mentor, the best pun generator and a role model!”

She failed to mention that he is a bona fide TV producer too! Teaming up with his brother, Even-Tov has developed 15 television program that have been viewed in 40 nations worldwide. Oh…and whatever you do, don’t try to bluff him either. He is a master at Texas Hold‘em.  Maybe that is because he is a keen observer who considers the fundamentals of accounting to be only one column in the grading ledger.

“Be a well-rounded student,” he urges. “Knowing accounting is not enough. In my class, I pay attention to everything: from coming prepared, to contributing to the class discussions, to being kind and helpful to fellow classmates, and more.”

Age: 35

At current institution since what year? 2015

Education: (title of degree, area of study, institution and year obtained)

PhD, Accounting, UCLA, June 2015

BA, Accounting; BS, Economics, Tel Aviv University, June 2010

List of courses you currently teach:

Financial Accounting

Extreme Leadership

Doctoral Seminar in Accounting

Twitter handle: N/A

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…I’m still not sure how I got here. I actually went to UCLA to get an MBA and was on my way to becoming Warren Buffett’s successor when I was offered admission to the PhD program and then one thing led to another.”

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

I study issues related to the information content of corporate debt, credit ratings, and mergers and acquisitions.Additionally, in one of my papers, my co-authors and I developed a firm-specific measure of investor sentiment.

“If I weren’t a business school professor…I would be an entrepreneur.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? The first is my height: I’m 6’5’’.  The second is my Israeli accent and my inability to pronounce difficult names in English.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Showtime!

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be?
U2’s “Beautiful Day”

As a b-school professor, what motivates you? I really enjoy both research and teaching, so motivation is never an issue.

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor”: N/A

Professor you most admire and why: Professor David Aboody and Professor Brett Trueman.  After reading “Tuesdays with Morrie,” I always wished I had my own Morrie.  Today, I’m glad to say I have two Morries.

STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?  That they are eager to not only learn the material, but also to grow and develop as people. The understanding that they can become better people and better leaders at the same time is key to their growth in business school.

What is most challenging?

Students who don’t understand my sense of humor.

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student:

Resilient

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student:

Disengaged

What is the most impressive thing one of your students has done? Two of my students did an independent study with me about cryptocurrency and shortly after the semester was over, they managed to start a profitable firm in this field.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? In general, lack of responsiveness or follow-through are my biggest pet peeves with students.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Be a well-rounded student.  Knowing accounting is not enough. In my class, I pay attention to everything: from coming prepared, to contributing to the class discussions, to being kind and helpful to fellow classmates, and more.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…Fair, I hope.”

“But I would describe myself as…Fairness is what I aspire to in grading.”

Fill in the blank: “If my students can constructively examine business decisions for their financial and social impact, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Fun fact about yourself: My brother and I develop television formats together (mainly game-shows) and our shows have aired in over 40 countries around the world.

What are your hobbies? Basketball (playing and watching), Texas Hold’em with friends, and reading.

How will you spend your summer? Teaching basketball to my newborn son who will be three months old then.

Favorite place to vacation: My home town of Tel Aviv.

Favorite book: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss.  It’s not only a great book to develop business skills, but also emphasizes the importance of empathy in our daily lives.

What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Seinfeld, because it is so clever.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Coldplay

Bucket list item #1: Take a few months off and travel around the world with my family.  

THOUGHTS OF REFLECTION

What professional achievement are you most proud of? My volunteer work. 

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? Climbing to the summit of Cerro El Plomo, a 17,800 foot peak in the Andes (Chile), with my Extreme Leadership class.

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Emphasis on teaching soft skills, so that students can become better people and better leaders.

And much less of this…Unnecessary mass emails.

In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what? Please explain – Developing people’s soft skills.  I think that people today have a hard time handling tough situations. We’re all becoming more sensitive and we find it difficult to give or receive constructive criticism.  This impairs our ability to improve and grow as individuals. We need to do something about this.

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would look like for you:  In addition to hopefully positively affecting many more students, I think success for me would be to have a bigger social impact.  I feel that I have been blessed in life and that I want to do much more to help those less fortunate.

Students say…

“Omri goes above and beyond to ensure students really understand the material. He spent a considerable amount of time meeting one-on-one with me to discuss how the course material applied to my specific industry.”

Omri brings the course to life by using real-world examples from his many entrepreneurial pursuits. This personal touch highlights the importance of the course material and makes the class relatable.

Omri cares a great deal about the learning experience. He works hard to make the course relatable, fun, and interesting – he uses humor to keep students engaged and has a gift for comm,unicating technical details in a way that is easy to comprehend.”
Sean Swift (’18)

“What impressed me most about Omri is the unique amount of effort and concern he puts into making his class engaging and customized for each student’s interests and learning styles. He incorporates different teaching methods, including step-by-step walkthroughs, case studies, topical games, news discussions, and real-life simulations. He takes painstaking effort to update his material each year to make it relevant to issues going on at that moment, and he makes sure his material is aligned with the different interests in the class (e.g. healthcare, nonprofits). When students fall behind, Omri is proactive about reaching out to set up times to individually tutor them.”
Taylor Smith (’18)

“Omri’s classes are always very engaging and entertaining. He has a very special dedication to making sure that everyone has a good time. He managed to turn a core MBA accounting class into one that I look forward to attending at 9 am, two days a week!

In class, he drew examples from his past ventures to bring accounting to life.

The amount of care and effort he puts in with the students is very inspiring. Omri sets a great example for injecting fun into the classroom without jeopardizing learning.”
Lori Hung (’18)

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