Shrihari (Hari) Sridhar
Associate Professor of Marketing and Center for Executive Development Professor of Marketing
Since joining Texas A&M Mays Business School in 2016, students and faculty can’t stop buzzing about the innovator and trailblazer that is Hari Sridhar. Nomination after nomination tell the story of a legend-in-the-making whose contributions to the field of marketing and a deep love for teaching combine to make him one of the most admired professors in the business school.
Sridhar is a notable contributor to the field of marketing as he focuses his research on firms’ marketing spending and whether or not it pays off strategically. “I am consistently surprised by the ineffectiveness of firms’ strategic prioritization and marketing resource allocation—and this serves as a constant source of motivation for my research,” Sridhar says. A book he co-authored, Marketing Strategy: Based on First Principles and Data Analytics, is currently being used in several top business schools. Likewise, the marketing community has recognized him with an MSI Young Scholar recognition and the American Marketing Association Varadarajan Award. For the latter, he was the youngest and the only then-untenured faculty to date to receive this recognition, underscoring his early career contributions to marketing strategy research.
Prior to Mays Business School, Sridhar taught marketing at Michigan State’s Broad College of Business followed by Penn State’s Smeal College of Business. There, he was recognized as “Best All-Round MBA Teacher” and received several other teaching excellence awards.
At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: PhD Marketing, University of Missouri, 2009
List of courses you currently teach: Marketing Analytics, Marketing Strategy
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR
“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” : When I took my first ever job as a field marketing research rep, and realized that there’s more unsolved problems than answers.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?: I study how firms allocate resources towards their strategic priorities and whether and when these allocations pay off. I am consistently surprised by the ineffectiveness of firms’ strategic prioritization and marketing resource allocation—and this serves as a constant source of motivation for my research.
“If I weren’t a business school professor…” I would be a screenwriter for comedy movies, following in the footsteps of the famous Indian screenwriter Crazy Mohan.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Possibly my energy level. I deeply love my job (research or teaching) and I make no qualms about making it known.
“One word that describes my first time teaching”:
If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be?:
Pharrell Williams – Happy
As a b-school professor, what motivates you?:
The idea that we have the ability to learn about and influence firm’s strategy and execution with our ideas and solutions.
“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor”:
Where you think you will end up is not always where you actually end up.
Professor you most admire and why:
Andy Zoltners, for showing the world that professors can also be great business leaders, and Murali Mantrala (my advisor) for taking a chance with me.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?:
The joy and excitement in their eyes when they see that they can actually go back to their company with some useful knowledge on how to implement something new.
What is most challenging?:
When students want a shortcut to success.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student:
Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student:
What is the most impressive thing one of your students has done?:
One of my students actually took my class notes to heart and launched a new line of successful products.
What is the least favorite thing one has done?:
A student never showed up to class through the semester.
What does a student need to do to get an A in your class?
Show efforts to internalize the ideas, and accept that there are multiple ways to creative practical impact on business.
“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …”:
What you see is what you get.
“But I would describe myself as …”
Fill in the blank:
“If my students can use the learning and implement in practice, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Fun fact about yourself:
I was a terribly behaved adolescent; I bet that 80% (maybe even 90%) of my high school classmates will be surprised that I turned out to be a professor!
What are your hobbies?:
Running, movies, cricket, eating (if that counts)
How will you spend your summer?:
Going to my son’s swim meets with my wife, mini-vacations, and work.
Favorite place to vacation:
Disconnected from the Internet — anywhere.
“The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdős and the Search for Mathematical Truth”. Not so much for the math, but the idea that Paul Erdős was so focused and persistent.
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?:
My Cousin Vinny and Michael Madana Kama Rajan (an Indian movie) —they just make me feel happier every time I see them
Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist:
Oldies, slow, poignant music.
Bucket list item #1:
Write a screenplay for a movie.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTION
What professional achievement are you most proud of?:
Rajan Varadarajan Award for Early Career Contributions to Marketing Strategy.
What is your most memorable moment as a professor?:
When I hooded my first PhD student.
“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…”:
Courses which allow students and firms to team up for 16 weeks to result in tangible value for both parties.
“And much less of this…” :
Committees, conference calls, or both.
In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what? Please explain.
Firms spend billions of dollars on a variety of strategic activities that they think are profitable. But if you ask customers, they don’t seem to be satisfied with most firms’ efforts. Firms don’t seem to have a good way of measuring and managing their initiatives (whether strategic or tactical) to determine if in fact they make customers happy (and firms profitable). We need more theoretical approaches, empirical tools and case studies to collectively reduce this wasteful spending crisis.
Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you:
A more equitable health-family-work balance, and when my student wins this award!
“As a second year MBA student, I dealt with many professors and I’d like to admit that Professor Sridhar’s teaching style is significantly different and oriented on quality rather than quantity. During “Marketing Engineering” class, Prof. Sridhar focused on four fundamental concepts and rather than giving purely theoretical material, he emphasized application of the marketing principles and ability of students to use statistical software to build marketing models. A distinctive feature of his classes was that he ensured that every student was able to use software for building marketing models. Overall, Professor Sridhar is the professor who builds real skills so much needed for successful post-MBA career.”
“He’s been a real innovator since his arrival at Texas A&M, bringing analytics to an aging but nationally ranked business school. He’s been something of a keystone species when it comes to analytics in the marketing department. Before his arrival we averaged 3 graduates in analytical roles. This December we had 8 students (out of 17) in analytic roles ranging from Deloitte to JCPenney to HP Inc. I think every student has one really impactful professor. Hari is that for me an many of my classmates. Brilliant through and through.”
“Hari is a truly exceptional teacher. Over the course of a semester, he helped us synthesize complex marketing analysis techniques. The business world is in transition of shifting to easy use of big data. Hari taught us initiative ways to tap into the insights that are being generated by large scale data capture. He was able to bring in real-world examples through marketing firms that he works closely with and his own personal consulting experience.”