2018 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Thomas Jungbauer, SC Johnson Graduate School of Management

Thomas Jungbauer

Assistant Professor of Strategy and Business Economics

Cornell University, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

At 33 years old and just one year into his job as an MBA professor in Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Thomas Jungbauer has taught classes typically reserved for veteran professors who have been in the teaching profession for great lengths of time and have acquired much teaching experience. Not only has he delivered on such tough assignments, but more have been tossed his way as senior colleagues take note of his innate confidence, his exceptional dedication to students, and a teaching philosophy that hinges on establishing trust with his pupils. Research-wise, Professor Jungbauer is an economist who concerns himself with the design and engineering of markets and platforms. Just two years removed from receiving his PhD, he has already taught at two top business schools. At the Kellogg School of Management, Jungbauer received two teacher appreciation awards during his time pursuing graduate studies there.

Age: 33

At current institution since what year? 2016


PhD, Managerial Economics & Strategy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University 2016

List of courses you currently teach: Business Strategy for Two-year MBA, One-year MBA & the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program.

Twitter handle: @tjungbau


“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when I taught my first review session in Managerial Economics for Executive MBAs during my PhD.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My research mostly concerns the design and engineering of markets and platforms, more specifically matching markets. Matching markets are environments in which representatives from two distinct populations attempt to form pairs. Examples are the matching of budding MBA students with business schools, passengers with airline seats, and patients with donor organs, as well as the allocation of highly skilled employees across companies and research institutions.

It is common knowledge that firms prefer to equally pay newly hired workers at the same level to avoid tension within the workforce and protect themselves from legal repercussions. An argument can be made that by restricting themselves to pay such equal wages, firms potentially miss out on talent. My research argues that this is in general not true in small markets where strategic interaction plays a major role such as labor markets for the highly educated (e.g. entry –level investment bankers, business school professors, surgeons, etc.).   

“If I weren’t a business school professor I would be a physicist, soccer coach or (daydreaming) a professional snooker player (the more sophisticated version of pool).

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I firmly believe that I can learn at least as much from my students as the other way around.

“One word that describes my first time teaching”:


If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be?

AC/DC – It’s a long way to the top

As a b-school professor, what motivates you?

The intellectual curiosity of students

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

How much administrative effort teaching a successful class demands

Professor you most admire and why: Nicola Persico, my PhD thesis advisor. He is beloved by both doctoral students looking for research guidance as well as MBA students craving real business world insights. Likewise, he is one of only a few economists who publish both theoretically and empirically impactful studies.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? The challenge to bridge real business world scenarios and academic theories

What is most challenging?

See above

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?

Unmoved by nostalgia, a former self-employed student immediately shut down his highly successful family business of many years once he realized that its competitive advantage had eroded. Within a year he founded a new venture outperforming his initial endeavor.    

What is the least favorite thing one has done?

I had a student spill coffee over my pants and I still had an hour to go.  

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class?

Industriousness and the ability to formulate logical arguments

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as” 


“But I would describe myself as


Fill in the blank:

“If my students can identify the relevant determinants when making decisions, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”


Fun fact about yourself:

My last name means “Youngfarmer” in English.

What are your hobbies?

Spending time with my daughter and any form of sports (except baseball).

How will you spend your summer?

Mostly working

Favorite place to vacation:

Home (Vienna)

Favorite book:

“The Clown,” by Heinrich Boell

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

“The Simpsons” due to the refreshing simplicity of Homer’s life.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist:

AC/DC, Frank Sinatra and Franz Ferdinand

Bucket list item #1:

At the moment skiing @ Lake Placid


What professional achievement are you most proud of?

Working as a business school professor at a school as awesome as Johnson and at a university as historical as Cornell.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor?

Moderating an informal debate between two groups of students with very different viewpoints on the day after the recent presidential elections.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this”

 In-classroom debates

“And much less of this” 

Recruiting interviews

In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what? Please explain.

Many companies need to improve when it comes to identifying and supporting talent (and creativity). The hiring process in many businesses has not changed or improved over decades despite the availability of vast amounts of data ready to be analyzed to create superior strategies. After the hiring stage the majority of companies still restrict their employees’ creativity to their own detriment.    

Students Say…

“Assistant Professor Jungbauer does his homework before coming to class. He takes time to understand the background and expertise which each student brings to Johnson and strategically utilizes this to enhance the classroom experience. Be prepared to discuss a case because Professor Jungbauer’s cold calls are an intentional and enriching experience.” – Jamal Gorrick, MBA ‘18

“Assistant Professor Jungbauer is one of my favorite professors of all time. His success as a professor stems from his mastery of both his subject and the art of teaching. His classes are completely engaging, and he has perfected the art of making students believe they are contributing something valuable to the discussion.” – William Lyman Riegel, MBA ‘18

“The first thing that struck me about Assistant Professor Jungbauer is his haircut and fashion sense. It was clear from the beginning that he was going to be a different type of professor. Assistant Professor Jungbauer made a point to research students’ backgrounds and asked for diverse opinions in case discussions. He conducted some of the best case discussions I’ve participated in.  He was also available outside of class and I remember having long discussions outside the classroom or over lunch in the cafeteria.” – Preet S. Jassi, MBA, ‘18


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