Kinda Hachem loved teaching at Chicago Booth. After getting her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Toronto, Hachem spent seven years as an associate professor on the shores of Lake Michigan, and she couldn’t have been happier. “Given the type of research that I do, it was the perfect place,” she tells Poets&Quants. “It was the perfect link between theory, data, and regulatory policy, which given my research interests lined up perfectly. In terms of a research environment, it was phenomenal. The students were also very good.”
Because collaboration between Toronto’s Economics Department and the Rotman School of Management is rare, when Hachem began work in Chicago, she had never even seen an MBA. “I was actually surprised by how fluid the structure was in Chicago, both between the Econ Department and the business school and between groups in the business school,” she says. “In 2012, when I started teaching my first class, that was the first time I saw MBAs. They were all there for a purpose. I may have benefited from the fact that I was teaching an elective, so people who weren’t interested didn’t come and people who were, did. Students were great, faculty was great, resources were great as well.”
So why did she leave for Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she started as an associate professor of business administration this fall?
“To be completely honest, they approached me — I wasn’t on the market,” she says. “I was kind of doing my thing in Chicago. But one of my research interests is China’s financial system, and there’s an Asia Initiative here and I think that’s how Darden got to know a little about me. So they reached out to me, and the thought had never crossed my mind, but when a good school with good people come to you, you explore it. Once I got here, I sort of fell in love with the place. I’ve lived in big cities all my life, but there was something about Charlottesville — Southern hospitality is a real thing. The faculty here is very good, the resources are very good, and the students are great.”
‘IT ALL KIND OF CLICKED’
Hachem was in for another first when she visited Darden for the first time, sitting in on one of the MBA classes. “It was my first time seeing case-based teaching,” she says. “Chicago is truly laissez-faire — you do whatever you want in the classroom and the evaluations will tell you whether or not the students responded to that. So my classroom there was more lecture-based. I saw case-based teaching here and it seemed like a very effective way to teach and a very effective way for the students to learn.”
Hachem began teaching Global Economies and Markets, a course with a long-set curriculum, in October. “I think they’ve been refining it over many, many years,” she says. “It’s giving the students a framework to think about the macro economy — when you hear that taxes are getting cut, or you hear that exchange rates are changing, what does that mean? How do we think about that?” Next year, however, she will design her own “money and banking” elective, focused on how financial crises start and what policy remedies have looked like.
Hachem has learned to embrace change — change of location, change of teaching style, change of curriculum.
“It’s easy to get complacent and get into a routine, get into the grind,” she says. “When I saw Darden I felt like it’s a school that is on the rise. The students are very dedicated and motivated, and that’s something I appreciated from the students at Booth as well — but here, for me, it all kind of clicked.”