2019 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Jeremy Ghez, HEC Paris

Jeremy Ghez

Affiliate Professor of Economics and International Affairs

HEC Paris

As with many professors on this year’s list, Jeremy Ghez, a 38-year-old professor of economics and international affairs at HEC Paris goes well beyond showing up to class with lectures and publishing the minimum research. In addition to teaching Managerial Economics in the MBA core, Tools for Change-Makers, and Business Environment, Ghez is serving as the scientific director for Sustainable and Social Innovation master’s program at HEC Paris. He truly uses his Ph.D. in Policy Analysis to focus on how government and policies interact with business and economics.

“Professor Ghez is the teacher who had the highest influence on my post-MBA career,” one nomination said. “Microeconomic dynamics are fundamental to understand market behaviors and as a marketer, it is crucial to understand market performance in order to adapt the most relevant strategy. I use Professor Ghez’s teaching of microeconomics to improve my marketing skills and tactics.”

Ghez says his primary hobby has quickly become playing with his kids, but that he also enjoys a good book or move from time-to-time.

Current Age: 38

At current institution since what year? 2010

Education: Ph.D. in Policy Analysis (Pardee RAND Graduate School), Master’s in Economics (Paris School of Economics) and Master’s in Management (HEC Paris)

List of current MBA courses you currently teach:

  • Managerial Economics (MBA Core);
  • Tools for Change-Makers (Backbone for the Sustainable and Disruptive Innovation Track);
  • Business Environment (EMBA).


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… It dawned on me that I might have an equal or even greater impact interacting with and helping (future) executives from the private sector than working with the policy world. I feel this could be especially true today when it comes to climate change and sustainability.

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

My interest is in political economics, and in particular how business activity and political issues interact with another. I’m particularly struck by what I would call the “Great Backlash,” or the eroding confidence in big business (tech in particular) and in government. It may explain why it seems so hard to get people to change their beliefs about the world and their behavior at a time at which it feels so critical to think and act differently. We expected public opinions to “play along” because they will “definitely” be better off supporting mainstream candidates and voting in favor of the “obvious” option in a referendum – in particular, because they would have everything to lose otherwise, especially if they made more extreme choices. And we are surprised when those same public opinions are stating that, quite to the contrary, they have nothing left to lose from seeing the “mainstream” collapse. Not only is the mainstream not convincing anymore; it is also not reassuring and not the consensus-builder it used to be. These changing attitudes have affected the way the world of politics works. The private sector, and the seemingly all-powerful world of tech may very well be the next on the list unless it transforms the way it does business especially at the social and the sustainable level.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I’m not sure! My mother thinks I’d be a lawyer. My father says I’d definitely be a business owner. In my heart of hearts, I’d like to think I’d be a writer (and my wife agrees).

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

Though I don’t always succeed, I always try to connect with my audience. The class I teach, managerial economics, is not necessarily the most popular class ever in the hearts of MBAs (or of anyone else for that matter). But when I manage to make the field come to life and get my audience to own the material rather than just passively digest it, they see it through a different and far more personal and/or professional light. That’s what an interactive course is to me – and “interactive” can’t just be a buzz word, not this day in age, and not with this generation. But I don’t believe I’ve found the perfect recipe just yet.

One word that describes my first-time teaching: Catastrophe.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: You might worry about repeating yourself, but ultimately, teaching is the art of repetition.

Professor you most admire and why:

Thomas Schelling may have won a Nobel in Economics, but I think his contributions on bargaining power, and on rationality in negotiations may be some of the most underestimated findings for business in the age of popular discontent and a disrupted business environment. We may need to pay more attention to what he had to say about these topics.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

Interacting with a class of individuals who are increasingly looking to have a transformational impact on the business environment they do business in.

What is most challenging?

Meeting a new generation that is quite different in terms of mindset and in terms of outlook than the one I met when I started teaching.

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

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair and generous (though I’m only guessing that some would beg to differ!)


What are your hobbies?

I love to read all kinds of books and to go to the movies. But playing with my kids has become, in recent years, an even more central hobby.

How will you spend your summer?

Still under negotiation with the wife.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: If there’s a beach, good food and a lot of sun, count me in. If there’s something special and unique to visit and to appreciate, then that’s the equivalent of heaven.

Favorite book(s):

The book that taught me empathy: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The book that taught me to be optimistic, this day in age: Age of Discovery, by Ian Golding and Chris Kutarna

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

There are many movies I love but the Back to the Future trilogy definitely stands out. And it is not only because I find the movies entertaining. It is also because they have something to say about progress and transformation. Of course, technology matters as an enabler. But ultimately, it is about our free will and what we do with it. The moment we accept that nothing is predetermined is the moment when our range of options to be impactful suddenly becomes far wider.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: A mix of Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Louis Armstrong; and a pinch of Billy Joel, Ram Jam, Maroon Five, Seal and Freddy Mercury.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… The business school’s first mission will always be to provide its participants with the means to master the basics of business. But in my opinion, it will also need to be an ever-more customized place that empowers participants to make an impact and to bring change to the business environment they are in. We try to achieve this by helping participants find meaning in what we teach and own and transform the material in the professional field they choose. But I also think that coming revolutions in EdTech will develop in an exponential way the means we have to achieve customization. This is a wave of change I certainly won’t ignore as a result. And I do hope that someday, the motto of business schools might just be “Make an Impact!”

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

Understanding the environment in which they’re doing business far more. Many know that they are obviously never taking a decision in political, economic, social, technological or environmental vacuum. But they often see those dimensions as constraints they must live with. Instead, they could think of these as realities that they can shape, improve and even leverage – not because they want to be altruistic or work for the greater good, but because if they do build a more sustainable environment, they, along with a wide range of stakeholders, could benefit from it. The “Great Backlash” is not their destiny – unless they start believing it is.

Faculty and administrators say:

“Through his competence, his passion and his love for teaching, Jeremy managed to transform what most participants assume to be a hard and dry subject (microeconomics) into one of the most fascinating, engaging and eye-opening courses of our program. Furthermore, by designing and coordinating our sustainability specialization, he successfully demonstrates that business education plays a key role in helping future leaders have a positive impact on our society. We are extremely fortunate to have Jeremy among our faculty and we count on him to keep developing our program.” – Andrea Masini- Associate Dean MBA programs

“Pr. Ghez is the teacher who had the highest influence on ma post-MBA career. Microeconomic dynamics are fundamental to understand market behaviors. as a marketer, it is crucial to understand market performance in order to adapt the most relevant strategy. I use Pr. Ghez teaching of microeconomics to improve my marketing skills and tactics. On a more soft skills note, he helped me achieve my transformation towards a marketing centered career and I a grateful for it. Since graduation Pr.Ghez developed a strong presence in local media, especially TV as a geopolitical expert. It is notable that he is consdered as French expert for American-related geopolitics and french internal domestic affairs. He contributes on France 24, BTFTV as a regular expert. As a last note, I want to say that Professor Ghez is always available to provide feedback on business situation and/or entrepreneurial endeavors.”

“Jeremy has been instrumental to my MBA experience. He pioneered the introduction of the sustainability specialization in HEC’s programme, a move I believe is crucial both for the institution and for those of us that have followed this track. In the changing world we live in, it is fundamental for the managers of tomorrow to understand the impact business has on the wider society. Acknowledging this speaks to Jeremy’s inquisitive and forward-looking mindset. In class, Professor Ghez is very effective at making theoretical teachings relatable to the challenges and opportunities that businesses face in their day to day operations. His lessons benefit from his deep understanding of geopolitics, a fact that spurs healthy class debate and enriches the student experience. Jeremy is the kind of teacher that is always keen to lend a hand, the one that you feel you will be able to call up in ten years time!”


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