Of course, there is more to life than research and teaching business. And many of this year’s best young profs have passions that go beyond the walls of the business school. For example, if Lucile Faurel, an associate professor of accounting at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, says if she wasn’t a business school professor she’d be a ski instructor — though Faurel, 39, says she would offset the meager ski bum income working as a consultant. Not surprisingly, Faurel’s favorite activities outside of the classroom include skiing, hiking, and spending time with her three kids.
For Luca Cian, an Italian-born assistant professor of marketing at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, his original dream was to become a painter, something he still loves but admits he’s “not artistically gifted.” Before realizing his career as a B-school professor, Cian also says becoming a mix of a psychologist and cultural anthropologist after reading the works of Carl Jung and Claude Lévi-Strauss in college. Outside of the classroom, Cian says his favorite hobbies are driving fast on hilly roads, watching movies, landscaping his yard, and checking out local breweries and wineries with his friends.
Lauren D’Innocenzo, an assistant professor of management at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business has a passion and background in team sports, particularly, softball, which she coached before pursuing a career in business education. “I’ve always questioned why and how people behave the way they do,” D’Innocenzo said. “Being a part of team sports my whole life, I found the dynamics within teams fascinating and observed that team performance is much more than a combination of individual skills. Before academics, I coached collegiate softball and my curiosity to understand teamwork grew even more. I started looking into academic programs to satisfy this curiosity and talked with people in the field. Once I learned that getting my Ph.D. would allow me to study teamwork in applied settings and offered opportunities to share best practices, I was sold.”
HOW THE TOP PROFS WOULD CHANGE B-SCHOOLS AND HOW ORGANIZATIONS OPERATE
Not surprisingly, many of the top profs have ideas on just how they’d change how business education — and business around the world — is conducted. Much of that change comes from the desire to create a long-lasting impact beyond bottom lines and traditional business. “The business school’s first mission will always be to provide its participants with the means to master the basics of business,” says Jeremy Ghez, a professor of economics and international affairs at HEC Paris and one of 11 professors from schools outside of the U.S to make our annual 40 Under 40 list, down from 17 last year. “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.”
As for companies and organizations, Ghez says he’d like to see a shift in mindset from seeing worldly aspects as constraints to opportunities in which they can leverage.
“Many (businesses) know that they are obviously never taking a decision in a political, economic, social, technological or environmental vacuum,” the 38-year-old says. “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.”
B-SCHOOLS SHOULD INCLUDE MORE CODING AND EMPATHY, TOP PROFS SAY
As for Ho-Yin Mak, a 37-year-old associate professor of management science at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, the change he’d like to see in business education is less idealistic and more pragmatic to the changing times of our world and industry. He’d like to see more coding. “Machines are taking over many aspects of our future economy,” Mak says. “Human-machine communication skills (coding) will become as important as the human-human communication and interpersonal skills that all MBA programs emphasize today.”
However, in terms of what companies should be striving for, Mak says a common good should be the ultimate goal and outcome.
“At understanding that business, as complex as it is, should be an incentive system to make people and organizations work together toward the common good,” Mak says. “In the past, this used to mean simply ‘producing and consuming more as an economy.’ Now our understanding of the common good is much broader and covers issues like social and environmental sustainability, racial and gender equality, human rights, etc., and we need to adapt our perception of business accordingly.”
In a bit of a stark contrast from coding, Emily David, an assistant professor of management at CEIBS in Shanghai, China, says she’d like to see more cooperation, empathy, and diversity in business education. In terms of what business should be doing differently, David generally agrees with Mak that businesses solely focused on a “better-looking bottom line” are not sustainable.
“Providing more individualized and tailored support to employees. In one research project, we’ve shown that women expatriates need specific support from organizations to impact their attitudes,” David, 34, says. “From my personal experience, I also think that organizations should do more to challenge high-potential employees with new and lateral assignments even in the context of dual-career constraints that limit geographic mobility. In general, I think that it is never sustainable for organizations to shortchange employee needs in favor of a better-looking bottom line.”
(SEE THE NEXT PAGE FOR A TABLE OF ALL TOP 40 UNDER 40 PROFS WITH LINKS TO INDIVIDUAL PROFILES.)