Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
NYU Stern | Ms. Luxury Retail
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5

MBA Professor Of The Year: Darden’s Lalin Anik

‘LALIN IS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET’

In the classroom, she is patient, caring and kind. She knows her learners and expertly draws on their expertise. She deeply engages students in learning. Her most recent batch of student evaluations for her core class, earning a rating of 5 on a five-point scale last fall, provides a glimpse into how impactful she has been:

“Lalin is one of the most amazing people on this planet. She makes it very clear that she cares about every one of us and that has had a huge positive impact on our section, both in her class and outside of it.”

“She does a spectacular job of challenging all students individually, meeting them where they are to ensure they’re comfortable but still pushing them out of their comfort zone. She cares about all her students and wants to get to know us on a personal level.”

“Lalin is by far my favorite professor I’ve had throughout my academic career. In terms of pure instruction, I think she does a good job of moving conversations further and teasing out ideas, ‘pushing’ students without feeling intimidating. More importantly, I found her to be highly considerate and empathetic. I have been struggling with my experience at Darden on multiple fronts – she made time to meet me outside of class and offered comfort and solid advice to manage stress.”

‘TEACHING IS ABOUT EMPATHY. IT’S SHIFTING YOUR FOCUS FROM YOURSELF TO OTHERS’

What makes Anik unique is her relationships with students. “I think what makes Lalin so special is just her ability to connect with you, not just on a professor to pupil but as a person to person,” says Alexander Gregorio, who is earning both an MBA and law degree at the University of Virginia. “You’re not feeling like you’re talking to someone who’s a subject matter expert, and she is. You’re talking with someone who wants to learn from you as much as you want to learn from her.”

Her philosophy on teaching is inspiring. “I try to teach my students that marketing is about empathy,” she believes. “It’s about empathy with your customer and the same is true of teaching. It’s not only about you. It’s about the other people in the room. How can you contribute to their learning and their experience? How can you make their life better? So it is always shifting your focus from yourself to others.”

It’s an approach that is close to her heart. “There are a lot of brilliant, interesting and hard-working people, but I really value that if all of it comes into a package with kindness, care for others and deep empathy. That is what makes Darden a special place. Those are the students we recruit and that is what we share in and outside the classroom. Those are the leaders we send to the world. Our job at Darden is to mix intellectual rigor and personal experiences with a framing. So they can take those experiences, keep the rigor but still stay human. Without humanity, there are no real issues or answers. Through business, we are trying to solve problems. It’s about making life better. It’s about creating value and capturing it so you can have sustainable businesses.”

Her connections with students are extraordinary, mainly because of the time she so willingly devotes to them outside of class. “I see my students as my family. In the beginning, they are strangers. I walk into the classroom and they are strangers but I already know their names. I have learned a bit about them. I show up the previous week to learn about them. It is a much different experience if I know a little about them. The class becomes alive. I am looking at these faces that are not familiar but I can personalize my teaching by what I know about them. I can ask the right questions of the right people. It’s not one size fits all. It starts there: getting to know them. But as we go from class to class, I am learning with them. And I am guiding them. Yes, I am their professor but there is this interaction that happens. I know that learning them is crucial to opening them up. And if I know them, I believe they will be more interested in knowing each other. So we are building this family, this community within the classroom.”

PLAYING BASKETBALL AND SOCCER WITH STUDENTS

Her office hours are generous. She goes out of her way to attend student events. Twice a week, Anik is playing either basketball or soccer with students. She also competes with them in the annual Darden Cup competition. Anik is known to be a fierce competitor, in part because she swam competitively in Turkey for many years from the age of six as a way to channel her intensity into positive energy.

“Imagine you show up and here we are trying to achieve a goal together. We are literally trying to score. Shoulder to shoulder, we are sweating together, we are moving together. That classroom experience gets translated to achieving something else altogether. Call it collaborating.”

Asked if her involvement in sports with students changes the power dynamic, she concedes that this was a concern in her first year. “I thought that if I showed up at these events, that they would know too much about me and that all the mystique and mystery would be gone in the classroom and it would go flat. But the more I showed up to play with them, I learned that we could learn more naturally together. Our bodies open up and move in relation to our minds. Our bodies will remember that and our minds will be at a different stage in the classroom. We will be more willing to accept risk.”

At the end of the day, Anik hopes that in both her core marketing course and her second-year elective, Deviant Marketing, she is providing students with insights into how humans tick. “My job is not to teach them the right answer but how to think,” she says. “I am teaching them how to think, how to ask the right questions so we can move closer to finding the right answers. I ask a lot of why questions and ask them to go deeper. There is a lot of uncertainty in what we teach. I hope we are preparing them to adapt to those changing environments. It is my job to convince them to follow the path of uncertainty and to know that uncertainly leads to growth.”

DON’T MISS: DEAN OF THE YEAR: IDIE KESNER AT IU’S KELLEY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS or MEET UVA DARDEN’S CLASS OF 2021

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.