While some of the professors on this year’s Best 40 Under 40 Professors list have strengths in research and publishing and others thrive in the classroom and engaging with students, Marlo Raveendran,was chosen for this year’s list for her ability to thrive doing both. With more than 270 Google Scholar citations, Raveendran already has a solid base of influential published research. And with about two-dozen nominations from students, faculty, alumni, and administrators, she also has strength in the classroom and creating meaningful connections with students.
“Marlo listens to students, makes the topics she teaches interesting and shows she cares about the students,” one nominator said. “(She) makes even the quiet students speak up and participate. She is always fair. Tries to make jokes to make class fun, even for a 8 p.m. class. And she definitely knows her stuff. An expert in her field. Wish I could take her class again.”
Said another recommender: “In the classroom, Dr. Raveendran is an incredibly talented professor. She encourages her students to think critically about strategic management issues, encouraging dialogue, and an exchange of ideas with a heavily Socratic methodology. Her assigned course materials focus on relevant, real-world scenarios happening on a global scale. All these characteristics, together, create an environment where students can develop an interest and passion in Dr. Raveendran’s expertise. She’s doing an outstanding job educating the next generation of graduate business leaders.”
Outside of the classroom, Raveendran says she enjoys playing World of Warcraft with her husband, playing with her son, drinking coffee, and meditating.
Assistant Professor of Management
Current age: 37
At current institution since what year? 2013
Education: Ph.D. in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from London Business School; MSc in International Management from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and ESADE, Barcelona (CEMS dual-degree); BSc in Management from LSE.
List of MBA courses you currently teach: Strategic Management, Corporate Strategy
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I took my first Strategy class in my third year at LSE (BSc). I loved the course and towards the end of it, my professor (and now friend), Tobias Kretschmer, suggested that I work as an RA for him over the summer to see whether I would enjoy being an academic; I worked on a literature review on HRM – and loved it. Since Toby moved country later that year, he put me in touch with a friend of his at LBS, Phanish Puranam, for me to work with as an RA. I did, then joined LBS’s Ph.D. program, Phanish became my thesis advisor, and we continue to be co-authors to this day.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
I study corporate strategy and the micro-foundations of organization design; the way in which organizational structure and design decisions are influenced by the individuals inside the firm. I investigate what impact prior interactions between individuals have on reorganizations, the process of the division of labor, and the design of organizations in light of task interdependence. The most practical discovery I’ve made is just how much our human nature influences organizational decisions: When studying how groups of strangers approach division of labor (i.e. who should do what part of a novel task), we were struck by how quickly they took newly formed group structures as given, even when the task allowed for more efficient choices.
If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be a software developer. In that case, my dream job would be to work for Blizzard.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I teach the core strategy class and the concepts and frameworks are extremely simple. Instead of focusing on the content I try to teach my students to think more analytically and to question what they read and what I say. I’m also extremely nervous every time I start teaching again and tend to over-prepare and include a lot of current examples to make the content relevant.
One word that describes my first time teaching: petrified
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I actually had great advice and was well prepared going into it; however, it is harder said than done to actually follow all the great advice.
Professor I most admire and why: It’s hard to pick just one. Herbert Simon and Jim March for having written almost everything there is to write on organization in the 1950s; Dan Levinthal, Thorbjorn Knudsen, Jerker Denrell, and Hart Posen for writing most of my favorite papers and teaching me, by reading those and through conversations, how to think like a modeler. Massimo Warglien who is the quintessential scholar (be it language development in children, bees and ants, or sequential matching – I believe he knows everything). Carliss Baldwin for translating ideas across fields and for her generosity. If I have to pick just one, it will have to be Phanish Puranam – he is a careful and deep thinker and a prolific researcher; an extremely productive scholar working on deep questions, a very engaged co-author, and one of very few academics I know who gives the same time and attention listening to the ideas of his most senior colleagues and his first-year PhD students.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I love seeing my students’ minds grow: Over the 10 weeks of the course, our conversations deepen and their responses and reasoning become more and more analytical and sophisticated. I love learning, that’s why I became an academic, and to share that process with 100 students is a fantastic experience.
What is most challenging?
My teaching style is very interactive. It’s challenging to manage a large class where half the class is actively participating and the other half is used to just listening to lectures. Over the quarter, most students learn how to join the conversation which is great to see.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: curious
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: checked-out
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… tough
LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies?
Playing with my son, playing World of Warcraft with my husband, drinking coffee, meditating.
How will you spend your summer?
Finishing off a paper for resubmission to a journal and preparing a new online course for our undergrad program.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: London/ home.
Favorite book(s): “Das Glasperlenspiel” by Hermann Hesse; “Treffpunkt im Unendlichen”, by Klaus Mann; “Ficciones” by Jorge Luis Borges; “La Isla Bajo el Mar” by Isabel Allende; “Organizations” by March & Simon; “An Introduction to Models in the Social Sciences” by Lave & March.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
I play World of Warcraft for entertainment. What I love about it is that it is interactive and a shared experience; it is fun because it is challenging, and it is deeply engaging which makes it the perfect “escapism”.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? It really depends on my mood. All-time favorites: Metallica and Tchaikovsky.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Greater connection to industry, more community building, greater diversity and integration.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… stopping the rat race that favors a select few groups of individuals. Research has shown that shorter work weeks and greater diversity can improve the bottom line. We need to rethink the way we organize and structure our firms. The current “natural experiment” of a sudden shift to telecommuting and upending our business practices may spur new ideas and approaches.
I’m grateful for… getting paid for doing what I love the most: learning.
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“I took Professor Raveendran’s Strategic Management class. She not only exemplifies what women in business should aspire to, but she also offers ALL business persons a model of extraordinary professionalism to help shape their own professional decisions. A year after her course, I use much of what I learned from her and her inclusionary discussions daily. A true credit to her field, Marlo Raveendran is Top 40, if not number 1, under 40.”
“Marlo listens to students, makes the topics she teaches interesting, and shows she cares about the students. It makes even the quiet students speak up and participate. She is always fair. Tries to make jokes to make class fun, even for an 8 pm class. And she definitely knows her stuff. An expert in her field. Wish I could take her class again.”
“In the classroom, Dr. Raveendran is an incredibly talented professor. She encourages her students to think critically about strategic management issues, encouraging dialogue and an exchange of ideas with a heavily Socratic methodology. Her assigned course materials focus on relevant, real-world scenarios happening at a global scale. All these characteristics, together, create an environment where students can develop an interest and passion in Dr. Raveendran’s expertise. She’s doing an outstanding job educating the next generation of graduate business leaders.”