2020 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Vamsi Kanuri, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business

Vamsi Kanuri of the University of Notre Dame is a Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professor

There are few other professors on this year’s Best 40 Under 40 Professors list that hit such a strong balance of research and teaching expertise than Vamsi Kanuri of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. With more than 300 Google Scholar citations, the 34-year-old Kanuri has built a strong early research base with practical consequence. A marketing analytics professor, his research has been featured in major media outlets like The Financial Times, Inc, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, among many others. But Kanuri also received many thoughtful nominations backing his impact in the classroom.

“Dr. Vamsi Kanuri is both an incredible researcher and teacher,” is how one former student put it. “I took Dr. Kanuri’s MBA Marketing Analytics course. The course was challenging, and Dr. Kanuri translated and relayed the material in ways that were easy to comprehend. I can speak for my entire class when I say that the course was incredibly worthwhile and impactful. As a Ph.D. student, I have had the opportunity to attend marketing academic conferences. I recently went to a conference session Dr. Kanuri chaired. I was so impressed. Dr. Kanuri’s research is both cutting edge and managerially relevant, and the field has immense respect for him as a scholar. His research is highly recognized in the field and he has published numerous articles in the top marketing journals. His research has also been featured on Harvard Business Review. In addition to his scholarship, Dr. Kanuri is an incredible mentor. He was always happy to open his doors and provide great advice to students about current issues and future plans.”

Said another: “Kanuri is a very engaged professor who excels in the classroom. I have worked in Product Marketing for the past four years, but always felt that I learned something new in each of Kanuri’s Marketing Analytics class sessions. In class, he would present theory first then work with students to analyze a real-world datasets. After finishing this course, I feel ready to tackle complex marketing analytics challenges in my future workplace. Professor Kanuri is also involved in student-sponsored events and is participating in a marketing technical training series hosted by the Mendoza marketing club.”

Outside of the classroom, Kanuri says he spends his time with family and reading and running.

Vamsi K. Kanuri

Assistant Professor of Marketing

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business

Current age: 34

At current institution since what year? 2018

Education:

  • D. in Marketing from the University of Missouri (2015)
  • MBA from the University of Missouri
  • Bachelors in Technology (Computer Science) from JNTU (Hyderabad), India

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Marketing Analytics

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I learned about the intellectual freedom that the profession offers. During my MBA studies, several faculty took the time to educate me about the research side of the business discipline and how I could use my coding skills to solve challenging business problems. Those conversations piqued my interest and ultimately led me to choose academia as a career path.

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

Broadly speaking, my research uses econometric, optimization, and machine learning techniques to help organizations make better marketing decisions. I am frequently amazed by how certain marketing efforts, which organizations have always believed will deliver positive outcomes, lead to unintended consequences. For instance, in a recent research project, my co-author and I found that while companies may offer price-based recovery incentives to remedy a service failure, such remedies can lower subscribers’ reference price for the service and thereby hurt the likelihood they renew their contracts at the full price.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would probably be an entrepreneur.

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

Perhaps my conscious efforts to learn and mitigate barriers to learning. The math behind marketing analytics can be intimidating. So, I spend significant time learning about students’ backgrounds, strengths, and interests, and tailoring my lectures to help all of my students better understand and appreciate marketing analytics.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Satisfying

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I must say I have not had too many surprises so far. Thanks to my mentors and colleagues.

Professor I most admire and why: I have had the good fortune of learning from several top-notch professors. I admire all of them for their distinctive abilities. If I have to single out one of them, though, it would be my advisor, Dr. Murali Mantrala, for his relentless passion for conducting rigorous and meaningful research, humility and positive attitude.

STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

I truly enjoy seeing students light up with the excitement of learning! Analytics is a challenging course to teach as well as to learn. So, I derive a palpable sense of fulfillment when I see light bulbs go off in my students’ eyes. I also think the task of helping every student learn and appreciate marketing analytics in a short period of time without foregoing the rigor is akin to solving a complex optimization problem, which makes teaching fun and interesting to me!

What is most challenging?

Solving the optimization problem (in my opinion it is an NP-hard problem)!

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Disengaged

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Thoughtful and fair

LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies? 

Spending time with my family, reading, and running

How will you spend your summer?

I was planning on traveling. But with the COVID-19 situation, I think I will stay put in South Bend, enjoy the antics of my toddler along with my wife and catch up on research projects.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Anywhere with mountains.

Favorite book(s): The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz,

Catalyst Code by David Evans and Richard Schmalensee

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

My interests are pretty eclectic. I enjoy watching comedy, action/ thriller, food and home improvement shows. They are all captivating and help me take my mind off work.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

Classical instrumental music. I find it very relaxing.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Add more experiential courses that involve analyzing real-world data to make better decisions. In addition, the recent pandemic has also made me realize that we can do more in terms of preparing students to better cope with disruptions; be it due to new technologies or crises (both organizational and societal). Even the most sophisticated tech may not rescue a firm facing a crisis that it has never encountered before. Also, the rate at which technology is advancing requires firms to “unlearn” and “learn” at a much faster pace. We need managers that can think on their feet, respond quickly to situations where there is limited data and make effective decisions under uncertainty, flux and even, chaos. I believe business schools are well positioned and equipped to produce such managers.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… failing fast so they can quickly learn what will work.

I’m grateful for… the unwavering support of my family and all of the opportunities, experiences, and friendships that have helped me to become who I am today. I am truly blessed!

Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:

“There are so many great things about Vamsi’s Marketing Analytics class. This is probably the best course I’ve taken at Mendoza. Vamsi cares most about us learning and understanding the material, and the course design reflects that. He covers topics that are practical to the real world, and he teaches us techniques we can use to solve problems in the real world, all the way down to teaching us new excel formulas to make our computations more efficient. I haven’t had a professor who is better at facilitating discussion than Vamsi. I love that he constantly probes us to explain why and think about why certain approaches to a problem make sense. It’s very clear that he is passionate about marketing and analytics and that he is talented in this area. Overall, he’s a great lecturer, great facilitator of discussion, the course structure (cases, lecture, in class exercises) provide the perfect mix of activities to make the class engaging and fun, and he’s responsive and helpful outside of class.”

“Prof Kanuri did a fantastic job. I felt it was an excellent survey of highly relevant and practical topics in marketing. In each lecture, I felt I came away with something I might very well use in my work in the near future. It’s a difficult trick to find the right balance between theory and application, and Prof Kanuri did it very well in this class.  Beyond organizing a great class, Prof Kanuri demonstrated a real interest in students and their engagement in the course. He clearly has a passion for teaching, and it comes through each day.  Further, Prof Kanuri encourages his students to think creatively about the topics we cover in class. He doesn’t limit his expectations to what he’s covered on slides. This allows us to think critically about extensions of what we’ve covered.”

“Prof. Kanuri is passionate and knowledgeable! He seems genuinely interested in the students and their learning journey.”

“Prof. Kanuri is a great teacher. A keeper for sure. Easy to talk to. Very knowledgeable.”

“Prof. Kanuri is very enthusiastic and genuinely wants to deliver an excellent course.”

“Prof. Kanuri cares a lot about his student and their future. That is a rare and beautiful thing that I hope ND cherishes. His passion for the subject, and vast knowledge of the subject is wonderful”

“Prof. Kanuri is an excellent professor.  I really loved the content of his course. We covered a wide array of topics that I believe are all helpful to my future career. Professor Kanuri is very skilled at engaging the class.  He very visibly and tangibly cares that his students learn the material.”

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE 2020 LIST OF THE WORLD’S BEST 40-UNDER-40 BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSORS

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