The coronavirus pandemic may have slowed hiring at the leading business schools in the United States, but not by much. There were more than 180 new hires in the full-time MBA programs at the top 25 U.S. B-schools in 2020, a slight decline from previous years. Once again, the vast majority are newly minted Ph.D.s, but also once again, many bright stars switched teams.
Among the brightest stars is Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who crossed the campus in May to join the Wharton School as the inaugural recipient of the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang professorship. Duckworth, who maintains her appointment in Penn’s Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology, is a graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and Penn, a MacArthur Fellow, and a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, which is a group of women leaders honored by the governor for their contributions to the Commonwealth. Duckworth is also founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit that uses psychological science to help children thrive, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics, which uses data to “advance how organizations make decisions about people, and help leaders operate based on evidence rather than intuition.”
Duckworth’s CV would take a whole page to summarize, but another of her pursuits is worth mentioning because it forms the foundation of what she’s teaching Wharton MBAs this year. She’s a leading expert on “grit” — the passion and perseverance to accomplish goals. She’s even written a New York Times bestseller about it and conducted a TED Talk on the subject viewed by 20 million.
“I’m thrilled! Duckworth said last month when Wharton announced her appointment to the faculty. “So many Wharton faculty are on the cutting edge of behavioral science.”
NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF 2020 HIRES ARE NEW TO THE CLASSROOM
Wharton’s 20 new hires this year are second to Harvard Business School, which welcomed 28 new professors and instructors into its ranks. Third on the list for new hires in 2020 is Stanford Graduate School of Business with 12, followed by MIT Sloan School of Management with 11 and three schools with 10 new hires each: Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, and Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business.
In all, 181 professors, instructors, lecturers, and other new faces joined the 25 highest-ranked U.S. B-schools this year. That’s down in recent history, but not enough to call it a major hiring slump. In 2016, Poets&Quants counted 143 new profs — from full professors to guest lecturers — at the top 20 schools. In 2017, that number ballooned to 198 at 24 schools. The next year, in 2018, looking at the top 27 schools — including P&Q’s top 25 — there were 277. Among them were 168 whose full-time teaching jobs were the first in their career, or 65%, up from 57% of the previous year’s total. And in 2019, there were 198 total new professors at the top 25 schools, including 135 for whom the new job was also their first job teaching MBAs. That’s 68% of the total — more than two-thirds.
This year, of the 181 new hires (listed on pages 2 to 5), 62% are new to the classroom, whether newly minted Ph.D.s or hailing from the corporate/startup world. Sixty-nine total professors have previous MBA teaching experience; two schools, Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business and USC Marshall School of Business, had no new hires at all this year.
Going school by school, we see that in 2017, Wharton had the most new hires, at 27, and the next year that distinction went to Harvard, which welcomed 33 new faculty, followed by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (23) and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (20). In all, 12 of 27 schools welcomed 10 new faculty or more in 2018. In 2019, however, only one school — Stanford Graduate School of Business, with 24 — hired more than 20 new professors, with NYU’s Stern School of Business and USC’s Marshall School of Business following at 16 apiece, and Chicago Booth notching 13. In all, just eight schools in the top 25 hired 10 or more new faculty. That number shrank to seven schools this year.
In 2018, management profs were the best-represented among all those who relocated: there were 55. That was followed by finance (46), accounting (36), operations (34), marketing (30), strategy (22), tech (13), and entrepreneurship (11). In 2019, management was again the top discipline, with 30 new profs in the field, followed by marketing (24), finance (22), accounting (19), technology (12), operations (8), entrepreneurship (7), and strategy (6). And in 2020, management was the top discipline for new hires with 29, followed by finance (28), economics (23), marketing (20), accounting (15), and eight each in business administration, strategy, and operations. Entrepreneurship accounted for five hires, and tech only three.
Among the most interesting hires: Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, will return to his alma mater MIT as distinguished senior fellow at the Sloan School’s Golub Center for Finance and Policy, and will teach a course in the spring addressing financial regulation. At Harvard Business School, Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy, and Paul McKinnon, former head of human resources at Citigroup, both will teach courses. Stanford GSB, meanwhile, welcomes Prasad Setty, vice president of “people operations” at Google, to teach a management course.
THE POWER & IMPORTANCE OF GRIT
Of all the new faces, only one is the foremost expert in grit. This spring, Angela Duckworth spearheaded a new course called Grit Lab: Fostering Passion and Perseverance for undergraduate students in all four Penn schools. Happy with the course — which was designed to help students find their passion, explore new skills, and develop perseverance — Duckworth is teaching Grit Lab again this fall. As she says in her bestselling book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence.”
Perseverance, she notes, is a vital trait in the coronavirus era.
“There’s a lot we can’t control these days, many reasons to be frustrated, and much to worry about in the near and distant future,” Duckworth says. “Without ignoring reality, gritty individuals tend to focus on what is in their power to change, so I recommend hunting for small ways you can wrest some control and bring order and satisfaction to your life.
“For instance, my husband started making our bed every morning. I started calling my mom every time I go out for a (socially distanced) walk. And both of us think of three things each day for which we’re grateful.”
See there next pages for a complete list of new hires at the top 25 U.S. business schools.