Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Impactful Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 7.95/10 (College follows relative grading; Avg. estimate around 7-7.3)
Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Former SEC Athlete
GMAT 620, GPA 3.8
Tuck | Mr. Army To MBB
GMAT 740, GPA 2.97
Columbia | Mr. Forbes 30 Under 30
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB Advanced Analytics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Banker To CPG Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 7.36/10
Ross | Mr. Leading-Edge Family Business
GMAT 740, GPA 2.89
Darden | Mr. Logistics Guy
GRE Not taken Yet, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Desi Boy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Stylist & Actor
GMAT 760 , GPA 9.5
Columbia | Mr. Ambitious Chemical Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Irish Biotech Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Cricketer Turned Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 7.15/10
Wharton | Mr. Planes And Laws
GRE 328, GPA 3.8
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Refrad
GMAT 700, GPA 3.94
Harvard | Mr. Supply Chain Photographer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Ms. Product Strategist
GMAT 700, GPA 7.3/10
Columbia | Mr. MBB Consultant
GRE 339, GPA 8.28
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Avocado Farmer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.08
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. International Development Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.9

2021 Best 40-Under-40 Professors: Matt Notowidigdo, University of Chicago (Booth)

Matt Notowidigdo of the Chicago Booth School of Business is a 2021 Best 40 Under 40 Business School Professor. Courtesy photo

Matt Notowidigdo

Professor of Economics

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

For many professors on this year’s list of the world’s best 40 Under 40 business school professors, we’re impressed by their research portfolio and impact as well as the effectiveness of their teaching and ability to mentor business school students. Others notch all of those requirements and go beyond them. That’s Matt Notowidigdo of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Yeah, we were impressed by the nominations we received on his behalf. And his nearly 5,000 Google Scholar citations and the major media attention that’s come along with it.

But we were very impressed by his work in health economics and the health initiative at Chicago Booth. Notowidigdo is the founding faculty Co-Director of the Booth Healthcare Initiative and Co-Director of Becker Freidman Institute’s Health Economics Initiative at the University of Chicago.

If Notowidigdo had his way, he says the business school of the future would: “Make it easier (and less financially costly) to combine an MBA with other advanced degrees (such as MDs). I’m currently the co-director of a new healthcare initiative at Booth, and I hope to have more MD-MBA students in my classroom over the next 5-10 years. I think that future doctors can benefit a lot from having business training alongside their medical training.”

Current age: 39

At current institution since what year? At Booth since July 2020, and previously at Booth July 2010 through 2014

Education: MIT Economics Ph.D., 2010

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Healthcare Economics (previously taught Microeconomics)

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…

I attended the University of Chicago Price Theory Summer Camp back in 2008, and several Booth faculty members gave memorable lectures and presentations. After that, being a professor at Booth became my “dream job”.

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

Unfortunately, my research was disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current projects I’m most excited about grew out of close partnerships with state governments, and the states have had a million other things to worry about besides my data requests.

So instead I’ll talk about a paper that was recently accepted for publication studying consumer bankruptcy. My co-authors and I studied the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which made filing for bankruptcy more expensive and less financially beneficial to consumers. Our main finding is that consumers benefited from lower credit-card interest rates caused by the reform, as firms – perhaps unsurprisingly – passed on some of the cost savings from lower bankruptcy rates to consumers. The flipside of this is that filing for bankruptcy is now much more of an ordeal for consumers, which makes it harder for households to get a “fresh start” after an adverse shock like a severe illness or injury.

If I weren’t a business school professor… My (older) co-author Craig Garthwaite (who I think was on this list a few years ago) would probably say I would have been a lawyer or judge. I always wanted to go to law school, and I used to dream of being a Supreme Court clerk. I was planning to do a JD-PhD, but my advisors in graduate school talked me out of it. Even today I try to read Supreme Court opinions the day they come out. I got to serve on a jury a couple of years ago, and I think my enthusiasm got me selected as the jury foreperson.

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

I try to bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy to each class; I can’t expect my students to be interested in the material if I’m not excited about it.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Nervous.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:

Business schools are great places for interdisciplinary work and learning from people in other fields. Universities like to talk a good game when it comes to interdisciplinary work, but it actually happens at business schools. When it comes to hiring new faculty, we don’t need to look in specific disciplines or sub-disciplines – we just hire the people doing the most interesting and creative work. We don’t need to find a “label” for them or put them in a silo. And so I think it’s not a coincidence that my Nobel-prize-winning colleague Dick Thaler got a job offer from Booth decades ago but did not get an offer from a top Economics department. Their loss, for sure!

Professor I most admire and why: My co-author and mentor Kerwin Charles, who is currently Dean at Yale SOM (I like to imagine that he’s “on loan” from UChicago, since I miss him a lot.) Through our research together, Kerwin taught me the value of patience and not sacrificing quality for speed. He insists on really understanding everything before moving forwad. Our papers took many years to publish, but I’m proud of all of them. Another thing I admire about Kerwin is his understated and effective support of minority economists all over the world. Economics as a field is also trying to find ways to increase diversity, and Kerwin shows how to get it done.

TEACHING MBA STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

I enjoy thinking about how to motivate the concepts I’m teaching. I think economics has useful concepts for business students to learn, but it can be tricky to connect the concepts to real business decisions. I love that challenge.

At this point, I have taught undergraduate students, Ph.D. students, and business school students, and I find that business students generally bring the most energy to the classroom. The students come prepared, and they don’t hesitate to speak up. I love that.

What is most challenging?

Finding the right level of technical complexity in my lectures is sometimes challenging because business students have such a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds. It’s also challenging for me to be constantly “code-switching” between talking about economics concepts in a lot of mathematical detail (as I would do in an academic seminar) and then later in the day talking about the same concepts at a more intuitive level, while still being rigorous and clear. It’s a challenge, but I really think it makes me a better economist.

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

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: grade-grubber

LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies?

Golf and video games – thankfully, both are very safe hobbies during the pandemic!

How will you spend your summer?

Hopefully, I’ll be able to return to the projects with state governments that I mentioned above. I’m also planning to write my first book with a longtime co-author on healthcare this summer. And, optimistically, I’m hoping to have a vacation at the end of the summer somewhere outside of the continental US.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Central Italy (Rome, Tuscany)

Favorite book(s): [Fiction] The Road, [Non-Fiction] The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court

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

Inside Out was one of my favorite movies in years. Very creative and memorable portrayals of emotions, including sadness and depression.

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

I’ve always been a fan of electronic music. Great for studying, driving, relaxing at home. I have always liked Stereolab — they belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…

Make it easier (and less financially costly) to combine an MBA with other advanced degrees (such as MDs). I’m currently the co-director of a new healthcare initiative at Booth, and I hope to have more MD-MBA students in my classroom over the next 5-10 years. I think that future doctors can benefit a lot from having business training alongside their medical training.

In my opinion, companies, and organizations today need to do a better job at… Committing to continuous learning from experimentation, ideally using randomized experiments (such as A/B tests). Economics research has been transformed by randomized experiments, and I think companies and organizations have just as much to gain.

I’m grateful for… My health. I know it is probably due at least as much to “good luck” as to “diet and exercise”.

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

“Professor Noto, as he is known, has recently returned to Booth to launch and co-lead Booth’s Health Care Initiative, the center of gravity for the diverse disciplines that engage in healthcare research at Booth. The initiative integrates business and medical points of view on the complex challenges facing the healthcare sector, which is now more important than ever!”

“Professor Notowidigo is a founding faculty Co-Director of the Booth Healthcare Initiative and Co-Director of Becker Freidman Institute’s Health Economics Initiative. Professor Notowidigo’s research focuses on labor and health economics, including the causes and economic consequences of unemployment duration and insurance, as well as the impacts of health and health insurance on labor markets. His work also includes partnerships with several state governments on large-scale randomized experiments of existing social insurance programs. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, and he is a co-editor at American Economic Journal – Economic Policy and an Associate Editor at the Quarterly Journal of Economics. In his first year back at Booth, he has been significantly involved with the community of MBA students focused on healthcare, including giving talks on healthcare economics and moderated healthcare policy discussions for the annual Booth Healthcare Conference.”

“Professor Notowidigo is a founding faculty Co-Director of the Booth Healthcare Initiative and Co-Director of Becker Freidman Institute’s Health Economics Initiative. Professor Notowidigo’s research focuses on labor and health economics, including the causes and economic consequences of unemployment duration and insurance, as well as the impacts of health and health insurance on labor markets. His work also includes partnerships with several state governments on large-scale randomized experiments of existing social insurance programs. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, and he is a co-editor at American Economic Journal – Economic Policy and an Associate Editor at the Quarterly Journal of Economics. In his first year back at Booth, he has been significantly involved with the community of MBA students focused on healthcare, including giving talks on healthcare economics and moderated healthcare policy discussions for the annual Booth Healthcare Conference.”

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