Poets&Quants’ Best 40-Under-40 Business School Professors Of 2021

As a first-generation college student, Sandra Matz had no intention of pursuing a Ph.D., much less becoming a professor. Then she went to college and earned a life-changing scholarship.

“When I got a scholarship to spend a year at Cambridge University during my undergraduate degree, I fell in love with research and the question of how we might be able to better understand people’s daily experiences through the lens of big data,” Matz, 32, says.

Matz eventually returned to school to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology; during her studies, a friend mentioned applying for marketing positions at universities, rather than jobs in their psychology departments. Interest piqued, Matz did the same, applying to Columbia Business School.

She got the job.


“Going through the application process and learning more about the world of B-schools made me realize that they offered exactly what I was looking for: an intellectual home that values not just grand ideas and theoretical contributions but also real impact and a discussion of how to tackle current societal challenges,” Matz says. “And I honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better place than CBS.

“Looking back now, it feels almost unreal how beautifully everything worked out. I found a job that I absolutely love, a city that I adore, and the most wonderful set of colleagues I could imagine.”

Sandra Matz, who teaches Managerial Negotiations and Lead: People, Teams and Organizations to MBA students at Columbia, is one of 40 business school professors under the age of 40 to be recognized as this year’s Poets&Quants Best 40-Under-40 Business School Professors.

Sandra Matz of Columbia Business School is a Poets&Quants Best 40 Under 40 Business School Professor for 2021. Courtesy photo


Now in its ninth year, the goal of this annual recognition remains the same: to identify the most talented young professors currently teaching in MBA programs around the world.

This year our professors come from 12 schools outside of the United States and 21 schools based in the U.S. Some six schools — Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, NYU Stern, Wharton, and the Yale School of Management — placed two professors each on this year’s list. There are 15 women on this year’s list, up from a dozen last year, but still down from the record 16 two years ago.

This year we received more than 2,200 nominations for nearly 150 professors. That’s right on par with last year’s numbers when just over 2,000 nominations poured in with about 160 professors to evaluate. Once we close the nomination period, our editorial staff evaluates each nomination and professor on teaching, which is given a 70% weight and research, which is given the remaining 30% weight.

For teaching, we consider the nominations received — both quality and quantity. For example, if we receive a hundred or more nominations for a professor but there’s little substance to the nominations, they’re probably not as likely to score as high as the professor that receives a dozen in-depth and thoughtful nominations. We also consider any teaching-related awards the professors have won.

For research, we look at the volume and impact of the professor’s scholarly work. To do this we examine Google Citation numbers as well as major media attention received by the professor and his or her research work. Lastly, akin to teaching, we consider research awards and grants the professors has received. As the list has gotten increasingly competitive over the years, we’ve started also considering the topics of research. For example, if the research goes beyond the traditional and into societal, environmental, or policy issues, those professors usually receive higher scores.

Once the professors are scored, we review the Top 60 and consult each editorial staff member before finalizing our Top 40.

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