THE TOP PROFS COME FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
As can be imagined on a list this global, the professors have very different upbringings and backgrounds. Columbia’s Matz, for example, grew up in Germany and had not lived in the U.S. until taking her job in New York. While it took Matz a little longer to realize academia was her path, Cambridge Judge Business School’s Stella Pachidi knew she wanted to become a professor from a young age.
“I was still a kid,” Pachidi says of when she first wanted to become a professor. “I loved reading stories about academic life and dreamed of becoming an academic myself one day.” As an undergrad, Pachidi says she was inspired most by the professors that went beyond the classroom and had an impact on the personal development of students.
The same goes for Naim Bugra Ozel, who is an associate professor of accounting at the University of Texas at Dallas and is now serving as a visiting professor at The Wharton School. “I grew up in a family of accountants and bankers, and I have always been intrigued by little details that make big differences. So it seems only natural that I gravitated towards being a business school professor,” Ozel says, noting his father started calling him “the professor” in the fifth grade.
Others come from generations of college professors. Brad Greenwood of George Mason University watched his grandfather as a professor from a young age. Likewise, Jasmine Hu, who is an associate professor of management at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business is a third-generation college professor. Even still, when she was younger, she didn’t plan on becoming a professor and went into management consulting after college. But she couldn’t escape the familial pull for too long.
“When I participated in consulting projects, I was always intrigued by the theory behind the practices and the generalizability of companies’ experiences,” Hu says. “When I started my master’s program and got involved in research projects, I found myself fascinated by doing research and disseminating knowledge. Then, I applied to doctoral programs in organizational behavior, received my Ph.D., and started my career as a business school faculty member at the University of Notre Dame in 2012.”
THE DOCS WITH MUSICAL CHOPS
Many of these exceptionally talented professors excel in areas outside academia. Chia-Jung Tsay, who is an associate professor at the University London College School of Management, is a trained performance pianist. Tsay decided to become a business school professor “after a detour into medicine,” she says. “During my years in medical school, I often skipped class to spend more hours practicing piano.” Tsay found Shoshana Dobrow, who was a professional bassoonist and a business school professor. “Her example and guidance allowed me to understand more concretely what a dual career in academia and music could entail. I love and cite her work to this day,” Tsay says.
Tsay now focuses some of her research on judgments of performance. “I have found that professional musicians are able to reliably select the actual winners of live classical music competitions based on silent video recordings, but they are not able to identify the winners based on sound recordings or recordings with both video and sound,” she says. “This points to powerful vision-biased preferences on selection processes, even at the highest levels of performance. My co-authors and I have elaborated on the meaning of this effect across domains – including for judgments of entrepreneurial pitch competitions and group performance, and in service operations in the food industry.”
David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, is a self-described punk rocker. “I took a very circuitous route to get here, and never imagined that I would wind up as a business school professor,” Rand says. “I started as a punk rocker, then became a computational biologist, then a behavioral economist, and then a cognitive psychologist.”
Rand’s musical evolution is fascinating — and well-documented on his music page. It ranges from his punk/hardcore band in the early 2000s, which Rand describes as “Loud noise that I used to make with my best friends” to ukelele covers of the punk band Rancid while on paternity leave with his twins.