2022 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: U. David Park, Syracuse University, Martin J. Whitman School of Management 

U. David Park

Syracuse University, Martin J. Whitman School of Management 

“Professor Park is one of the most memorable educators in my life. He cared about his students as whole people; he cared that we understood the content and that he also understood us as individuals. By caring to understand what motivated each of us, he was able to create an adaptable pedagogy for his teaching and offered multiple ways of understanding a problem. In my case, complex financial model could become a poetic story that brought the issue to life and stuck in my brain. Six years after being his student (albeit a student with major senioritis — sorry prof!), I still feel inspired to nominate him because I still feel his impact as someone who embodies the “poets and quants” energy.” – Tara Ghassemikia

U. (Uisung) David Park, 38, is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

His research focuses on leaders of new ventures and established firms and their influences on organizational-level decisions, actions, and consequences. His works have been published in top academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal and have won numerous best paper awards from major academic conferences such as the Academy of Management, Strategic Management Society, and the Korean Academic Society of Business Administration. 

He is the winner of several teaching awards and recognitions including Star Teacher Awards, and the Ph.D. Program Teaching Award from the University of Washington. Before joining academia, he co-founded a high-tech startup and served as a Marine Corps officer.

BACKGROUND

At current institution since what year? 2017

Education: 

  • Ph.D. in Business Administration, University of Washington
  • MS in Business Administration, Seoul National University
  • BBA University of Seoul

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Opportunity Recognition and Ideation 

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I realized that business professors create new relevant business knowledge, introduce new ways of thinking in business, and positively influence people and society via their research and teaching. This happened when I was working on my high-tech startup and taking business courses in the masters program after serving as a Marine Corps officer. I was fascinated with what my business professors were doing and how much value they were creating as researchers and teachers, and I knew I wanted to be a business school professor then.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Previously, I examined the role of corporate leaders’ political ideology on important corporate decisions. Recently, I have expanded my research to investigate how organizational leaders’ political ideology influences organizational behaviors in other contexts such as non-profit and social enterprises. In one working paper, I find that leaders’ ideology is imbued in the missions of social enterprises in the form of moral discourse, and this is more or less pronounced in different social cause areas where the organizations are operating. In another in-progress study, I discover that organizational leaders with different ideological stances can work together to manage difficult and challenging tasks such as handling both commercialization and traditional non-profit organizing as nonprofit, highlighting the value of ideological diversity within organizations.  

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be a serial entrepreneur as I love to come up with different business ideas to address important and difficult problems out in the world. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I am not sure if I stand out as a professor. There are so many great professors that I admire, and I strive to be like them. However, I can rely on common themes emerged from my students’ feedback to answer this question. According to my students, my courses opened their mind to an entirely new topic, helped them to think differently by exposing them to a wide variety of views on business, offered useful frameworks and tools they can utilize as business professional, and pushed them hard to acquire practical business skills and business acumen via experiential learning. They also noticed that I am passionate, encouraging, engaging, and knowledgeable as a teacher. 

One word that describes my first time teaching: Blast!

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Publication can take years! It can take years to write a paper and several more years to go through the double-blinded review processes. So, learn to be patient and remember that hard work pays out. 

Professor I most admire and why: As mentioned, I have many professors that I admire, but if I had to pick one today, I would say Professor Emeritus Sung Joo Park, from Korea National Open University, for his active engagement with society via his teaching, research, and nonprofit organization. He has used his knowledge and expertise to make a positive impact on his students and the people around him, not just as a professor, but also as a founder of a successful mission-based nonprofit that fosters future leaders. He is a great scholar who is determined to change the world for the better, and I was privileged to observe his actions and impact closely as his son. 

TEACHING MBA STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I enjoy unlocking my students’ creativity and guiding them to tap into their entrepreneurial potential. Most of my MBA students are interested in pursuing high-paying jobs in finance and consulting, and they think that they are not the creative entrepreneurial type. However, after taking my course, my students realize that they are more creative than they think and learn to apply entrepreneurship in any career they pursue to become more successful. 

What is most challenging? I enjoy teaching MBA students so much to the point where I spend too much time prepping, teaching, and interacting with them when I have other responsibilities. So, time management has been a bit of challenge for me. 

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

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… demanding, but fair. 

LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies? I love learning something new. Last year, I learned to play golf and became a bogey player. I also enjoy lifting heavy weights (currently benching 245lb, squatting 400lb, and deadlifting 410lb). Reading all sorts of genres has been one of my favorite hobbies, too. 

How will you spend your summer? I will attend several academic conferences (hopefully in-person) and work on my research. I also plan to spend some time honing my golf skills. My goal is to become a single-digit handicap golfer this year. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Korea, European countries, U.S. National parks, New York State parks.

Favorite book(s): I have so many favorite books. The Gospel According to Matthew, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber, Discourse on the Method by René Descartes, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Grit by Angela Duckworth, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson to name a few.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Right now, Pachinko from Apple TV. The show, based on a bestselling book Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, resonates a lot with me as the generational story of oppression, endurance, and resilience in Pachinko is basically the story of my family going through the Japanese colonization of Korea, World War II and the Korean War, and living as diasporas. I just finished watching the first season and I love it. They did an amazing job organizing the story and shining lights on uncomfortable, but accurate historical backgrounds that people should be aware of. Can’t wait to watch the second season.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I enjoy listening to all sorts of music from classical to hip hop, but if I must pick one genre, it’s classical music and my favorite composer is J.S. Bach. I appreciate Bach’s devotion to God (i.e., the perfect ideal) expressed through mathematical precision and mastery of melody in his music. His music is deeply inspiring and awesome.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… I believe that business education can benefit everyone regardless of their career and interest. So, I would love to see the business schools getting more involved in general higher education and teaching every college student basic business knowledge and skills of marketing, management, accounting, finance, and entrepreneurship. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… balancing the needs and demands of different stakeholders. Focusing on a few types of stakeholders can have a devastating effect on others. I think companies and organizations are recognizing this fact more and considering environmental, social, and governance issues more, but they can certainly do better by being creative and entrepreneurial. 

I’m grateful for… everything. So much to be thankful! Thanks, P&Q for the 40 under 40. I “grew” up reading the 40 under 40 articles and admiring great professors on the list when I was in my PhD program. It feels unreal that my name is on this list. I am honored and humbled. Shout out to all my amazing students. I am lucky to get to know my students personally and it’s my joy to see them succeed and to witness how they are making a positive dent in the world. I am grateful for the excellent colleagues at Syracuse and other institutions who have mentored and inspired me to be a better professor. I can truly love and enjoy what I do because of them. I am blessed with an incredible family and wonderful friends. I am indebted to their endless love and support. I thank my Lord Jesus who has been unbelievably gracious to me every day. 

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE 2022 ROSTER OF THE WORD’S BEST 40-UNDER-40 MBA PROFESSORS

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