2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Harris Kyriakou, ESSEC Business School

Congrats to Harris Kyriakou ESSEC Business School for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Harris Kyriakou

ESSEC Business School

An all round amazing and high impact professor teaching MBA students how to lead in today’s AI disrupted world. He is so up to date that he typed a new case about a boardroom discussion in Google, thinking about the effects of ChatGPT’s market launch on their business model, and whether they should launch LaMDA or not. Lo and behold, after we discussed and deliberated Google’s ‘optimum’ strategy in class, the same thing played out in the real world in the form BARD (LaMDA 2)!”Dhiraj Ambadipudi

Harris Kyriakou, 39, is an associate professor in Information Systems, Decision Sciences & Statistics at ESSEC Business School. He is also the ESSEC Media & Digital Chair. 

He focuses on how artificial and collective intelligence can enhance product development processes. The overarching goal of his research is to provide insights into how organizations can create value beyond their typical boundaries and endeavors. His work, research, and engagement with executives have focused on the intersection between artificial and collective intelligence, digital strategy and transformation, as well as data-informed decision-making.

He is the recipient of the Early Career Award by the Association for Information Systems and has served as an advisor on digitalization issues for the European Commission. His research has received best paper awards from the Academy of Management (AoM), the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and a best dissertation award. He has also received an outstanding associate editor award from the Academy of Management (AoM).


At current institution since what year? 2021


  • PhD. Business Administration, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • M.S. Engineering & Technology Innovation Management, Carnegie Mellon University
  • B.Sc. Digital Systems, University of Piraeus

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Managing Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation & Strategy, Business Analytics & Artificial Intelligence,  and Analysis of Business Problems


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… Even though none of my family members were in academia, I distinctly remember always having tremendous respect for university professors and their profession. Despite some of my early courses and interactions with university professors being somewhat underwhelming (to say the least), I believe that by ultimately having the opportunity to take courses and be mentored by professors including Serguey Braguinsky (at Carnegie Mellon, currently at the University of Maryland) rejuvenated my interest toward academia and becoming a business school professor.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My research focuses on providing insights into how the use of artificial intelligence and crowds can enhance product development processes. With my collaborators, I am currently conducting research on topics pertinent to digital strategy, online platforms, and innovation diffusion. My current research projects focus on the music industry, Airbnb, and Kickstarter, as well as AI and blockchain startups.

A discovery that I am particularly excited about stems from our joint work with Jeff Nickerson (Stevens Institute of Technology) and Ann Majchrzak (University of Southern California) and was recently published in MIS Quarterly. This work examines in depth the role that the form and function novelty of a product play in its success. Past research on product development processes has mostly focused on individual product characteristics, with novelty — meaning how uncommon a product is compared to preexisting ones — having a prominent role in these endeavors. However, while some have recommended striving for the development of novel products, others have advocated against novelty as it not only creates uncertainty but also increases search costs for consumers.

In our joint work, we examined more than 35,000 products developed in the largest open innovation community for 3D printing to date. We provide evidence that products that are novel either in terms of their form or in terms of their function, are used more than their counterparts. However, in contrast to past findings and this overall strong preference for novel products, consumption is lower when a product is novel both in terms of its form as well as in terms of its function. Our work can guide managers and designers alike in developing and identifying products that are more likely to become successful.

If I weren’t a business school professor… No idea, I would probably be working as a data scientist in big tech, or working in tech consulting. For complete transparency, some of my good Indian friends insist that becoming a Bollywood actor should always be my plan B.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Being genuine and my sense of humor.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Terror.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Too many things! Just to name a few: teaching effectiveness is not only dependent on the quantity of unique insights that one can broadcast or generate, but it is also heavily dependent on one’s ability to i) clearly communicate these ideas, ii) make explicit how these insights carry significant and direct implications for the work of managers, and iii) keep the attention of participants as much as possible to make these ideas sticky.

Knowledge is stickier when participants engage in dialogues and debates orchestrated by the professor (i.e., Socratic Method), as opposed to a one-way, often monotonous, transmission of knowledge.

Learning does not need to be dictated by the professor, as participants—especially when cohorts have significant work experience as in MBAs—learn LOADS from i) pre-class preparation and discussions within their subgroups, ii) listening and debating one another’s viewpoints during class discussions, as well as from iii) professor’s mistakes. Unfortunately, only some of the latter are intentional.

If you want to teach the same content for the next 40 years, don’t pursue research or teach anything related to emerging technologies!

Professor I most admire and why: There are many professors that have inspired my research and teaching, and I consider myself in debt to them.

On the teaching side, I have learned the most from a legend —namely Prof. Carlos Garcia Pont at IESE Business School—who was the first person that prepped me to teach in a truly interactive way. I also benefited tremendously from notes, meetings, and discussions with the rest of the professors of the “Analysis of Business Problems” teaching group including Profs. Luis Palencia, Edi Soler, and Thomas Klueter. 

I also benefited from the willingness of other high-performing colleagues to attend my sessions and give constructive feedback on my teaching including Profs. Juan Carlos Vázquez-Dodero, Iñigo Gallo, and Mike Rosenberg, all of which helped me improve my teaching efficacy and style.

On the research side, the people that have influenced me the most besides my Ph.D. buddy, friend, and nowadays coauthor Yegin Genc (Pace University) whose brain I always enjoy picking, include my former advisor Jeff Nickerson (Stevens Institute of Technology) who cultivated my interest in creative processes, Ann Majchrzak (University of Southern California) who taught me a ton about conducting top-notch research on digital innovation, and Likoebe Maruping (Georgia State University) who constantly inspires me to become a better scholar (and person) as well as pay it forward.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Being a business school professor is the best job ever, as it not only offers the opportunity to discuss topics that you are genuinely interested in, but also allows you to engage in regular debates with a room full of super-smart individuals. Such a dynamic environment enables you to constantly refine your ideas, ultimately leading to cutting-edge research that addresses real-world, contemporary, pressing managerial problems.

What is most challenging? Probably hiding my emotions when a participant is not trying enough to reach their full potential.

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Persevering.

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: Arrogant.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…Fair.


What are your hobbies? I used to play soccer a LOT, but it has been a couple of years since I stopped. I need to get a life (again), and playing soccer is a critical component of that plan, or so I think.

How will you spend your summer? As most summers, I will be spending it in Greece, specifically in the Halkidiki region, which combines picturesque beaches and villages, forests, as well as archaeological sites, highly recommended!

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I love road tripping. Going through the classic Pacific Coast highway, as well as through the French and Italian Rivieras were some of my most memorable experiences.

Favorite book(s): “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen was the book that made me truly excited about the field of technology management, innovation, and strategy. More recently, “The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age” by David L. Rogers is a great read for anyone interested in digital transformation, and “Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence” (by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb) provides great insights regarding the business implications of AI.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My all-time favorite movie is Forrest Gump, a movie that blends historical events, humor, and drama in a quirky and heartwarming way while highlighting the beauty of simplicity. More recently, I enjoyed watching “The Dropout” and “WeCrashed” as they both focus on the stories of (fallen) tech companies.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? The benefit of the list requiring me to disclose my age is that I can answer without worrying that my answer would hint my age: indie and rock had loads of fun in James and Coldplay concerts (back in the day)!


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Business schools of the future would tailor their offerings to the needs of individual learners, becoming platforms for the exchange of impactful ideas and insights, while also being restructured to provide lifelong learning opportunities to everyone.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Building cumulative knowledge so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel, learning from their past mistakes and the mistakes of others, as well as developing capabilities to transfer knowledge from adjacent problem domains.

I’m grateful for… The unconditional love and support I have received from my wife throughout my career. I am also grateful to be the father of the most caring, smart, and funny daughter anyone could ever hope for.



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.