2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Namrata Goyal, Esade Business School

Congrats to Namrata Goyal of Esade Business School for being named a 2023 Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professor

Namrata Goyal

Esade Business School

“Namrata Goyal is a truly outstanding researcher and I do consider her, without a doubt, as one of the most capable young scholars I have met throughout my career so far. She has an immense passion for research and an incisive ability to conduct creative, compelling, and rigorous studies to test her ideas. I was able to observe these qualities in the context of our cooperative project on the effect of norm-violations on the liking of politicians and voting intentions. Her productivity and creative approach in designing experiments vastly exceeded the expectations. I´m thrilled about our continuing collaboration.”Veronika Job, professor

Namrata Goyal, 36, is an assistant professor of people management at Esade Business School as well as Academic Director of the Decision Lab, Esade’s empirical research hub.

She is a social psychologist studying how cultural and moral norms affect decision-making in organizations. Prior to joining Esade, she completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia Business School and Ph.D. in social psychology from The New School for Social Research.

Her research has been published in numerous academic journals, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Perspectives in Psychological Science, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Her work has also been featured in popular media such as the BBC. 

She is also an active faculty member at the Barcelona Center for Behavioral Sciences and the Leadership Development Research Center


At current institution since what year? 2020

Education: Ph.D. in Social Psychology (New School for Social Research, New York City)

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Discovering our Leadership Blindspots


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I stumbled into a business school as a psychology grad student and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by a diverse group of extremely talented nerds from every discipline under the sun, including ones from fields not traditionally associated with business such as psychology, sociology, anthropology and even physics! I realized that B-school is a great place for interdisciplinary collaboration. It’s kind of like the Avengers, but instead of saving the world, we are collaborating on scientific research! I also love the energy and excitement of business schools – everyone’s hopped up on caffeine and startup ideas. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? In recent years, people have been fascinated by unconventional leaders (e.g., Beppe Grillo, Donald Trump) who often broadcast prior “bad behavior.” In my research, I ask when and under what conditions such disclosures are beneficial to leaders. Through a series of experiments, I have discovered that people (both on the political right and left) tend to admire rule-breakers, but only if their behavior is anti-establishment (rather than anti-social) and only if they are up-front about their past transgressions. I am currently carrying out additional studies to determine if broadcasting prior anti-establishment behaviors is beneficial to female leaders as well.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I think I would make a great food critic. I have a reputation for being highly selective and demanding when it comes to food, so these traits would come in handy in this profession!

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Perhaps, what makes me different is that I am a psychologist in a business school. I focus on looking inward, rather than outward. Thus, my leadership class focuses on the process of self-discovery and introspection and I think students find that useful. 

One word that describes my first-time teaching:  Exhilarating. I was nervous as I was 25 years old, a graduate student, and an immigrant to the United States. I was also very positively excited to have been given the opportunity to lead a class and to be challenged by the unknown.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That even casual Friday attire means business casual outfits at best.

Professor I most admire and why: Professor Michael W. Morris (Columbia Business School), he has a brilliant mind and is a wonderful human being. MM, as many of us call him, also embodies many of the qualities of an inspiring leader. He is a natural perspective-taker with a deep reservoir of empathy and a solid mentor to all his students. I hope someday I can inspire my students the way MM has inspired me. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? What I love most about teaching business school students is that every class is a surprise. An MBA class is often populated with a diverse range of professionals from doctors, veterans, physicists, and musicians to entrepreneurs, accountants and financial consultants. It is a joy to interact with and learn from them as each student brings a unique set of skills and insights that enriches the learning experience for everyone involved.

What is most challenging? The business world is constantly evolving, so it is sometimes challenging to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, practices, and technologies. However, I am happy to learn about this from my students, and I often do!

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: I think I’d have to say “explorer.” Explorers want to discover; they are willing to consider different perspectives and challenge their own beliefs. Explorers also tend to facilitate a culture of critical thinking in the classroom.

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: I thought long and hard about this question. I guess it is challenging to have a disinterested student in class, but I can’t say they are my least favorite, because I do enjoy the challenge of engaging a disinterested student. And, when someone who is disinterested becomes interested, it is highly rewarding.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… reasonable. I am a big proponent of open-note exams. I don’t believe in memorizing information for the sake of memorizing. I think it is important to empower students to be responsible for their own learning. I see my role as a discussion facilitator and a stable source of feedback and scientific input, rather than someone who is there to judge them on their potential.


What are your hobbies? I am a trained Indian classical dancer (Bharat Natyam), and I enjoy dancing. I also enjoy swimming, boxing, and (Peloton) cycling. I also love cooking, it is how I practice mindfulness.

How will you spend your summer? Between city, hill, and beach landscapes visiting loved ones in New York City, Rome, and Barcelona.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: For me, vacation = beach time, so I’d have to say the Isole Aeolie, Procida, or Favignana in Italy or Costa Brava in Spain. But I have a soft-spot for Goa, a beach destination in India. I must say though, that my desire to visit Goa is predominantly driven by nostalgia and the urge to holiday with my large and colorful extended Indian family.

Favorite book(s): Blindness, José Saramago

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I recently watched two seasons back-to-back of The White Lotus. It’s a beautifully shot satire that very cleverly and subtly skewers the privileged class and their frivolous pursuits. It is sort of a nuanced exploration of power dynamics and social issues. I find it entertaining, novel, and thought-provoking.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? My taste in music is very eclectic. I enjoy a range of music from soft rock, jazz, and hip-hop to Bollywood and even electronic dance music! Music lets me take control of my mood.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…if it were up to me, the business school of the future would have a stronger emphasis on holistic education, and thus offer classes in philosophy, literature, and the social sciences. By examining business problems through multiple lenses and exploring the historical, cultural, and societal forces that shape our world, students would in my opinion, develop stronger critical thinking and empathy skills that are essential for becoming both responsible citizens and effective leaders.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… As we face complex challenges such as climate change, income inequality, and social injustice, I think companies and organizations could strive to do a better job at prioritizing social responsibility.

I’m grateful for… I am sincerely thankful for the many wonderful people in my life who inspire me to be the best version of myself. First and foremost, my mother (Alka) who is brave and fearless and continuously motivates me to follow my dreams. I am also grateful for my partner, Matteo, for providing me with unwavering support, “constructive” feedback (ahem), and for giving me the greatest joy of my life – our son, Ayan. I am grateful for my siblings, Arush and Shikha, for being my safety nets, and for my father (Rahul). I am also grateful for my in-laws (Donatella and Angelo) for their love and support. I am grateful for my four best friends, Sandrine, Shelley, Elisa, and Deepali for picking me up whenever I fall. I am also grateful for the patience and guidance of my mentors, Michael Morris, Krishna Savani, and Joan Miller. I am grateful for the support of my wonderful colleagues and friends in Barcelona – Jonas, Veronica, Maya, Irene, Jordi, and many more. And, last but not least, I am very grateful for my incredible Esade MBA students who inspire me to “do good and do better” every day. 


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