2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Xu Zhang, London Business School

Congrats to Xu Zhang of London Business School for being named a 2023 Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professor.

Xu Zhang

London Business School

Xu’s classes were outstanding and made a remarkable impact on my career. She is always looking for new and innovative ways to teach and inspire her students. She constantly explores new go-to-market approaches and tests emerging strategies with us. Xu is an outstanding marketing professor who is passionate, knowledgeable, innovative, and dedicated to both her students and the field of marketing.” – Katherine Chen

Xu Zhang, 33, is an assistant professor of marketing at London Business School.

She is a marketing expert who specializes in developing effective marketing strategies for digital platform markets and analyzing how information design and pricing can impact market efficiency, business profits, and consumer welfare. With a global reach, she collaborates with companies across various industries including healthcare, freelance, e-commerce, online travel, and NFT. 

Her work has been published in leading journals such as Marketing Science and Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, and she has been interviewed by leading media outlets, including The BBC and The Economist. She is an editorial board member of Marketing Science

Zhang was a runner-up in 2021 for LBS’s Best Teacher Award for the Masters in Management program. 

BACKGROUND

At current institution since what year? 2018 

Education: Ph.D. in Business Economics from the University of Michigan

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Digital Marketing.

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was in my first economics class at Peking University, where I found myself seated in the last row of a 500-seat classroom. Although I had planned to read some novels to pass the lecture time, I found myself completely captivated by the professor’s delivery. I was blown away by how much influence an economist can have on people’s lives. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in academia and become a professor myself.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently exploring pricing strategy and information design across a variety of online platforms. My latest research projects are centered around online healthcare platforms. Through my research, I have discovered that online platforms have immense potential to provide quality healthcare services to underserved populations. However, this potential can only be realized through careful consideration of pricing decisions, including utilizing network effects during negotiations, and the design of information provision, such as endorsing and certifying doctors on the platform.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would have liked to become a cardiologist. If ability was not a factor, I would have loved to be a pianist. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I genuinely care for my students and I am passionate about the topics that I teach and the research that I undertake.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Humbling.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: It’s inevitable that there will be topics or areas where my students know more than I do. Rather than feeling intimidated by this, I can embrace this fact and use it to create a collaborative learning environment and enhance the classroom experience. 

Professor I most admire and why: The professors who I most admire are my Ph.D. advisors, Prof. Francine Lafontaine and Prof. Puneet Manchanda from the University of Michigan. They have not only taught me the beauty of research but also the beauty of life. Their guidance and mentorship have been instrumental in shaping me as a researcher and as a person, for which I am forever grateful. 

TEACHING MBA STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? What I enjoy most is hearing diverse perspectives from my students and seeing them apply what they have learned in class to their own businesses or jobs. It’s truly rewarding to witness their growth and success beyond the classroom.

What is most challenging? Memorizing students’ names and linking them to their faces.

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

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Someone who provides detailed and personalized feedback. 

LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies? Accordion and piano.

How will you spend your summer? Family Time + Travel + Research.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Small islands with beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and warm sunshine. There are so many places in Europe that fit the bill!

Favorite book(s): It’s hard for me to pick a favorite one. I prefer selecting books based on my mood and surroundings.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I’m into musicals, and right now one of my favorites is Mamma Mia! It’s such a lovely experience to watch it with my eldest daughter in London’s West End. What makes the show even more special to me is that since then, both my daughters and I have been singing and dancing at home to catchy songs like “Honey Honey” and “Dancing Queen” almost every week for the past year. It’s a delightful experience that never gets old and it has brought the family even closer.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I’m into all kinds of music, but I really love classical and pop. Yiruma is one of my favorite composers, and I can’t get enough of his beautiful piece “River Flows in You.”

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Experiential learning opportunities for students and substantial impact on the government policy-making process. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Understanding, assessing, and educating on the value and risks of data.

I’m grateful for… The love and unwavering support of my family and friends. Their presence in my life is priceless, and I cherish it above all else.

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE 2023 ROSTER OF THE WORLD’S BEST 40-UNDER-40 MBA PROFESSORS

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