2024 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Jennifer N. Wynn, NYU Stern School of Business

Jennifer N. Wynn
NYU Stern School of Business

“Professor Wynn’s wholehearted commitment to empowering students to become better versions of themselves transcends both the professional and personal. Wynn has not only proved herself to be a devoted scholar of communication and leadership, but also an incredibly talented educator.

“I can personally attest to Professor Wynn’s impact on my education as my professor, as a colleague, and as a member of the staff at NYU. I first met Professor Wynn as the professor of Difficult Conversations, a course she designed and taught that aims to empower students to effectively lead their most challenging and consequential conversations at work to desired outcomes. I can say with utmost certainty that Difficult Conversations transformed my MBA journey. Iit was my first and most impactful classroom experience that delved into the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that drew me to NYU Stern. Professor Wynn is leading the charge in this regard, crafting courses that aim to cultivate students beyond what they can provide institutions as business people, but rather how their humanity can be leveraged to better the world.” – Torrey Crosby

Jennifer N. Wynn, 39, is Clinical Assistant Professor at Stern School of Business, New York University. She is the first Black woman to be a full-time faculty member at Stern and created the popular Stern courses Difficult Conversations and Inclusive Conversations.

Wynn is the founder of Wynn Strategies, a consultancy focused on organizational transformation, change leadership, and healing across sectors.

She is the former Director of Education at the Obama Foundation, where she led a team to design in-person and digital learning for active citizenship, including communication skills like dialogue across difference.

Prior to that, she was a manager in McKinsey & Company’s New York office, where she led teams to design digital and in-person capability-building for clients. She was on the founding team of McKinsey Academy, where her favorite course was Mastering Challenging Conversations.

Wynn is passionate about leadership development and education at all levels. She has founded a middle school, served as a Director of Curriculum Management, and developed courses for MBA students at NYU Stern. She was also a board member of a private education technology company.


At current institution since what year? 2018


  • M.B.A. with Distinction, NYU Stern School of Business
  • M.Ed., Relay Graduate School of Education
  • A.B., Harvard University

List of MBA courses you currently teach: I teach courses in the full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs.

  • Business Communication
  • Difficult Conversations
  • Reparative Conversations
  • Strategic Communication
  • Team Communication


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I realized that my love of teaching helped set business leaders up for success. Specifically, I saw that my executive clients (originally at McKinsey & Company and later in my own consultancy) valued our management and leadership development offerings, but wished they’d had access to them sooner. Hearing this need, I was inspired to equip business school students with management communication and leadership development earlier on in their careers.

So in 2018, I was hired as an adjunct professor at NYU Stern (while working full time at the Obama Foundation). I taught one section of a new course I had created called Difficult Conversations. Three years later, my course had grown to three sections, all with waitlists. It was rewarding to see how much the content resonated with students. Yet, I was also nervous about meeting demand. In 2022, though, I was hired for a full-time clinical faculty position at Stern, and now I’m able to teach and design more classes.

I love teaching because I love empowering people to realize their full potential. I’m energized every day that I get to teach and develop courses for the next generation of organizational leaders. The fact that I get to teach at my alma mater makes it extra special.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I’d still be teaching in some way and running my consultancy because I’m passionate about helping people fulfill their dreams. If not a teacher and consultant, then maybe I’d be a translator (I studied six languages beyond English back in the day).

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Three things come to mind: the courageous classroom environment that I co-create with students, my vulnerability in sharing examples from my own career and life, and the growth that students say they experience as a result are all things that I believe differentiate me as a professor.

My goal is for all students to leave my classes as better versions of themselves—as humans, as communicators, and as leaders. For example, in one of my classes my students analyze and role play some of their most difficult conversations professionally and personally. This requires a learning environment in which we agree to take risks and step outside of our comfort zones with one another to grow. We write that into our community agreements, which we establish together in the first class, and we stick to them. I say “we” because I, too, share real examples from my life with my students.

Additionally, I bring an unique and interdisciplinary perspective to what and how I teach because of my background. In my career, I’ve worked in the private, public, and social sectors. And as a Black and Latina woman and the first college graduate in my mom’s family, I’ve been bridging seemingly disparate worlds most of my life. I relish seeing the interconnectedness between different people, places, and ideas.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilarating

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: You’ll speak to hundreds of students during orientation and, believe it or not, you won’t be nervous.

Professor I most admire and why: I learned so much from my professors when I was earning my MBA at NYU Stern. So it’s now an honor to be back at Stern as their colleague. Two phenomenal professors whose teaching inspired me to want to be a business school professor (and who helped make that dream a reality!) are Diane Lennard and Dolly Chugh.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I really enjoy business school students’ willingness to try out new behaviors, both in the classroom and in the real world, and then come back and discuss it in class. Also their wide range of professional backgrounds and their lived experiences from around the globe further enrich the conversation.

What is most challenging? Ensuring that my students consistently bring intellectual humility and curiosity to each class. Those mindsets are necessary for holding nuance and complexity, which in turn are needed for deeper discussions, better problem-solving, and more visionary solutions in our classroom and beyond.

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

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair. I provide rubrics in advance for all assignments so that grading is transparent.


What are your hobbies? Spending time with my loved ones, especially going out to restaurants with my husband on date night, playing strategy board games with my young kids, and catching up with friends. I also love dance, poetry, and travel.

How will you spend your summer? Professionally, I’ll be teaching an executive MBA course and updating an elective for the fall. Personally, I’ll be spending quality time with my kids and podcasting for fun. Last summer I worked with a former Stern MBA student and now friend of mine to create a new podcast called The H.I. Note: Healing Inspirations for Life. It’s my heart project—not something I did as a professor or management consultant, but as a human.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Anywhere tropical with stunning beaches. I’ve traveled through jungles, cow patties, huge sand dunes–you name it–to reach a beautiful, secluded beach.

Favorite book(s): I have an eclectic mix, but here are some of my favorites…

  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, & Sheila Heen (no surprise there!)
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I have to admit my favorite show right now is “The Voice.” There’s something about watching people become who they’re meant to be and having their moments to shine that always gets me. Also it’s light-hearted during otherwise heavy times, and I love music.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Beyoncé is definitely my favorite artist because, well, Beyoncé.

I do a lot of my work while listening to reggae. And if I’m going for a nostalgic vibe (not while working), then it’s either ‘80s salsa and merengue or ‘90s R&B for me.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Developing relational leaders who cultivate strong connections and relationships between people. “Change happens at the pace of relationships.”

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Enabling teams to have more productive conversations–productive both for the content and for the relationships.

I’m grateful for… My loved ones, both family and friends; the opportunity to teach and learn from my students; and this Poets&Quants honor!


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