2024 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Telesilla Olympia Kotsi, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

Telesilla Olympia Kotsi
Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

“The most compelling story I wish to share is Professor Kotsi’s profound impact on my journey as a neurodivergent MBA student. Disclosing my neurodivergence to Professor Kotsi led to a transformative experience. She not only recognized the importance of creating an inclusive space but also took proactive steps to accommodate my access needs. For the first time since beginning my MBA program, I felt genuinely seen and included in a course.

“I am thankful for Professor Kotsi’s role in my growth and self-advocacy journey. As I near graduation in May and prepare to enter the corporate world as a senior associate in JPMorgan Chase’s Chase Associate Program, I am determined to apply the knowledge and experiences I gained at Ohio State to positively impact individuals with disabilities. Professor Kotsi’s unwavering commitment to her students, regardless of their backgrounds, is a true testament to her exceptional qualities as an educator, mentor, and scholar. I strongly believe that professors like her can shape the future of business education.” – Eva Menezes, MBA Student

Telesilla Olympia, 37, is Assistant Professor at Kotsi at Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

Her research explores strategic and tactical decision-making within nonprofit organizations, focusing on how these decisions affect the organization’s resource allocation and community’s well-being. She often combines fieldwork with rigorous analytical methods.

Her findings have been published in leading operations management journals such as Manufacturing and Service Operations Management. Kotsi has also contributed articles to The Conversation and other media outlets.

Her work has been recognized with several awards, including the 2022 MSOM Responsible Research Award and the 2021 Elwood S. Buffa Doctoral Dissertation Award, highlighting its impact and relevance.


At current institution since what year? 2020


  • Ph.D., Indiana University Kelley School of Business
  • M.S., University of Edinburgh School of Mathematics
  • Bsc., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki School of Engineering

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Data Analysis for Business Managers


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… Growing up, I saw firsthand the impact of education through my father, a university professor, and my mother, a high-school teacher. Their dedication to their students and the joy they found in teaching shaped my perspective on education.

This influence became clear during my time as a research assistant in my late 20s at the Humanitarian Research Group at INSEAD. There, I realized how mathematical modeling could address not just business efficiencies but also significant societal challenges, a revelation that I found immensely rewarding. Watching students and practitioners work with Professor Luk Van Wassenhove and Professor Maria Besiou to apply these strategies in real-life scenarios solidified my desire to teach. This made me appreciate how teaching could allow me to share impactful knowledge and directly influence both scholars and practitioners.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently exploring the impact of medicine donation programs by U.S. pharmaceutical firms, specifically targeting surplus medicines. Many seniors and uninsured individuals struggle to afford brand-name medications, making these programs essential. Our research highlights the need for well-designed incentives to foster effective collaboration between corporate social responsibility and supply chain teams, ensuring that essential medications are delivered swiftly and are accessible to those in need.

By understanding the roles and contributions of each stakeholder, we aim to develop practical interventions that significantly improve access to essential medicines. This holistic perspective is essential for addressing the complex issues surrounding medicine availability and cost. In general, my research takes a comprehensive approach, investigating how different entities such as for-profit companies, nonprofits, communities, and government agencies can collaborate to tackle broad social challenges.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I might have pursued a career as a fiction writer or a children’s book author. Or, I might have opened a small bookstore in a Greek island so that I can pass my days reading books!

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I am deeply committed to the success of my students, both in and out of the classroom. I make it a priority to be accessible, whether for academic advice, career guidance, or personal mentoring, which helps build strong relationships and supports students in achieving their professional and personal goals. If possible, I even try to involve them in my current research projects.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Thrilling

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That I can no longer go to the gym on campus without bumping into some of my students.

Professor I most admire and why: Esther Duflo – Economics: Professor Esther Duflo is renowned for her innovative research methods in development economics, particularly her work on global poverty. She co-authored the book “Poor Economics,” which offers an in-depth analysis of strategies that alleviate poverty. Her approach has significantly reshaped how economic policies are formulated to aid the underprivileged.

Hau Lee – Operations Management: Professor Hau Lee is an expert in supply chain management, known for his research on the value of information and supply chain responsiveness. His work emphasizes how businesses can build robust and efficient supply chains that adapt to uncertainties while minimizing costs. Additionally, he explores how integrating environmental and social objectives into business strategies can enhance sustainability and profitability. Check the podcast episode “Boosting Profits Through Social Responsibility” on Stanford Social Innovation Review!


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Observing the personal and professional growth of students throughout the course is what I enjoy the most. It’s rewarding to know I played a part in their development as future business leaders.

What is most challenging? Some students bring extensive experience, while others enter with fresh perspectives. The diversity of student backgrounds, while enriching, also presents significant challenges. Balancing the varying levels of experience and perspectives requires adaptability and keeps me continually engaged in finding effective ways to address everyone’s learning needs.

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

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

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


What are your hobbies? I regularly practice yoga, enjoying classes with Mindy King at Ethos Fitness and Adrienne on YouTube. I’ve also taken up running and recently ran my first 10K with my brother—a truly awesome experience! On weekends, I love cooking dishes from different countries. It’s a great way to o let my two-year-old get hands-on with cooking as we explore the diverse flavors of dishes from around the world right in our kitchen.

How will you spend your summer? This summer, I’m heading to France and Greece with my family. In Paris, I’ll be working on a research project with a humanitarian organization that responds to armed conflicts worldwide, and I’m excited to see my son explore the Fontainebleau forest. It’s going to be a great mix of work and adventure.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I absolutely love traveling, and Costa Rica and Morocco are at the top of my list. Costa Rica, embodying its motto ‘Pura Vida’ or ‘pure life,’ is just amazing for anyone who loves nature. It’s full of incredible wildlife, lush rainforests, and beautiful beaches. I love how committed they are to preserving their natural beauty, which means we got to see everything in its natural, wild state, from chattering monkeys to colorful parrots.

Morocco had such a special vibe. Whether we’re wandering through the bustling markets of Marrakech, filled with spices and colorful crafts, or staring up at the stars in the Sahara, there was always something magical in the air. The people were so welcoming, and the mix of sounds, from traditional music to the buzz of daily life, just pulled us right in.

Favorite book(s): Right now, I’m really into “Evicted,” which sheds light on housing issues in the U.S., and “The Echo of Old Books,” a novel that beautifully connects the past with the present through the magic of old books.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I can’t get enough of “How to Get Away with Murder”—it’s clever and really makes you think about the complexities of law and ethics. I also love “Soul” from Pixar; it’s a touching story about finding your spark, and the animation is just incredible.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I’m really into rock music, especially PINK and Alicia Keys. Their music has so much energy and emotion. I’m hoping to catch them live someday, especially the “Hell’s Kitchen” show.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… social sustainability. It’d be all about figuring out how we can make sure our economic growth also boosts social equity, community well-being, and overall fairness.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… at engaging with their communities. They should be more proactive in mitigating any negative impact of their business, supporting local initiatives, and responding to the needs of the communities where they operate.

I’m grateful for… my family. They’re my rock through thick and thin.


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