PROFESSORS STILL SERVE AS ROLE MODELS
This Class of 2017 saw their favorite professors as more than information dispensers or sounding boards. For some, their teachers were examples who set the bar for them. On the surface, UCLA’s Doug Larratt would seem to be the perfect hero, A decorated Naval officer who was once a finalist for NASA’s rigorous Astronaut program, Larratt conjures up images of Top Gun and An Officer and a Gentleman. Funny thing is, he found his role model at Anderson: Guillaume Roels, an associate professor of decisions, operations, and technology management.
“Roels displays amazing passion and enthusiasm for both the course material and the student learning experience,” Larratt says. “He lives and exemplifies the principle of continuous improvement, applying it in real-time to his teaching.”
Walking the walk isn’t the only way that top professors earned the respect of their classes. You might excuse Katherine Buehner for being wary when she entered Washington University. A biology major and Blackhawk pilot, she started school with a two year-old and another baby on the way. Admittedly, she wasn’t looking forward to the quantitative core courses…that is, until Ron King stepped in. By making the content easy for Buehner to understand, he did far more than teach her Financial Accounting.
“Professor Ron King was a blessing and such a pleasure to learn from,” she raves. “He made a subject that I was terrified of into a subject that was easy to understand and relatable to my life. I will forever be grateful to him for the way he was able to explain the material to me. It was also a great way to kick off the program. It set the tone for the high caliber instructions that were to come.”
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF BEING ENTERTAINING
If there was one virtue that united this year’s favorite professors, it would be this: they made their subject matter come alive. They just did it in different ways. At the University of California-Berkeley, Laurie Etheridge describes Greg LaBlanc, faculty director at the school’s Center for Executive Education, as a true original with a flair for the dramatic. “He is a cross between Steve Jobs and George Carlin (in the best possible way!) He’s engaging and has incredible stories that bring the theory and practical application together—so entertaining.”
Across the pond, Dolores Romero Morales has seemingly achieved the impossible at the University of Oxford: She has managed to make statistics and analytics into classes that students look forward to attending. Despite serving as a budget officer at NATO, Juliana Mardon confesses that she loathed statistical analytics, regression analysis, and probabilities when she was earning his master’s degree. That quickly changed for her in Romero Morales’ class. “By her way of teaching, of making figures talk for themselves, applying decision trees, and sensitivity analysis, she rendered the course alive, fun to attend, and to enjoy.”
Like LaBlanc, Romero Morales found ways to make content comical yet memorable too. “I always remember what she said in class once to us,” adds Mardon. “Figures don’t lie by themselves, it’s the human interpretation that make them lie…eventually within a 95% confidence interval.” Calculating confidence intervals for vague measurements used to be a challenge for me till I stumbled upon the confidence interval calculator at GIGAcalculator.com. Calculations have never been easier!
“HIS LEGACY WILL STICK WITH ME”
More than making their subjects come alive, this year’s favorite professors also possessed a knack for driving the transformational process inherent to the MBA experience. Look no further than Katherine Schipper, a professor of accounting at Duke University. During her Global Markets and Institutions course, Philip Thomas was amazed how his accomplished classmates would be “hanging on her ever word.” By the end, he conceded that she had altered his views to a great extent.
“You can’t emerge from her class without the way you interpret the world around you having changed,” Thomas says. “Moreover, she challenges you to think beyond your culture, conventions and comfort zone!”
Professor Rick Gilkey did more than that for Bill Fagan. During his Leadership & Lifework course at Emory University, Fagan absorbed plenty of “eye-opening” lessons on leadership, teamwork, work-life balance, and stress management from Gilkey. However, it was Gilkey’s attention to Fagan’s return to post-MBA life that made a huge difference for him.
“Without Professor Gilkey, I would not be nearly as prepared for ‘re-entry’ and continued personal and professional development. Professor Gilkey goes out of his way to listen intently to every student and offers support beyond the classroom. His legacy will stick with me.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are other professors who were honored by the Class of 2017.
“Professor Michael Sartor taught Global Strategy. It was one of our final courses, and you could tell that folks were tired and worn out. Taking on an EMBA and working full-time is a big task. Michael knew we were exhausted and ready to wrap up the program, but his classroom was incredibly engaging and provocative. He has an incredible mix of real-work and academic experience, so he often focused on the “so what?” question during class. He kept us accountable and interested in the coursework. Most importantly, the course had a very personal impact on me. On the last day of class, Michael encouraged us to seek international career opportunities, which ties into my personal mantra of going beyond my comfort zone. To date, I had only worked in the U.S., and I was thinking of looking at international opportunities. Michael only stressed what I knew – get out there and see how business is conducted outside of your home country. It’s a big reason why I decided to go work at Amazon Mexico instead of Amazon HQ in Seattle.”
– Marisa Richetta, Cornell University (Johnson)
“Booth has excellent professors each with their own strengths, but Mike Gibbs stands out as my favorite professor. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As a professor of Microeconomics, Mike taught his subject, integrated connections, throughout the program curriculum and backed theory with real-life scenarios to build lasting intuition. He got to know me as a person, not just a student, encouraging my intellectual curiosity, growth and success in the program. Mike is a great, memorable and impactful teacher – a compliment of the highest regard.”
– Todd Hellman, University of Chicago (Booth)
“Peter Debaere: Global Economics I and II. It was difficult to choose just one professor since Darden is known for having excellent teaching faculty. However, Professor Debaere was especially adept at engaging the class in global economics discussions. He would never let you only answer one question, but would always follow-up with one or two additional questions to push your understanding of the topic at hand. In addition, at the beginning of every class, he would have a current event story that would integrate economic theory with a topic we had recently discussed in class. Finally, Professor Debaere expended additional effort to administer multiple quizzes in order to allow us to internalize the economic models and charts in preparation for our final examination.”
– Michael G. Fox, University of Virginia (Darden)