The Favorite Professors Of Executive MBAs

“Trust the process.”

You hear that adage from coaches sometimes. It takes time to build a winning culture, they’ll say. It requires attention to detail and repetition. It demands a daily commitment to hone fundamentals and boost speed, strength, and stamina. Starting out, coaches know their players will struggle to sync with each other. When losses pile up, it’s all to easy for players to lose focus and entertain doubts. That’s when coaches remind them of the process – the long-term vision and the inevitable outcome: the confidence, joy, and opportunities that come with achievement.

In the classroom, you could say Ken Carow is like a coach. A Professor of Finance at Indiana University’s Kelley School, Carow knows how to establish the process, says Satchi Hiremath, a physician executive and ’23 Executive MBA graduate. Looking back, he can now see how Carow’s organized the concepts and readings to guide students towards understanding.

“He’s talented at building on a story over time – using fundamental building blocks,” Hiremath explains. “This principle applies to finance in which adding one layer upon another allows you to solve complex problems. Eventually, you’re going to see how we built this tower… It wasn’t about Excel or math, but about concepts, processes, and applications to address real world questions that we would face as physician leaders.”

Ken Carow, Indiana University (Kelley)


Strategy, talent, physical traits – they’ll only take players so far, coaches say. In the end, toughness– the willingness to endure pain and make sacrifices – separates the winners. In business school, that means late nights and early mornings. Making mistakes and falling short – and then coming back for more. For Hiremath, the most “enduring” part of Carow’s classes is the work ethic they instill.

“I never felt unprepared and easily followed his logic and approach. It’s like an athletic coach sometimes pushing you to practice when you hate it. You understand why the coach is driving you. It sharpened my abilities. Ken allowed for interruptions or shortened specific segments because he wanted people to discuss and work through questions. And the cherry on top was he laughed at his finance jokes.”

Ken Carow fits alongside a long list of great business school teachers. They find ways to simplify the complex and animate the abstract. They demand nothing short of excellence – and hold themselves to the same standard. And their wisdom is echoed in every negotiation, coaching session, and presentation their students conduct. These professors take 9:00 p.m. calls and write 4:00 a.m. emails to cater to their EMBA students pinballing between work, family, and school.

For that, they often receive the ultimate compliment from their students: They wish they had learned from them so much sooner!

Every year, P&Q honors the Best & Brightest Executive MBAs – the graduates who personify the best qualities of their cohorts. As part of the nomination process, P&Q asks these students to name the professor who made the biggest impact on them. From Columbia to Yale – and 14 business schools in-between – here are the professors who epitomize the best of business education.

Malia Mason, Columbia Business School

“Many of my Columbia professors left a strong mark on me, but one of them had a more profound and long-lasting effect on my life: Professor Malia Mason. Professor Mason is not only an exceptional educator and researcher, but also a great human being, a leader, and an inspiration to those who take her Managerial Negotiations class. Professor Mason is an expert on social judgment and decision-making in business. Her class materials were outstanding, but more importantly, her “hands-on” approach to teaching negotiations and bargaining was phenomenal. A specific insight that struck me about her class was that, “How we approach a negotiation should also depend on our best guess of the other party’s definition of success.” Since then, I have incorporated this idea very deeply into my life and carried it forward. Professor Mason’s thinking and accomplishments have expanded beyond the walls of Columbia Business School, as she has been recognized by institutions like Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Association for Psychological Science, and Poets&Quants during their 2015 edition of the “World’s Best 40 Under 40 Business School Professors.”
Edgar Iván Núñez Loya, Columbia Business School

“Professor Ori Heffetz at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management has a dynamic teaching style and a gift for masterfully simplifying complex concepts while providing real-world applications. Professor Heffetz’s engaging macro-economic lectures encourage active participation, and he empowers students to tackle real-world economic challenges. His class was the first (and only time) in my academic career that I’ve been limited to 10 words to answer an exam question. His novel approach ensured mastery of the material in such a creative way.”
Corey R. Bailey, Cornell University (Johnson)

Frank T. Rothaermel, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Dan Comas. In addition to being a wonderful person and a great Mergers & Acquisitions teacher, Dan is especially interested in helping his students. His M&A class is a blend of real-world case studies, colored by his own experience and high-level advice on how to build a career and a life. As a former CFO of a Fortune 500 company and a current board member, Dan could be doing any number of other things with his time. Instead, he leads off his course with an offer to continue to meet with students and provide guidance once the class is done. I’m glad to say I took him up on the offer, and he has been a great source of advice and inspiration.”
Adam Lair, Georgetown University (McDonough)

“All of my professors have been great and are experts in their respective fields, but one really stood out to me from the moment I read the well-organized and thorough course syllabus. Before each Strategic Management class, Dr. Frank T. Rothaermel made a point to greet each student personally. His lectures were engaging and informative, and the textbook, written by Frank himself, included innovative, self-adjusting quizzes at the end of each chapter to ensure that students understood the concepts. It was a unique and efficient approach to teaching.”
James Gregory Gibbs, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

“My favorite professor was John Almandoz. I had two courses with him: Leadership and Human Resources Management. These are subjects that are dear to me and that I have considerable experience in. Professor Almandoz challenges you to think through the multiple dimensions of an issue, enabling you to reach key insights and pushing your understanding to a much higher level. I was initially surprised when my grade on leadership did not match my self-evaluation, but his detailed feedback enabled me to make a steep jump in knowledge. His course on HRM enabled me to make an all too important link between Human Resources and strategy and I am making excellent use of the learnings in my current role.”
Joy Araujo, IESE Business School

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