Executives Teaching in B-School

  1. Teachable Moments
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    Teachable Moments

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb's best-selling business book The Black Swan makes a statement about the unique perspective of a practitioner. The book mentions Harvard University professor emeritus Robert Merton and Stanford University professor emeritus Myron Scholes, who together won a Nobel prize in 1997 for a formula used to value financial derivatives. Referencing that formula, Taleb writes, "Traders, bottom-up people, know its wrinkles better than academics by dint of spending their nights worrying about their risks." The statement encapsulates the idea that the nuances of some academic theories might be best understood by the people who put those theories into practice.

    Business schools have come to value the practitioner's perspective, and they are increasingly making room for those viewpoints on their staffs. Bloomberg Businessweek identified 25 top executives who teach. The list includes names such as Oracle (ORCL) Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz, who lectures on M&A and accounting at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, and the chairman and chief executive officer of Anadarko Petroleum (APC), James Hackett, who lectures at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business in Houston.

    The list also includes recently retired executives who have a wealth of uncommon career experience. For example, we added former Deere & Co. (DE) Chief Executive Officer Bob Lane, who was part of a team that opened Deere's first plant in China, and he led the company as it increased revenue outside of North America to $7.96 billion, or about 35 percent of total revenue. Lane now teaches an executive education course at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. His class makes stops in China and India, and his students are primarily executives at North American and European companies that are expanding into emerging markets for the first time.

    Practitioners who teach have their failures as well as their successes on display for students. At the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Bradley Keywell are slated to teach a class this winter on building Internet startups, months after Groupon restated revenue and lost its second chief operating officer in six months. The two adjunct professors may not be able to discuss the details of those experiences in class for legal reasons, says Booth 2012 MBA candidate Daniel Shani, who took their same class earlier this year. But, he says, they are candid about prior missteps, and often use those moments as teaching examples.

    "The one theme that they kept revisiting was the notion of failure," Shani says. "They were always very open and quick to admit to failures of past businesses and Groupon to date, and were willing to use them in discussion."

    Practitioners also serve as a sounding board for students seeking practical career advice. Cie Nicholson is the chief marketing officer at Equinox, a privately held fitness company that owns clubs in New York City, Chicago, and Southern California. Nicholson lectures at her alma mater, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. Before Equinox, she handled marketing for a Bay Area startup and prior to that worked in marketing at PepsiCo (PEP). She routinely describes to students how she executed each career transition—from large public company, to startup, to private company. "I think that is something that is very tangible for them," she says, "and they get a lot out of it."

    Photographer: Getty Images

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  2. Safra Catz: Oracle
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    Safra Catz: Oracle

    Who: Chief financial officer, Oracle (ORCL)
    Where: Stanford University's Graduate School of Business
    What: Lecturer in accounting

    Catz helped oversee Oracle's $7.3 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010, its $3.9 billion purchase of Siebel Systems in 2005, and its $8.4 billion acquisition of Peoplesoft in 2003. She discusses all three in her class at Stanford, says Billy Boidock, who took the class before graduating with an MBA in 2011. "The practical part she gave was what the war room actually looked like and how she researched the personalities across the table. It was heavily a negotiations-based class," Boidock says.

    Catz also reviewed deal structure, discussing which combinations of cash and stock are suited for different scenarios, and "gave good perspective on what is a good asset and what is not," Boidock says. "She really had you hone in on what is valuable in a deal and what you'd be willing to pay for it."

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  3. James Hackett: Anadarko Petroleum
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    James Hackett: Anadarko Petroleum

    Who: Chairman and chief executive officer, Anadarko Petroleum (APC)
    Where: Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business
    What: Lecturer

    In lectures, Hackett takes specific challenges he has encountered in his career and uses them as "teachable moments." One lesson he elaborates on for students is "the fact that even with good planning and complete honesty, employees may question your motives—when their jobs are at stake in a merger," he wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg Businessweek.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  4. James Chanos: Kynikos Associates
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    James Chanos: Kynikos Associates

    Who: Founder and managing partner of Kynikos Associates
    Where: Yale School of Management
    What: Lecturer in finance

    Chanos is famous for short-selling Enron. His current short position: China. "A lot of people look at his shorts, but I don't think they realize how much work and research he does to reach a conclusion," former student Brian Oduor says of Chanos in the classroom. "He literally reads hundreds of pages."

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  5. Eric Lefkofsky and Bradley Keywell: Groupon
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    Eric Lefkofsky and Bradley Keywell: Groupon

    Who: Founders, Groupon
    Where: University of Chicago's Booth School of Business
    What: Adjunct professors in entrepreneurship

    The two professors were not actively teaching a class in September as Groupon restated revenue and lost its second chief operating officer in six months. However, the experience may be a topic of discussion in future classes. Former student and Booth 2012 MBA candidate Daniel Shani says Lefkofsky, who continues to serve as Groupon's chairman, and Keywell spoke candidly about Groupon's failures and mishaps when he took their class on building Internet startups earlier in the year.

    Above, founder Eric Lefkofsky. Photographer: Bloomberg
  6. Joel Peterson: JetBlue
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    Joel Peterson: JetBlue

    Who: Chairman, JetBlue (JBLU)
    Where: Stanford University's Graduate School of Business
    What: Management professor

    Students selected Peterson to receive a Distinguished Teacher Award in 2005. In addition to teaching management, Peterson is also director of Stanford's Center for Leadership Development & Research. He joined JetBlue as a director in 1999, became vice-chairman in 2007, and was named chairman in 2008. Peterson is also a founder of Salt Lake City-based private equity group Peterson Partners.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  7. John Allison: BB&T
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    John Allison: BB&T

    Who: Chairman, BB&T (BBT), 2008-2009; chief executive officer 1997-2008
    Where: Wake Forest University's Schools of Business
    What: Distinguished professor of practice

    To counter what he considers the anti-capitalist orthodoxy at universities, Allison created a campaign through the BB&T Charitable Foundation to give schools grants of as much as $2 million if they agreed to create a course on capitalism and make Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged required reading. Faculty at several schools that accepted Allison's terms protested, saying donors shouldn't have the power to set the curriculum to pursue their political agendas, according to the June issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine. During his tenure as CEO, Allison increased BB&T's assets to $152 billion in 2008, from $31.3 billion in 1997.

    Photographer: Kelly Culpepper
  8. Roxanne Spillet: Boys & Girls Clubs of America
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    Roxanne Spillet: Boys & Girls Clubs of America

    Who: Chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of America
    Where: University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business
    What: Lecturer on nonprofit board governance

    Spillett teaches students about the differences in makeup and expectations between for-profit and nonprofit boards. One lesson she stresses to students is the importance of having people with for-profit experience sit on nonprofit boards. It was for-profit strategizing, she says, that inspired the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to sign alumnus Denzel Washington as a spokesperson. The publicity and name recognition that followed helped the organization double in size, she says.

    Photographer: Brad Mangin/Getty Images
  9. Biz Stone: Twitter
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    Biz Stone: Twitter

    Who: Co-founder, Twitter
    Where: University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business
    What: Executive fellow

    Berkeley announced in August that Stone would advise the dean, faculty, and staff at Haas as an executive fellow. He is expected to share his experiences as a serial entrepreneur with students, the school reports. Stone said in June that he stepped away from day-to-day duties at Twitter to join Evan Williams, another Twitter co-founder, in a new venture.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  10. Noubar Afeyan: Flagship Ventures
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    Noubar Afeyan: Flagship Ventures

    Who: Chief executive officer, Flagship Ventures; chairman, BG Medicine (BGMD), 2000-2011
    Where: MIT's Sloan School of Management
    What: Senior lecturer, MIT Entrepreneurship Center

    As the CEO of venture capital firm and business incubator Flagship Ventures, Afeyan looks for startups to invest in and build. Sometimes he propels a company to the point where it is ready to go public. Such was the case this year with BG Medicine. Flagship made an initial investment in BG in 2000 and took it public in February. Afeyan says seeing one of Flagship's companies through to an IPO is usually toward the end of his involvement. He resigned as chairman of BG in August.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  11. Bob Lane: Deere & Co.
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    Bob Lane: Deere & Co.

    Who: Chief executive officer, Deere & Co. (DE), 2000-2009; chairman, 2000-2010
    Where: Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business
    What: Executive education instructor

    Lane was part of a team that opened Deere's first plant in China. As CEO, he led the company to increase revenue outside of North America to $7.96 billion in fiscal year 2009, up from $5.55 billion in 2004. Lane's students at Tuck are primarily executives from North American and European companies that are expanding into emerging markets for the first time.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  12. Mary Ann Leeper: Female Health Co.
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    Mary Ann Leeper: Female Health Co.

    Who: Chief operating officer, Female Health Co. (FHCO), 1996-2006
    Where: University of Virginia's Darden School of Business
    What: Adjunct professor in social responsibility and entrepreneurship

    The Female Health Co. makes the female condom, a form of contraception worn by women that also prevents against the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. During Leeper's tenure as COO, the publicly traded company increased revenue to $14.8 million in 2006 from $2.1 million in 1996. She says a key to bringing in revenue was forming partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help the company's product get wider distribution in areas such as Washington, D.C., and Johannesburg, South Africa. Says Leeper: "My class gives students a broad perspective on how they can make a social contribution and still make money."

    Photographer: Jim Carpenter
  13. Condoleezza Rice: U.S. State Dept.
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    Condoleezza Rice: U.S. State Dept.

    Who: Secretary of State, 2005-2009
    Where: Stanford University's Graduate School of Business
    What: Professor of political economy

    Rice co-teaches the class "Crisis Management on the World Stage" with former U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Labour Party politician David Miliband. "I loved to see how they sparred. She has a more conservative philosophy and he was pretty liberal," says 2012 MBA candidate Valerie Villarreal, who took the class. "They were very candid in their personal views and there wasn't a question she shied away from. They would have an honest debate."

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  14. Steven Reinemund: PepsiCo
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    Steven Reinemund: PepsiCo

    Who: Chief executive officer, PepsiCo (PEP), 2001-06; chairman, 2001-2007
    Where: Wake Forest University's Schools of Business
    What: Dean of business, professor of leadership and strategy

    Reinemund increased gross profit at PepsiCo each year during his tenure as CEO. Profit reached $19.38 billion in fiscal year 2006, up from $12.76 billion in fiscal year 2001. He says the highlight of his time at Wake has been overseeing the development of an ethics center.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  15. Stephen Roach: Morgan Stanley
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    Stephen Roach: Morgan Stanley

    Who: Non-executive chairman, Morgan Stanley
    Where: Yale School of Management
    What: Senior lecturer

    From 1982 to 2007, Roach was Morgan Stanley's chief global economist. His most valuable piece of career advice for students is to take a first job where they "learn the very basic tools to understand markets." Roach teaches classes on macroeconomics, China's economy, and economic theory in Japan.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  16. Jeff Zucker: NBC Universal Media
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    Jeff Zucker: NBC Universal Media

    Who: Chief executive officer, NBC Universal Media, 2005-2011
    Where: Columbia Business School
    What: Executive in residence

    Zucker is often sought out by Columbia students who are interested in new media and digital technology. As a former executive, Zucker says he has an eye for what companies are looking for when they hire newly minted MBAs. Much of the interaction he has with students is related to career development, he says.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  17. Andy Grove: Intel
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    Andy Grove: Intel

    Who: Chairman, Intel (INTC), 1997-2005
    Where: Stanford University's Graduate School of Business
    What: Lecturer in management

    Grove teaches "Strategy and Action in Information Technology" at Stanford. He immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1956. Grove co-founded Intel after five years as a researcher at Fairchild Semiconductor. He continues to serve Intel as a senior adviser.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  18. Paul Orfalea: Kinko's
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    Paul Orfalea: Kinko's

    Who: Founder and chairman, Kinko's
    Where: University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business
    What: Adjunct faculty

    Orfalea is most inspiring because of his ability to make smart business decisions while struggling with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, says his former student Sean Bandawat, a 2010 USC graduate. Bandawat says Orfalea is a reliable adviser for USC students who are interested in starting their own companies. Kinko's was acquired by FedEx in 2004 for $2.4 billion.

    Photographer: E. Charbonneau/Getty Images
  19. Steve Crowe: Chevron
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    Steve Crowe: Chevron

    Who: Chief financial officer, Chevron (CVX), 2005-2009
    Where: University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business
    What: Executive fellow

    Crowe was CFO at Chevron when the company purchased Unocal for about $20 billion in 2005. At the time, Unocal received a surprise offer from a Chinese oil company and Crowe says closing the deal was the highlight of his career. Haas named Crowe an executive fellow in 2010, a few months after opening an energy institute at the school.

    Photo Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley
  20. Robert Essner: Wyeth
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    Robert Essner: Wyeth

    Who: Chairman, Wyeth, 2003-2008
    Where: Columbia Business School
    What: Adjunct professor, executive in residence

    Before Pfizer's acquisition of Wyeth in 2009, Essner says he had a front-row seat to the pharmaceutical industry's shift from selling simple, mass-market drugs to selling very complex products to smaller groups of customers. Pharmaceutical marketing is much more of a product management role now than it is a traditional marketing role, and students interested in the industry must be aware of a variety of regulatory issues, he says. Essner most recently taught a class on "strategy and competition in the pharma industry." He also recently advised the Carlyle Group's health-care unit on its purchase of NBTY, a maker of nutritional supplements, he says.

    Photographer: Bloomberg

  21. Cie Nicholson: Equinox Fitness Clubs
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    Cie Nicholson: Equinox Fitness Clubs

    Who: Chief marketing officer, Equinox Fitness Clubs
    Where: Indiana University's Kelley School of Business
    What: Leader-in-residence

    Before Equinox, Nicholson led marketing at a Bay Area startup and prior to that worked in marketing at PepsiCo. She says students most often ask her to describe how she executed each of her career transitions—from large public company, to startup, to private company. She lectures at her alma mater and says the connection she has with students is that they look at her and know "that I used to be sitting in that chair."

    Photo Courtesy of Indiana University
  22. Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Universa Investments
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    Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Universa Investments

    Who: Principal adviser, Universa Investments; author of The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness
    Where: Polytechnic Institute of New York University
    What: Distinguished professor of risk engineering

    Taleb is the co-director of the Research Center for Risk Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He previously co-managed the black-swan hedge fund Empirica Capital, which he founded.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  23. Neil Braun: Viacom Entertainment
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    Neil Braun: Viacom Entertainment

    Who: Chief executive officer, Viacom Entertainment (VIA), 1988-94; president, NBC Television Network, 1994-98
    Where: Pace University's Lubin School of Business
    What: Dean, guest lecturer

    Braun joined a growing list of former executives tapped to run business schools when he was named dean of Pace University's Lubin School of Business in June 2010. (Former CEO of Quest Diagnostics (DGX) Kenneth Freeman is dean of Boston University's School of Management, and former Pepsico (PEP) CEO Steve Reinemund is dean at Wake Forest University's Schools of Business.) Braun also flits in and out of the classroom as a guest lecturer. He says he has his most rapt audience any time the discussion topic is M&A negotiations. During his time at Viacom, the company bought Blockbuster and Paramount Pictures. "Students hang on every word when you can tell them what was really going on," he says of those deals.

    Photographer: Jermal Countess/Getty Images
  24. Kenneth Freeman: Quest Diagnostics
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    Kenneth Freeman: Quest Diagnostics

    Who: Chairman and chief executive officer, Quest Diagnostics (DGX), 1997-2004
    Where: Boston University School of Management
    What: Dean, professor

    Freeman is the third B-school dean on our list to have an executive background. As CEO of Quest Diagnostics, he increased revenue to $5.13 billion in 2004 from $1.53 billion in fiscal year 1997.

    Photographer: Bloomberg
  25. Michael Crooke: Patagonia
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    Michael Crooke: Patagonia

    Who: Chief executive officer, Patagonia, 1995-2005
    Where: Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business & Management
    What: Professor in eco-entrepreneurship

    Crooke aims to teach students how to become profitable by being environmentally conscious. At Patagonia, he oversaw a campaign called the Common Threads Initiative, where the company recycled clothing to produce new textiles and cut material costs by 20 percent to 25 percent, he says.

    Photographer: Ron Hall/Pepperdine

  26. Melissa Reiff : The Container Store
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    Melissa Reiff : The Container Store

    Who: President, The Container Store
    Where: Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business
    What: Lecturer on leadership

    Reiff says she tells students how important thoughtful, practical, and courteous communication is to being a leader. Reiff also lectures about a "commitment to execution with excellence," and uses the Container Store as an example. "We have to care more than others and have an 'everything matters' attitude," she says. "Even the scents of the soaps in our store bathrooms matter, the little piece of paper on the store floor that needs to be picked up matters. Everything matters. It's an attitude."

    Photographer: Getty Images