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Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 3pm

Steve Ballmer Goes From Stanford GSB Dropout to Teacher: MBA News

Former microsoft CEO to teach at Stanford GSB

Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO, brought his intoxicating blend of passion and enthusiasm as a speaker to his newly-acquired Los Angeles Clippers basketball team this week.

And soon, MBA students at Stanford GSB and USC Marshall will also have the chance to get up close and personal with the man who repeatedly told the crowd at  Los Angeles’ Staples Center that the team he purchased for a record US$2 billion was going to be nothing short of ‘hardcore’.

USC Marshall graduates attending this year’s commencement ceremony have already heard Steve Ballmer’s insistence on the need to ‘be hardcore’ as one of his six key ingredients in the make-up of a successful leader.

But, who knows what’s in store for incoming students to Stanford GSB’s MBA class entitled ‘Leading Organizations’ - a new strategic management course that Steve Ballmer will lead in collaboration with Stanford GSB faculty member, Susan Athey, and an example of the school’s aim to pair academics with practitioners in MBA teaching.

Steve Ballmer’s decision to move into teaching at Stanford GSB sees the former Microsoft CEO return to the elite US school’s campus some 34 years after he dropped out of Stanford GSB to team up with his Harvard classmate at undergraduate level, Bill Gates, at Microsoft – then merely a small startup.

Stint at USC Marshall to follow retired Microsoft CEO’s Stanford GSB class 

Although he has since returned to Stanford GSB (as well as appearing at USC Marshall and other leading business schools) to address students, September’s class represents an altogether different challenge for Steve Ballmer, as he has been fully-involved in designing the course together with Athey –  someone with whom Ballmer has worked in the past, having hired her as an economics consultant for a Microsoft project in 2007.

“It's a course that looks at lots of different perspectives on a CEO's role on creating value in an organization,” Athey told Business Insider, before adding that Ballmer’s intensity and vast experience should have much to offer MBA students:

“The fact he was at Microsoft when it was a small company and he had many leadership roles from the early days, watching the company grow... I think it's going to be terrific to get this interaction between Steve and the students,” she said.

Details about Steve Ballmer’s spring semester class at USC Marshall have yet to be released but, for now, it seems that yesterday’s decision to step down from Microsoft’s board and complete his retirement from the software giant will allow him to fully channel his energy into the MBA classroom – and basketball.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).