The world business leaders teaching at the top b-schools |

The world business leaders teaching at the top b-schools

By Laura L

Updated December 15, 2022 Updated December 15, 2022

From guest speakers to mentors and entrepreneurs in residence, industry experts provide a business school curriculum with significant insight and experience, bringing to life the business theory and frameworks taught to the next generation of leaders.  

With a lifetime of expertise and a wealth of stories to share, industry experts are invaluable for improving students’ understanding of the professional climate. If they’re still working in a professional setting, they can provide critical learning on the current trends and challenges facing their field, enabling lively discussion and debate in the classroom. spoke to four business leaders teaching at some of the top business schools in the world, to find out what they bring to the table.  

The thought leader in social innovation 

Alberto Alemanno is professor of law and public policy at HEC Paris, which ranks fourth in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2023. Alongside teaching business students at the school, Professor Alemanno also founded The Good Lobby, a social change enterprise committed to equalising access to power by helping non-profits advocate for their causes while rendering corporate lobbying more responsible. For this, he was named Global Thought Leader in Social Innovation by the Schwab Foundation in 2022, Ashoka Fellow and Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.    

At HEC Paris, Professor Alemanno teaches and conducts research into the relationship between businesses and government, something he says is a foundational yet neglected topic in business education in Europe.  

“Most business students don’t necessarily understand the bigger picture defining how business takes place within society. So, my legal background and my interest in public policy provide a different window for students to look at the changing role that businesses play,” he said.  

As a world leader, Professor Alemanno feels his role at the interface of social innovation aids his students’ learning by “creating a different perspective to teaching and research. It allows me to look at the world with a new lens, one that’s driven by serving a societal need and working with different stakeholders to maximise value but also to serve the planet and to serve people. That’s what I bring to the classroom.” 

According to Professor Alemanno, academics should no longer be simply knowledge providers but living role models, prompting social change through unconventional methods. He said, “academics must have credibility not only by sharing insights from the course literature and from research, but to come with their own experiences and stories. That’s a new expectation, especially among MBA and executive business students. It’s inescapable within a business education context.”  

The socially conscious and sustainable consultant 

Dr Catherine Tilley worked as a management consultant for twenty years before lecturing in sustainable business at King’s Business School. She also holds the role of responsible business lead, developing social and environmental projects to reach the school’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).   

“In a real planetary emergency, I chose to teach sustainable business because I believe education has a critical role in any change,” Dr Tilley said. “We have to learn something new to be able to act in a different way. I hope that I can play my part in helping business leaders to create a better world.”  

As a consultant, Dr Tilley has experienced a broad career working on various problems with organisations around the world. She’s an expert in communicating data-intensive presentations, persuading companies to engage in her ideas, running multiple projects at once and working collaboratively with a diversity of people.  

As an industry-led teacher, she’s able to foresee how the concepts she brings to the classroom can work in practise. “Business is a practical field, so it’s helpful for me to show how the things I’m teaching are relevant to the students’ careers by using my own experiences,” she said.  

“Many of my students aspire to have the type of career that I’ve had myself, so I can help them think about the skills they're going to need.” 

While Dr Tilley feels she can’t always bring the deep theoretical knowledge to her subjects, she can contribute the practical thinking around what a professional could do with the ideas being discussed in class. She said: “I really enjoy working with academics with a more traditional academic background, because I’m a strong believer in learning from diverse experiences and multidisciplinary teams.”   

The CEO and angel investor 

Cedric Donck is professor of entrepreneurship at Vlerick Business School, as well as an entrepreneur, CEO and angel investor. Having founded a group of 16 digital marketing agencies and a number of other businesses, plus investing in around 100 start-ups in the tech industry, Donck is a valuable industry expert bringing a lifetime of experience to the classroom. 

Teaching alongside his career allows Donck to build his classes around the innovation taking place in his industry and to draw on his own experiences in real time. He said: “Having been involved in so many different business contexts, you start to see the commonalities and lines that run between all different shades of entrepreneurships and business.  

“More often than not, students at business school interact with content and case-studies, but in my classes I can highlight real examples that I’ve experienced first-hand. It’s not an abstract textbook study, the academic concepts are illustrated by live examples. 

“Through analysis and investigation, theory and academia give us models and frameworks from which we can derive strategy. But it’s the human element that’s most important for my side of things; whether the strategies will succeed, how the actual operations will occur on an individual level.” 

Like Dr Tilley, Donck believes that the future of business education is one where the experience of professors is just as diverse as the cohort of students.  

He said: “I have learnt a lot from my more academically experienced colleagues, and I hope they have learnt a fair bit from me. The two styles of teaching are just as valuable, and understanding one is necessary to comprehending the other.” 

The global non-profit leader 

Sally Guyer is Global CEO of non-profit professional association, World Commerce & Contracting, which envisions a world where all trading relationships deliver both social and economic benefit.  

The organisation carries out extensive research, delivers training and certification programmes, hosts events and provides networking opportunities to over 70,000 global members. As CEO, Guyer provides strategic guidance to her team around the world, as well as raising awareness of the organisation by presenting at conferences and public events.  

Alongside her busy work schedule, Guyer is a professor in practice at Durham University Business School and says that the business world has a lot to learn from academia. “Academics produce many of the fundamental breakthroughs that lead to world-changing impact. Practitioners can teach practical skills and industry trends. With the right balance of both, we can produce well-rounded and capable students.” 

As the CEO of a non-profit, Guyer sees herself as a purpose-driven individual, aspiring to make the world a better place through the work she does both in industry and in teaching. “At work, we talk about wanting to make the world a better place one contract at a time. We can do the same with students, making the world a better place one student and business leader at a time. 

“I love to bring news and fresh ideas to students, to give them a sense of the art in what’s possible. I presented to students recently about the creation of a comic contract for semi-literate and illiterate farm workers in South Africa which led the farm workers to feel valued, cared for and respected by the company that employs them. It inspires students to look beyond the limits of what’s possible. 

“Ultimately employers today are looking for students with a wide variety of skills beyond pure academic prowess. I think one of the greatest opportunities students have is to learn from other people, hearing from practitioners and business executives. I have learned so much in my 25 plus years of working in corporates, start-ups and for myself that I’m so keen for others to benefit from it.” 

This article was originally published in December 2022 .

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