A Lesson in Leadership: 2005 Class Day Faculty Winners

Four faculty members have been selected as 2005 Class Day Faculty Winners, honoring excellence in teaching: Joshua Margolis (RC), Francisco de Asis Martinez-Jerez (RC), Jan Rivkin (EC) and Youngme Moon (EC).
The honorees were selected via a student poll administered by Anand Devendran, a member of the Class of 2005 Class Day Committee. Devendran remarked, “HBS is a very busy place. This is an opportunity to step back and thank the professors, funneling the feelings [of gratitude] from the class and being able to let the professors know that we appreciate their efforts.”

Class Day, an opportunity for family and friends to get together on campus and celebrate, is Wednesday June 8. General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt is this year’s Class Day Speaker.

The award winners were selected using the following criteria:

1. Inspiration: Transfers passion for the subject matter to students.

2. Knowledge Transfer: makes difficult course material accessible to all students through clear explanations and demonstrated relevance.

3. Accessibility: available to students outside the classroom on a personal and professional basis.

4. Career Guidance: helps to identify industry contacts and evaluate potential career options.

5. Quality of Life: helps to improve the quality of life on campus.

6. Feedback: provides feedback that contributes to professional and personal development.

Francisco de Asis Martinez-Jerez (RC)
Assistant Professor, Accounting and Control

Walk into one of this professor’s accounting classes and you may think you are in the wrong place. There are no bored, glazed-over looks in this bunch. Instead, students are trying to get a word in edgewise as Professor Martinez-Jerez talks about how unhappy someone is named Luca. (Turns out Luca was a Franciscan monk name Fra Luca Pacioli.) Some think they know why. Martinez-Jerez calls out a name and the student makes her point. Martinez-Jerez counters and the whole section dissolves in laughter. Don’t they realize this is accounting, a subject many dread?

Walk into his office and it is clear he how much he enjoys teaching. Framed cases and class pictures are prominently displayed, signed by hundreds of students. Mention his students and his whole face lights up as he discusses the most recent class.

Professor Martinez-Jerez was out of the country as this issue went to press but the Harbus staff would like to congratulate him on his outstanding achievement.

Joshua Margolis (RC)
Assistant Professor, Organizational Behavior

For the second year in a row, Professor Margolis is being honored for his teaching skills.

“It is a privilege to teach here, to earnest students who truly want to learn and challenge themselves,” said Professor Margolis about teaching at HBS. “The students take the learning process very seriously, but they also have fun and are playful in a way that enhances the learning process.”

Margolis has taught the Leadership course for the past two years. There were, of course, multiple challenges; one is that “section mates need to trust one another to have conversations that will take them to unfamiliar territory. They need to build trust to do that,” explained Margolis.

What is the most rewarding part of the job? “Watching them grow and develop, both individually and as a section.”

Margolis emphasized that his most important message is “to thank the students.” They clearly feel the same way.

Jan Rivkin (EC)
Associate Professor, Strategy

Professor Rivkin was also being honored for the second year in a row; he taught the Advanced Competitive Strategy course. As was typical for the professors honored this year, Rivkin expressed his gratitude both to his colleagues and to the students. “The awards are really very humbling.”
Rivkin believed his biggest challenge was to change the students from pursuing “the right answer” to “asking the right questions. Our students get very good at making decisions with incomplete information, and that’s an extremely important skill. I also try to help the students develop the next logical skill: figuring out which gaps in their information are the most important and how they can fill those gaps.”

When asked, Rivkin had trouble picking just one thing that was most rewarding. “Where to begin? Our students are phenomenal – energetic, bright, caring…they’re willing to do anything that will help them learn. Plus, they go on to hold immensely influential positions, and that makes the work we do in our classrooms important. What more can you ask from your job than do important work?”

“We have an admissions department for our customers,” noted Rivkin. “How many jobs have an admission department for your customers?”
But, to Rivkin, the stars are really the students. “I feel that the recognition should go to the sections. If you have a great group and there are great group dynamics then there isn’t very much the prof can do to mess that up.”

Youngme Moon (EC)
Associate Professor, Marketing

For Professor Moon, winning this year’s teaching award was “a little bit of a surprise.” Interestingly, Moon does not view teaching as tiring but gains energy from her students. She leaves class “inspired and pumped up,” and quickly tries to record thoughts that the students inspired different ways to view her research. “We make each other better,” Moon said of her students.

Teaching is “not a one-way delivery, so much of it is a partnership with the students,” said Moon. Students “take their role seriously” and “feel equal responsibility” for the results. Moon also admires how her students “treat each other with respect, how carefully they listen to each other” and the fact that they are willing to “take risks in the classroom.”

Like the other 2005 winners, Moon is profoundly grateful for the experience. “I am incredibly lucky to be here – it is a great privilege,” she concluded.

May 9, 2005
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