2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Raji Srinivasan, University of Texas at Austin (McCombs)

Raji Srinivasan

Sam Barshop Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion

University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

McCombs School of Business professor, Raji Srinivasan, is a highly recognized and respected scholar in the field of marketing. Her research and expertise in the areas of marketing metrics and organizational innovation have earned her thousands of dollars in research grants and a handful of emerging scholar awards including being named the inaugural recipient of the American Marketing Association’s award for an emerging female marketing scholar and mentor and another award for early career contributions. Professor Srinivasan’s research excellence is matched inside the classroom where she is known as both a popular and effective educator. In the spring of last year she was named to McCombs’ undergraduate business program’s faculty teaching honor roll. This year, Professor Srinivasan took on a bit of a different challenge when she accepted the role to serve as the business school’s first-ever associate dean for diversity and inclusion.

Age: 58

Education: PhD, Marketing, Pennsylvania State University

At current institution since: 2000

List of courses you currently teach: Marketing Policy

What professional achievement are you most proud of? I am very proud when students who have been in my class reach out to me years after they have left school.

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I realized that I enjoyed considering deeper explanations of marketing phenomena.

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Tough (for the students)

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently researching consumers’ responses to brand harm crises caused by algorithm errors. The cool finding that we have is that consumers’ responses to crises caused by algorithm errors are actually less negative than their responses to crises caused by human errors! This is because they do not assign causality to algorithms, but to the humans who developed the algorithms!

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? As a professor, I have had several memorable moments. Most of these moments relate to when students get a difficult concept in the classroom for the first time. It is almost like a light bulb going off!

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? Since I first started teaching marketing in 2000, business education has changed both in content and the type of students we teach. Technology is now pervasive in marketing, resulting in the importance of social media in companies’ marketing strategies and analytics. The students I teach today are largely millennials, who are digital natives, and are different in their learning styles from previous cohorts.

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be…” Probably be an entrepreneur. I was an entrepreneur, running an advertising agency before I decided to go back to graduate school to do my PhD.

Name of the professor you most admire and why: Professor Sandy Leeds, a colleague at McCombs School of Business, who makes the most advanced finance concepts seem really simple to non-finance students. I admire his commitment to teaching and his students, both within and outside the classroom.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? They are young, open, and ready to take on the world, which provides me a wonderful teaching opportunity. It is very satisfying for me to be able to have such a strong influence on their smart, young students.

What’s the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge for me in the classroom in teaching marketing classes is keeping my classes relevant to students who leave McCombs to take marketing jobs in an ever-changing environment.

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? I have had students do many great things! The most impressive thing that one of my students did was to successfully start up a company, even as he was completing his undergraduate degree!

What is the least favorite thing one has done? As in undergraduate class, I have had my share of minor infractions.

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? Since I first started teaching marketing in 2000, business education has changed both in content and the type of students we teach. Technology is now pervasive in marketing, resulting in the importance of social media in companies’ marketing strategies and analytics. The students I teach today are largely millennials, who are digital natives, and are different in their learning styles from previous cohorts.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Depends on the class.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Tough, but fair.

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? Baz Luhrmann’s “Sunscreen”

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy

“If my students can think independently about marketing, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

What are your hobbies? Classical Indian Music, Religious History Buff

How did you spend your summer? I went to Oslo Norway, Scotland Ireland for work and leisure.

Favorite place to vacation: Southern Italy

Favorite book: I have many favorite books

Favorite movie and/or television show: The Big Lebowski

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Paul Simon

Bucket list item #1: Base Camp of Himalaya Mountains

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment? I think technology and its impact is a biggest challenge facing business education at the moment. We all know that e-learning will be a massive challenge, as well as a huge opportunity for business schools around the world. “MOOCs” (massive open online courses) are a reality, and e-learning could reshuffle the cards in a way that may well change the fate of a number of schools.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” More experiential learning, similar to the clinical experience that medical students have in medical school.

“And much less of this…” Memorization of concepts in textbooks.

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you: Looking ahead 10 years from now, success for me would be seeing my students continue to emerge as strong, well-trained, confident young managers, pursuing their passions.