New York University Stern School of Business
Social media and live streaming aren’t all bad. That’s the upshot of 34-year-old Alixandra Barasch’s recent research.
“I study how new technology (e.g., social media, live streaming) is re-shaping consumer experiences, and I’ve discovered that the pessimistic outlook that technology is destroying interpersonal interaction is often overblown,” the Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business says. “Contrary to popular belief, my research finds that behaviors like taking photos or texting during experiences can actually improve people’s enjoyment and sense of engagement.”
Barasch joined Stern’s marketing faculty in 2016 and has quickly become one of the department’s most popular professors, earning dozens of recommendations from current and former students. Barasch says if she could change the way things happen at business schools, she’d add more experiential learning. “Empowering students can often be a win-win, and experiencing lessons firsthand really makes them stick,” Barasch says.
Current age: 34
At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: Ph.D. in Marketing from Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania; BS in Psychology from Duke University, summa cum laude
List of courses you currently teach: Introduction to Marketing (Undergrads), Behavioral Applications in Marketing (PhDs)
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I realized that in this job, I don’t just have to learn existing answers. I can push the envelope by asking my own research questions and creating new knowledge.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
I study how new technology (e.g., social media, live streaming) is re-shaping consumer experiences, and I’ve discovered that the pessimistic outlook that technology is destroying interpersonal interaction is often overblown. Contrary to popular belief, my research finds that behaviors like taking photos or texting during experiences can actually improve people’s enjoyment and sense of engagement.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… Doing something similarly nerdy, like working in education research or policy. I also daydream about being an event planner: socializing and organizing are a big part of who I am.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I’ve been told that my enthusiasm in the classroom is contagious. I get really excited about sharing ideas, and I like to create conditions that motivate my students to learn. One way is by showing just how universally those ideas can be applied: firm concerns aside, marketing concepts can help students understand themselves, where they fit into the world, and how to position themselves to achieve their own unique goals.
One word that describes my first time teaching: invigorating
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:
That you can be yourself. I got a lot of advice about specific teaching styles while preparing my first class. But in the end, I just let my own personality shine through. I would tell a new professor not to try to be someone that they’re not (e.g., don’t worry about seeming “tough” if you are naturally warm and approachable). I’ve learned through experience that treating students with kindness and respect has lots of upside, like a more generative class environment and lasting connections with many of them.
Professor I most admire and why:
Professor John Lynch, my academic grandfather (my advisor’s advisor). He chooses his research questions carefully, has the patience to pursue them the right way, and finds ways to build bridges between researchers and practitioners where none existed before. Exactly the sort of scholar I aspire to be!
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
How varied their backgrounds and interests are. Some students come to my class having taken only business classes, and already have a great deal of practical work experience; others come from liberal arts and science backgrounds and want to use marketing concepts to push their arts, media, or engineering pursuits to the next level. There is so much collective knowledge in the classroom, and I get a rush learning from my students too.
What is most challenging?
The never-ending task of keeping my teaching materials up to date. Even though there are some enduring principles, business practice is constantly changing, so what students need to know and what employers are seeking is also constantly evolving. I put a lot of effort into incorporating new research findings and current business examples into my lessons, but it can be hard to keep up.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: curious
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: disruptive
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… The classic “tough but fair.” I am always available to explain my evaluations, but they are not negotiable. Some students are surprised by how seriously I take the “participation” component of their grade: they don’t just get credit for showing up, but must also contribute positively to the learning environment to do well.
LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies?
Dancing of every sort, cooking new recipes, themed parties, and dogs, dogs, and more dogs.
How will you spend your summer?
Sunshine and research. And learning French on the side.
Favorite place(s) to vacation:
Wherever I have friends to visit! Some recent favorites: Iceland, Hong Kong/Macau, and Patagonia.
Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
GLOW and Better Call Saul for the depth of humanity and psychological insight they demonstrate in depicting character development and personal relationships.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?
Anything I can dance to: Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, and everything in between.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Experiential learning and “flipped classrooms.” Empowering students can often be a win-win, and experiencing lessons firsthand really makes them stick.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Being more far-sighted. Maximizing future success often requires making some sacrifices in the present. And in the long run, doing what’s best for consumers is often best for companies as well.
I’m grateful for… All the smart, interesting, and passionate people in my life. So many have inspired me to become a better version of myself, from my teachers to my family (many of whom are also educators).
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“Dr. Barasch was the first marketing professor I ever had and her class was the reason I continued taking marketing classes afterwards. She has an unparalleled ability to foster an inclusive and constructive class dialogue that enables students’ creativity and curiousity. In addition to her excellent job teaching the core principles of marketing, her research also underscores the fascinating and nuanced ways they apply to our everyday lives. Not only did I love having her as a professor, but she also recommended electives that I could take to further pursue my interests, which ultimately led me to the field I work in now. I am extremely grateful to have had her as a professor and would recommend her to anyone!”
“Dr. Barasch’s infectious passion for teaching coupled with her aptitude in the marketing field provided a learning experience I found not only enjoyable in the classroom but resourceful in the practical world. The amalgamation of projects and case studies under Dr.Barasch not only effectively enhanced my creativity and critical thinking capabilities but also positively challenged me to utilize marketing under real applications. Perhaps the greatest impact of Dr.Barasch is her approachable persona that catalyzes classroom participation and encourages constructive discussion, while her abilities to enrich course material through supplements of her individual research and to quantify with data seemingly qualitative topics empowered my learning. Showcasing Dr.Barasch’s dedication through a personal anecdote, she was the first professor to proactively send me resources about a topic I was curious about in class, and genuinely sparked my fascination with the prevalence and significance of marketing applications in real life. Dr.Barasch exemplifies the rare and special kind of professor who can dynamically enrich course curricula while never failing to bring enthusiastic spirit to class.”
“I took Intro to Marketing as an elective without any intention of pursuing it as a potential career path. Although I am still not entirely sure what I want to pursue, Professor Barasch has been an absolutely inspiring educator who has sparked my interest in learning more about marketing; I even plan to take another marketing course next semester. Despite the class being at 9:30 am, she approached her lessons with passion and excitement to teach and made lectures incredibly engaging, using media when necessary as well as easy to follow. I also tend to shy away from participating due to discomfort, but I was never was uncomfortable engaging with both her and the class content. She is truly a knowledgeable professor, and it is clear from the way she speaks. I nominate Professor Barasch as one of the best undergraduate professors and hope she receives a spot in the list. Thank You!”