Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship
University of North Carolina
Mahka Moeen didn’t know it at the time, but her teaching career began as an elementary school student.
“My 4th-grade teacher was probably the first to foresee this career path,” Moeen says. “One day, she couldn’t come to class. Instead of sending a substitute teacher, she had suggested that I solve that day’s math assignments on the board for the class.”
Forsightful, indeed. Moeen, who is an assistant professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is an award-winner, most notably earning the Emerging Scholar Award in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the Industry Studies Association. Not surprisingly, Moeen’s research focuses on startups and entrepreneurship.
“I study firms’ entry strategies into nascent industries, in particular to-be-industries that have not yet reached their first product commercialization milestone,” Moeen says. “My research often refers to them as industries in their incubation stage, meaning the period between a technological discovery and its first commercialization.”
Current age: 37
At current institution since what year? 2014
Education: Ph.D. in Management from University of Maryland
List of courses you currently teach: Strategic Management
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I don’t know exactly when I knew that I wanted to be a professor, but my 4th-grade teacher was probably the first to foresee this career path. One day, she couldn’t come to class. Instead of sending a substitute teacher, she had suggested that I solve that day’s math assignments on the board for the class.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
I study firms’ entry strategies into nascent industries, in particular to-be-industries that have not yet reached their first product commercialization milestone. My research often refers to them as industries in their incubation stage, meaning the period between a technological discovery and its first commercialization. Here is a summary: https://youtu.be/YhPUrutsOGY
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… My undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering, so that’s one possibility. If I were to consider another graduate degree, I might have been a lawyer.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
My philosophy is that teachers and students learn together, and that the classroom is my opportunity to learn as much from my students as they do from me.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: Textbook
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Teaching is not about reviewing a pre-defined list of topics from a textbook. The business world is dynamic, and so should be the class.
Professor I most admire and why: In the business profession, the one and only Rajshree Agarwal is a deep thinker, an outstanding scholar, an inspirational teacher, and an extremely generous and kind mentor. In the pre-business profession, Mrs. Haerizadeh and her team raised a generation of fearless girls in my high school. These professors have helped me become who I am.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Our students’ energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity
What is most challenging? Grading
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Open-minded
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Disengaged
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… detailed comments and contingency factors. In business classes, there is rarely a right answer. There are always contingencies that play out.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Reading, listening to books
How will you spend your summer? Staying at home, we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Historical monuments, and mountains
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… experiential learning, and unstructured problem-solving.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… embracing change.
I’m grateful for… the health and kindness of my family and friends.
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“A top scholar, Mahka studies the co-evolution of entrepreneurial firms and nascent industries. She leverages that expertise to infuse an entrepreneurial mindset into the core Business Strategy course. When she suddenly had to take it online, she used a variety of creative delivery methods that many students found them even better than traditional ones. She is lauded for being incredibly caring, but also professional and firm; and using engaging, fresh and relevant cases and examples in her course. Students say she is engaging in class and adeptly encourages participation. One wrote: “She encouraged us to think critically and appreciated everyone’s input. Even with most of the course being online, she was still able to develop connections with students and make the course effective, but not overwhelming.””