2017 Top 40 Undergraduate Professors: Joe Redden, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Joe Redden

Associate Professor of Marketing

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

If he had his way, Joe Redden, a marketing professor at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, says business schools of the future would practice actually performing real-world marketing tasks instead of focus on terminology one can easily Google if needed. To help move things along, Redden developed an undergraduate course void of textbooks, readings, exams, or cases. Rather, students in this Marketing in Action course are given a real marketing problem. Under his coaching, they work to develop and present a recommendation as they would inside of a workplace setting.

In addition to helping students acquire actionable and analytical marketing perspectives, Professor Redden is prolific in academic research. His areas of focus — how to help consumers extract more enjoyment without changing the product, how to reduce consumer boredom, and how to encourage (and enjoy) healthier eating — recently earned him a “most promising scholars in marketing” designation by the Marketing Science Institute and a faculty research award from Carlson. The business school has also recognized him with two faculty teaching awards while he’s also a five-time finalist for BusinessWeek’s Faculty of the Year designation.

Age: 46

At current institution since: 2006

Education: BBA in Accounting, Univ. of Kentucky, 1994; BS in Computer Science, Univ. of Kentucky, 1994; MBA, Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, 1998; Ph. D. in Marketing, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, 2006

List of courses currently teaching: Marketing-In-Action: Marketing Practicum, Marketing Management

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up in a small town in Kentucky best known for two things: breeding race horses, and distilling whiskey

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I was working as a consultant and started to actually enjoy the marathon final presentations where we “taught” the client what we had found

“If I weren’t a business school professor…” I would try my luck at building models for sports gambling

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Finally

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? They have such a pure joy for marketing and a thirst for learning more

What is the biggest challenge that comes with teaching undergraduate business students? They often have little context for marketing concepts due to a lack of extensive work experience

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? I’ve had a few undergraduates start their own businesses – some with moderate success. I admire every single one of them because I fully appreciate the risks and workload required to pull this off

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Asked to move the test date because they had tickets to the Twins-Yankees game

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Show they not only understand the concepts, but also realize when to apply them in a spontaneous context

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Fair (I’ve gotten less than 10 complaints of any type in my life)

“But I would describe myself as …” Fair

What are your hobbies? Playing tennis, coaching youth sports, home projects

How did you spend your summer? Largely at the sports fields with my kids, with some time for a trip to the Boundary Waters and for getting a puppy

Favorite place to vacation: Any beach

Favorite book: Hillbilly Elegy

Favorite movie and/or television show: Breaking Bad

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Reggae

Bucket list item #1: Compete on the CBS show Survivor

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Launching the Atlas DMT division at startup named Avenue A, which was subsequently purchased by Microsoft and then Facebook to power their advertising business.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? An Engineering student told me at the end of the semester that he couldn’t believe that I actually made Marketing seem useful.

Professor you most admire and why: Prof. Jim Smith at Duke taught a Decision Making course that really stressed to me the importance of analysis in business. I still use some of the things I learned in that class, which speaks to the power of his stories, examples, and tools.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I’m looking at how consumers get bored with products, and finding that this happens largely to the extent people reflect on how much they’ve had something in the past. So, to combat this, marketers may benefit from encouraging mindless consumption, recognizing overall variety, and other strategies.

Twitter handle: N/A

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Practice actually performing real-world marketing tasks, e.g., setting a price or allocating an ad budget. This is analogous to how one can’t really become a tennis player if they don’t actually hit some balls on a court.

“And much less of this…” Focus on terminology one can easily Google if needed, and simplistic frameworks that don’t actually get one to the level of detail needed in an actual marketing setting.

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you: Each week, I get new word from a student that my course helped them to shine in their job.

Students say…

“He is the smartest professor I’ve encountered through my undergraduate experience at the Carlson School of Management. He was able to respond to complex questions, decomposing the question into manageable pieces and tackling all points through arguments supported by research. Professor Redden is the definition of a great researcher that is able to convey knowledge to students in class. He’s not only well-prepared for class, he is sharp, quick, inquisitive, and very respectful. He was able to bring to class real world application because he spend 8 years in the business world before becoming an academic. He’s had diverse experiences as a consultant and product management.”

“- He provided us with marketing strategy frameworks that I was able to put into use since day 1 after graduation; I still use them even today, 5 years after. I was able to spend one-on-one time during his office hours and he would devote his time to explain deep concepts to me. Another thing Iremember clearly was his succinct and minimalist slides (no background or fancy templates) with “pure” knowledge, in the best sense of the word; I still keep them.”

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