Krista Hill Cummings
Assistant Professor of Marketing
At just 33, Krista Hill Cummings of Babson College is one of the youngest professors on this year’s list of Best Undergraduate Business School Professors. While she only began teaching in 2016, Hill Cummings has already published more than a dozen journal articles and book chapters. She also comes highly recommended by many of her current and former students.
Like many others on this year’s list Hill Cummings wasn’t always going to be a business professor. She first realized she wanted to be a business professor as a graduate student studying psychology when she discovered how much psychology played a role in business. So she literally walked to the business school at Northeastern University and started taking MBA courses. And “the rest is history,” she says.
Current age: 33
At current institution since what year? 2016
- Ph.D. in Psychology from Northeastern University
- BS in Psychology from Northeastern University
List of courses you currently teach:
- Consumer Behavior
- Marketing Research
- Services Marketing
- Communicating for Consumer Behavior Change
LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was in graduate school for psychology and realized it played such an important role in business. At that point I literally (and I mean literally) walked myself over to the business school and asked to take some MBA courses to compliment my psychology courses. I met a few fantastic business professors who became mentors and the rest is history.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
My research background is in services marketing with a focus on consumer-provider communication. Specifically, I am interested in the factors that render marketing messages such as apologies more effective. In this line of work, I discovered the importance of addressing the consumer’s emotional state through active listening or acknowledgment before offering an apology or recovery. If a provider does not address the consumer’s state first, the service recovery offered is often ignored or misinterpreted.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… A travel agent…I love exploring new places and sharing my love of travel with others.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
My interdisciplinary approach. To me, it is so important for students to be able to apply the knowledge they gain in my class to multiple contexts. When students take a class with me they know they will be synthesizing ideas and methodologies from various fields. At Babson, I have created projects that bridge marketing, health-care, psychology, poetry, and even theatre.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Exciting!
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Grading won’t be fun, but thoughtful, action-oriented feedback is incredibly valuable for students.
Professor I most admire and why: I have been lucky enough to have several fantastic mentors including Dhruv Grewal, Anne Roggeveen, and Lauren Beitelspacher. I admire all of them for their dedication to their students as well as their important contributions to research. They have all been incredibly supportive of me and I was thrilled when they invited me to work with them at Babson College.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I love when students apply what they learned outside of the classroom.
What is most challenging?
When students value grades more than learning.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Hard-working
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Indifferent
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… A cheerleader! While I am a tough grader, I focus on what students did well and what actions they can take to continuously improve.
LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies?
I love to travel, hike, and go to comedy shows.
How will you spend your summer?
Chasing my two little ones around the yard while planning for the exciting, but very different semester we will have in the Fall of 2020.
Favorite place(s) to vacation:
So difficult to choose a favorite, but some of my happiest memories are from Italy. I studied abroad in Florence and returned years later and got engaged. More recently, my entire family flew to Tuscany to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday with lots of wine, pasta, and laughter.
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (Thaler and Sunstein) and Predictably Irrational (Ariely).
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
Nothing makes me laugh more than Tina Fey’s 30 Rock.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?
Anything I can dance to!
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… I believe we can’t solve complex real-world problems using a single disciplinary framework so I hope to see more interdisciplinary projects and courses.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion
I’m grateful for… A job that I love, curious students, fantastic colleagues, and my wonderful family.
Students, alumni, faculty, and administrators say:
“As a junior faculty member, Krista is quickly establishing herself as a leader in interdisciplinary teaching. This year, Krista developed two collaborative projects with liberal arts faculty to bridge the gap between marketing and the arts. In her Services Marketing course, students traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts with another professor’s Poetic Elegy course and viewed works of art together from different disciplinary lenses. Krista’s students then developed service innovations and presented them to Museum of Fine Arts’ employees. In the Spring, Krista developed a module around consumer expectations and how they affect the experience and evaluation of services. She presented this module to her Consumer Behavior course and a theater professor’s Staging Immigration course. This module cumulated in a field trip to see West Side Story on Broadway (along with its marketing team) and a project where all students reflected on their expectations of Broadway and how these expectations influenced their subsequent experiences. For both collaborations, students were surveyed about their experience. The response was outstanding, students consistently reported their learning was enhanced by the collaboration, that the interdisciplinary experiences were some of the most memorable at Babson, and that they hoped to see more interdisciplinary projects in the future. In addition to these innovative courses, Krista is beloved by her students. She continues to bring energy and enthusiasm and innovation to her classes every day, regardless of if they are in person or online.”
“Krista is an outstanding professor. She is always the first to come up with innovation for the classroom and new, interesting challenges for her students. In her Services Marketing course, students traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts with Mary Pinard’s Poetic Elegy course and viewed works of art together from different disciplinary lenses. Krista’s students then developed service innovations and presented them to MFA employees. Students were impacted greatly but Krista taking them into the field and applying their learnings to an experiential project. When COVID-19 struck and our institution decided to move online Krista’s innovation really shone through. She was interacting with her students in multiple ways including through WhatsApp and more. She brought consumer behavior to them in their homes and made her content relevant to students as they faced the pandemic from all over the world. As a colleague Krista is phenomenal she has proven to be a leader both in the classroom and outside. She and I have collaborated on numerous projects and she always has interesting ideas and is always creative and hardworking. I believe that Krista is absolutely deserving of this award and I am happy to speak about her qualifications further.”
“Krista Hill Cummings is an amazing member of the Marketing Division at Babson College. She has spearheaded two unique efforts for interdisciplinary teaching. Her Services Marketing course combined with a poetry class to provide the Museum of Fine Arts with innovative marketing. Krista’s Consumer Behavior class shared West Side Story with a class on Immigration. Both efforts created a learning outcome for students that was unique, powerful and beneficial. This approach to interdisciplinary teaching will benefit students for years to come. Krista is an amazing teacher! She truly deserves to be recognized as one of Poets & Quants Top Undergraduate Professors!”
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