Family and transgenerational businesses have been a piece of the lifeblood of the American and global economies for generations now. Matt Allen, who grew up working in the family business with his father as an accountant has dedicated his teaching career to transgenerational businesses and entrepreneurship. A professor in Babson’s Entrepreneurship Division, Allen is also recently served as the Faculty Director for the Institute for Family Entrepreneurship, and Academic Director for the Global Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) Project.
Allen became a professor after leaving his position as a financial analyst when he realized he “enjoyed teaching and mentoring others much more” than he actually enjoyed financial analysis. Allen’s current research is focused on how business-owning families instill entrepreneurship in the next generation. Interestingly, Allen’s research has found that this happens in the home rather than the actual business. “Specifically, the way in which parents raise their children can have a significant impact on their desire and ability to become entrepreneurs later in life,” he says.
Current age: 47
At current institution since what year? 2011
Education: BS Accounting – University of Utah, MBA – University of Notre Dame, Ph.D. – Cornell University
List of courses you currently teach:
Family Entrepreneurship Amplifier
Entrepreneurship and Opportunity
LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was working as a financial analyst at IBM and realized that I enjoyed teaching and mentoring others much more than I enjoyed the actual financial analysis.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
My current research looks at how business-owning families instill entrepreneurship in the next generation. One significant discovery from this research is that entrepreneurship in the next generation depends on what happens inside the home, not the family business. Specifically, the way in which parents raise their children can have a significant impact on their desire and ability to become entrepreneurs later in life.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… A long-haul truck driver. I love to be on the road and see new places.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I love what I teach and truly believe that it can change the lives of my students and their families. Because of this I am thrilled when my students are as excited about the topics as I am.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Jittery
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That you will never be successful trying to copy how others teach. You have to figure out your own way.
Professor I most admire and why: Clayton Christensen – He had the unique ability to make you feel loved and important when you were in his presence.
TEACHING BUSINESS STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I enjoy the fact that in a few short years my students will be applying what they are learning in the real world.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: curious
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: arrogant
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… fair
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids and just about anything outdoors including fly fishing, camping, hiking, kayaking etc.
How will you spend your summer?
This year I will spend most of my summer preparing for the unknown that will be our fall semester in the current pandemic.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Favorite book(s): Endurance by Alfred Lansing
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? All of the Lord of the Rings movies because good prevails in the end and they remind me of how much I enjoyed reading the books.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?
I love to listen to movie soundtracks, mostly instrumental because I can listen to it while I work without getting distracted.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… practical application
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… understanding the human side of work
I’m grateful for… my family and my faith
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“Professor Allen helps students – and their families – learn how to manage the intricacies of successfully leading a family-based business. Matt created a family business club and a unique course centered on the family unit – not the family business – to create togetherness and family understanding. He has also built a one-of-a-kind program that brings parents and together with their high school-aged kids helping families engage in entrepreneurship. In all of his work, Matt takes the best approaches from sociology, psychology, and the study of families to help inter-generational businesses succeed across all dimensions not just financial. He received the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence last year for his efforts. His recently authored Harvard Business Review article explains his relational approach to preparing family businesses for future leadership transitions by developing a shared meaning of common events and a focus on family to allow the family and business to thrive.”
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