2020 Best Undergraduate Professors: Aleksander Aleszczyk, New York University Stern School of Business

Aleksander Aleszczyk of New York University’s Stern School of Business is a 2020 Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business School Professor.

Aleksander A. Aleszczyk

Assistant Professor of Accounting

New York University Stern School of Business

At just 29 years old, Aleksander Aleszczyk is the youngest professor included on this year’s list of Best Undergraduate Business School Professors. Aleszczyk started at New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2019 and teaches financial accounting to undergraduate students. Aleszczyk landed on this year’s list thanks to 16 thoughtful nominations from current and former Stern students and a perfect score on Rate My Professors.

“Professor Aleszczyk is one of the most dedicated professors that I’ve ever had,” one nominator said. “He led us through a lively and meaningful journey in the principle of financial accounting course. Not only because of his solid academic base and professionalism, but also the way he combined knowledge with real-life business cases that made dreadful accounting so funny and unforgettable. Professor Aleszczyk definitely is among the most prominent contenders in this competition.”

Outside of the classroom, Aleszczyk is a private pilot who also describes himself as a “foodie” and enjoys experiencing new cuisines.

Current age: 29

At current institution since what year? 2019

Education: Ph.D. in Accounting (London Business School), MPhil in Finance (University of Cambridge), BA in Economics and Finance, First Class Honors (University of Exeter)

List of courses you currently teach: Financial Accounting

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I learned that being a business school professor combines two things. First, I had realized very early on that analyzing corporate issues in great depth is fascinating. Then, I discovered the joy of teaching and presenting: explaining concepts to others, and observing how they grasp a new idea or even seeing a ‘eureka’ reaction in their eyes.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

My research interest focuses on debt capital markets, financial institutions, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as private equity. For instance, I am working with my co-authors to show that, as a by-product of an M&A transaction, the balance-sheet collateral space available to acquirers expands when targets’ assets are revalued.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… Most likely in financial services. I have a genuine interest in how financial markets work. Or I would pick up acting or stand-up comedy.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

Honestly, it is difficult to say, as I am surrounded by dedicated colleagues. When I teach, I am completely devoted to helping my students learn and develop their independent thinking. I like to heavily focus on the real-world application and to sneak in some relevant academic research. Overwhelming students with positive energy helps as well.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Jittery – a blend of anxiety and excitement.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:

I cannot stress this enough: this is a life-long learning profession. Your brain just cannot switch off. You constantly think about a new research idea, reflect on how to show or interpret existing results more convincingly. When it comes to teaching – is there any better way to introduce a concept? Would this case study be persuasive? Seven days a week.

Professor I most admire and why:

Professor Florin Vasvari, my Ph.D. advisor at London Business School, as he continues to invest tremendous effort and time into teaching his students how to succeed as business school academics. Without his mentoring I would not have achieved half of what I did.

TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

Being able to spark or further strengthen students’ interest in the business world.

What is most challenging?

In every class at Stern we have students from across the globe. A truly diverse group of bright people! So imagine attempts to create an inspiring learning environment, especially when students have varying degrees of experience and career objectives. Furthermore, accounting may not strike one as an exciting subject, so I additionally work to overcome this perception.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged!!!

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Insincere.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Strict but fair (I hope). 

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies?

I am a foodie who enjoys immersing myself in new cuisines and restaurants. I am a private pilot too. When on the ground, I like running and swimming.

How will you spend your summer?

Travel, hopefully.

Favorite place(s) to vacation:

A sunny beach.

Favorite book(s):

This is highly dependent on the mood. Primarily history books, often on international relations such as Diplomacy by Kissinger or light reading in the adventure spirit of Dumas.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?

Gordon Ramsay’s cookery shows – I systematically try to prepare most of his recipes.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

I have been hooked on Italian music for some time. I do not speak the language, but its melody has something magnetizing that helps me both to concentrate and relax.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…

Developing independent thinkers and leaders who are able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. They should have a diverse set of opinions, as there is rarely only one way to do something. Being in a hub or a financial center would help in bringing people, ideas, and capital together.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…

Communicating and collaborating with business professors. To illustrate, when preparing my PhD thesis, I persisted and was able to discuss my research findings with a dozen of C-level executives from S&P 500 firms and credit rating agencies. These opportunities sharpened my ideas and provided managers with an outsider’s view on their corporate financing policies. Such a dialogue allows us academics to better identify corporate issues that need solutions. The world develops at an incredible pace and collaboration permits to better embrace the change. 

I’m grateful for… All fabulous and supportive people I have met in my life.

Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say: 

“Professor Aleszczyk is one of the most dedicated professor that I’ve ever had. He led us through a lively and meaningful journey in the principle of financial accounting course. Not only because his solid academic base and professionalism, but also the way he combined knowledge to real life business cases that made dreadful accounting so funny and unforgettable. Professor Aleszczyk definitely is among the most prominent contenders in this competition.”

“I took Professor Aleszczyk’s Accounting class because I was required to, and he made it one I’ll always value. Professor Aleszczyk always made us laugh within the first two minutes of class. Even at 9:30 A.M., his enthusiasm eliminated any negative energy in the room. His love for accounting was so contagious that we were excited to learn. Through class, he encouraged participation and was inclusive of students’ ideas – incorrect answers were learning opportunities. Lessons were updated with the most recent accounting statements, and students were able to analyze companies like Tiffany&Co and IBM in their current states. Most importantly, he was accessible and understanding. Professor Aleszczyk responds to emails in record time and always makes time for students. He made me, a liberal-arts major with math anxiety, confident in my abilities and always connected the class back to my interests. Professor Aleszczyk deserves recognition for all that he does for students.”

“Professor Aleszczyk is one of the best professors I’ve ever had at NYU. He really inspires my interest in business and finance. Apart from technical knowledge, he introduces to us lots of case studies and extra financial knowledge. Through his lecturing, I really start to get a bit sense of how the real world business might look like. We looked at multiple financial reports from cooperation like Tiffany&Co. and Tesla etc. He also showed us some stock analysis and news in the real-world. Apart from being a lecture, he is also a tutor who instructs us future path of accounting study. Many thanks to him!”

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