Dean and Professor of Marketing
Hult International Business School
Momodou (Mo) Willan is an award-winning marketing professor and dean of Hult International Business School. Willan won the Professor of the Year award for the school’s undergraduate program every year between 2013 and 2018 and came highly recommended by dozens of current and former students. A native of Gambia, Willan has been at the Hult International Business School since 2013.
If Willan could change anything about the corporate world, he’d help it to understand and appreciate “that a handsome compensation package is not the major motivator for attracting young talent. Corporate values, care for the environment, and diversity are some of the critical factors that affect undergrads career choices, decisions, and destinations.”
At current institution since what year? 2013
Education: Chartered Marketer and Fellow – Chartered Institute of Marketing; MSc By Research Cranfield University School of Management; PGD in Education Oxford University; PhD ISM
List of courses you currently teach: Strategic Brand Management, Global Strategy, Principles of Marketing, Marketing Planning and Strategy and Senior Thesis
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I delivered a guest lecture masterclass whilst working in industry and received very positive feedback from the attendees
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
My research interest focuses on service quality in higher education institutions and the interesting discovery is the notable differences with regards to the factors that impact upon learners’ expectations, experiences and perceptions.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be a… management consultant.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
Appreciating and understanding my students as individuals, unapologetically challenging them to be the best they can possibly be and supporting them fervently during their academic and professional journeys.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Excited
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:
The very high levels of expectations from students in terms of preparing them for their futures. This can be a daunting responsibility but definitely one to cherish. My work as a professor is to train and prepare future business leaders and knowing that I have contributed towards this lofty ambition is indeed deeply gratifying and priceless.
Professor I most admire and why: Jack Hampton who supervised my Ph.D. thesis. He really challenged and supported me all through this journey.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
Their sense of curiosity and almost rebellious nature in challenging conventional theories and practices. Providing them the platform to work on live business challenges with real organizations as part of their course projects and then seeing them present their solutions to industry professionals makes them appreciate the currency and relevance of my courses and how it prepares them for their future careers. I make them believe very early on that I do not look at them as students but rather as future managers in the making and having them adopt and appreciate such a mindset.
What is most challenging?
Motivating them be the best versions of themselves and this does take time and requires patience. Being young undergrads, most are unsure of the right direction to follow and I consider it a critical part of my role as a professor to guide and support them. I believe very strongly that as professors, our role transcends beyond just imparting knowledge to students but should encompass showing empathy, understanding as well as inspiring them and making a really meaningful and positive impact on their young lives.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Motivated
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… very hard but always fair as I always provide comprehensive feedback on what they could have done to achieve a better grade.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Watching NBA basketball
How will you spend your summer? Traveling to my homeland The Gambia if the current restrictions are lifted.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Fez in Morocco – for its rich history, culture and traditions.
Favorite book(s): Nelson Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom – epitomizes selflessness for the greater good, capacity to forgive and reconcile and shows humanity at its best.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
Saturday Night Live because it makes me laugh so much!
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?
African Music especially Youssou Ndour from Senegal. His songs awaken social consciousness and he sings about everyday issues affecting people such as love, migration, corruption, marriage, etc.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this: Focus on building learners skills and enabling the practical application of learnt concepts by bringing in live companies into the classrooms as case studies. Knowledge not applied is knowledge wasted in my opinion. Live business case studies also makes the students appreciate the concepts and content learnt as they can clearly resonate with the value of this methodology and relate to its relevance in professional settings. This builds their confidence moving forward as future professionals.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at: understanding and appreciating that a handsome compensation package is not the major motivator for attracting young talent. Corporate values, care for the environment and diversity are some of critical factors that affect undergrads career choices, decisions and destinations.
I’m grateful for… working in a job that allows me to positively impact and change young lives by inspiring and supporting my students to achieve their personal and professional ambitions.
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“Like countless other students, Mo has been a transformative figure in my life. He was one of my first professors during my time as a lost freshman at Hult International Business School. Mo’s approach to teaching goes beyond the academics. He treats his students like future business leaders from day one. Despite being one of the most busy faculty members at our university, Mo has always managed to make the time for me whenever I needed him. His guidance enabled me to co-found the Hult Management Consulting Club, and win 1st place out of 17 teams in our university’s hallmark case competition. Very few in the world of academia match his authenticity and ability to deliver results. What ultimately differentiates him however, is his pure desire to help others grow. Any organization or community would be beyond fortunate to have Mo on-board. The time I spent learning under him flew by far too quickly, but Mo will always be a personal mentor and friend for life.”
“Professor Willan’s extraordinary commitment to the students and achievements within the school resulted in admiration and deep-rooted respect from the community. Mr. Willan manages to drive a vision by continually assessing the impact of actions and processes on the set initiative. His ability to think and act strategically was not compromised by managing operative processes. He was more than able and willing to support the students with detailed tasks while never losing sight of the big picture. Professor Willan’s teaching abilities within the classroom are exceptional. Academic rigor is a hallmark of Professor Willan yet, his passion for teaching, results in captivating classes which are interactive and very close to current events. Professor Willan is for many students the transformative professor they think back to during their time at university. This is underscored by his 7 awards as professor of the year. All of this was complemented by his extraordinary personality. He demonstrated extremely high levels of emotional intelligence and a willingness to share his profound knowledge. Despite his outstanding accomplishments, he practices humility professionally as a leader and in his personal life as a Philanthropic. Overall, Professor Willan is my real-life example of a 5/5 leader as described in Jim Collins Harvard Business Review article, demonstrating humility and fierce determination.”
“He’s an inspiration to all the students in school. He listens, understands, and makes necessary changes to provide a relevant real experience. Above all, he becomes a friend to every student and brings out the best.”
“Professor Mo is the epitome of a hard-working professor. He breaks down concepts in a way students can really connect with and understand. The sure thing with MO is that you will be pushed to your limits. He requires effort and excellence from every student. You will not like it at first but at the end of the process,you will be grateful for the transformation.”
“1. Excellent teaching style 2. Dedicated efforts towards helping each individual student succeed 3. Connection of class material to real-life business application”
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