New York University, Stern School of Business
“Prof. Bhatia has been teaching entrepreneurship in the most engaging way possible. During class, laptops remain closed. He created an intimate atmosphere where students from all backgrounds could exchange their thoughts on start-up successes and failures, Design Thinking, key competencies of a promising co-founding team,etc. He had a tremendous impact on myself, helping me to overcome my fear of uncertainty that naturally accompanies becoming an entrepreneur. He took extra time to counsel me on career and personal issues, for what I am incredibly grateful for. Prof. Bhatia would be the first Professor I would invite to have a beer with and philosophize about how we can shape the future.” – Julius Ritter
Ashish Bhatia, 41, is Academic Director of the B.S. in Business, Technology, and Entrepreneurship Program and Clinical Associate Professor of Management & Entrepreneurship at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
He developed and leads NYU Stern’s Business, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (BTE) program, a new type of undergraduate degree. One of BTE’s defining features is a first-year experiential learning experience with a Design Sprint and Data Sprint where students learn by engaging with companies on real challenges. He also developed and teaches NYC Entrepreneurship Lab, an experiential class pairing students with startups.
TheFounderChallenge.org, founded and led by Bhatia, is a resource supporting student entrepreneurs and advancing his research-based teaching approach leveraging a spectrum of entrepreneurial methods.
His research has appeared in Harvard Business Review and in the Academy of Management and has appeared on media outlets MSNBC and Bloomberg.
At current institution since what year? 2016
- Alumnus of NYU Stern’s Undergraduate College
- Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University
- Doctorate in Education from the University of Pennsylvania with research focused on entrepreneurship education.
List of Undergraduate courses you teach:
- Entrepreneurship: Mindset & Action
- BTE Entrepreneurship Immersion
- NYC Entrepreneurship Lab
- Professional Responsibility & Leadership
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…I realized the impact and engagement I could have with people. I got a glimpse of this when I initiated and led the first ever Executive Program in Gold Reserves Management in partnership with UC Berkeley. In my role at the World Gold Council, I found that global policy makers wanted to better understand gold as a reserve asset and that by creating an engaging curriculum with experts around the world, we could help solve this challenge in a way that could have a meaningful impact for global economies. After the first day of the first program, I was hooked on the impact potential of business education.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My recent research has focused on understanding the different philosophical approaches to entrepreneurship. People tend to have strong views on what counts as entrepreneurship, who is best suited to be an entrepreneur, where new ideas come from, and what to do about risk. Depending on the philosophy you adopt, you may approach the world in completely different ways and have different impact.
An example that is particularly relevant for undergraduate business students is helping them to understand their relationship with risk and uncertainty. While pursuing a path of entrepreneurship is agreeing to go down an uncertain pathway, it might not necessarily be risky. Many students are taught to minimize business risk, which might mean avoiding an entrepreneurial endeavor all together. However, if one values their entrepreneurial pursuit more than the alternative of a steady job, taking the steady job could actually be riskier (for them). Thus, for many students, quantifying and accepting a certain amount of risk at the start, can empower them to pursue their entrepreneurial pursuits.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… a small business shop owner.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I’d like to think it’s my emphasis on understanding my students. Many students frequently seek my advice on their startups and/or career plans. I typically put their immediate question aside to instead better understand them. I find that the more I can help students build their own self-awareness about their interests, motivations, and purpose, the easier it is for them to ultimately solve their own challenges. They don’t need my advice, but they might need help building their ability to hear what they are saying about what drives and motivates them. Recently, I started an initiative, The Founder Challenge, that utilizes this self-awareness approach in helping students pursue their entrepreneurial pursuits while also finding a community of like-minded builders.
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: You can’t do it all. Being on a college campus surrounded by a diverse set of brilliant and motivated people (students, faculty, and staff), you inevitably have to set boundaries which means you miss out on amazing talks, can’t connect with everyone exactly when you want to, and leave so many great opportunities on the table. Have they figured out how to clone us yet?
Professor I most admire and why: As an undergrad at NYU Stern, Prof. Bruce Buchanan helped me to pursue my passion in business sustainability at a time when the course work and research was still in its early days. He provided great mentorship and support at a pivotal time for me when I was trying to understand my own role and relationship with business. Fifteen years later he was a mentor again in helping me come back to NYU Stern, and now I’m so privileged and grateful to also call him a colleague!
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Business students are eager to apply their learning in real time. Thus, teaching entrepreneurship means that students can gain life-long conceptual learning while bringing their business ideas to life. When students get a taste of how these classroom ideas translate into the real world, the excitement in their eyes is what I live for.
What is most challenging? Since business students are action oriented, they can sometimes converge too quickly in solving problems at the neglect of divergent thinking. It’s a challenge but also an opportunity for me to add value through my coursework in getting them to practice this powerful skill. I find teaching design thinking to be one of the best ways for students to practice this.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Passionate
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Cynical
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… A fair grader and, more importantly, focused on getting students to learn the lesson and reflect on their growth.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Outside of work and family life, I enjoy cooking and staying active. For me this means being outdoors: hiking, biking, runs, and walks around town.
How will you spend your summer? It will be a mix of time with my family and friends and making a few strategic enhancements to our new B.S. in Business, Technology, and Entrepreneurship Program (BTE). I would also like to make some updates to the FounderChallenge.org community and research resources.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Asbury Park, NJ, and Spain
Favorite book(s): “Flow” by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, “Metaphysical Club” by Louis Menand
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The movie is absurd, hilarious, and meaningful all at once. The best part is watching the protagonist Evelyn (Michelle Yoeh) find joy in some of the most absurd and sad moments of life.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I enjoy Jazz and Reggae. I find both styles of music equally creative and inspiring and they both bring joy to different parts of the day and week.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Emphasis on purpose and imagination. Business students have perfected analytical and convergent thinking styles. This is a good thing. But if we want future business and society leaders to tackle the “grand challenges” of tomorrow, we’ll need a healthy dose of imagination and divergent thinking that can express a curiosity and exploratory approach to creating solutions. In regards to purpose, the thing our students can control the most as entrepreneurs and CEOs is their own behaviors and actions. So, building a strong base around self-awareness and a keen sense of their values and purpose can help them unlock their fullest potential.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Empowering their employees to think and act like entrepreneurs. This means creating ways for employees to look for disruptive innovation by creating their own initiatives within the organization and/or in separately organized company incubators.
I’m grateful for… For my family, for our health, and for the incredible opportunities we have been given. Also, for the generosity and compassion of strangers and community members alike—we are in this human experience together.
DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE 2022 ROSTER OF THE 50 BEST UNDERGRAD PROFESSORS
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.