Binghamton University School of Management
“Subimal Chatterjee is the first and only faculty member in the Binghamton University School of Management to earn a distinguished teaching professorship from the State University of New York (SUNY). The honor, SUNY’s highest academic rank, is awarded to faculty who possess ‘outstanding teaching competence’ that has been ‘consistently demonstrated over multiple years at the institution.’ Since arriving in Binghamton in 1997, Subimal has been a favorite among countless students, who regard him as a practical, relatable and inspiring instructor.” – School of Management’s Dean’s Office
Subimal Chatterjee, 63, is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Marketing at Binghamton University School of Management
He is an engineer by training with a doctorate in behavioral marketing. His research studies irrational decision making – why people make seemingly irrational decisions, why it makes sense to them, and how best to nudge people away from these instinctive decisions should it lead them astray. His work has been published in top journals including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Organizational Behavior, Human Decision Processes, and Production and Operations Management.
In 2019, the SUNY system recognized his teaching with their highest award, the SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor.
At current institution since what year? 1997
- PhD (Marketing), University of Pittsburgh (1994)
- PGDM, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, India (1984)
- B.Ch.E., (Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India (1978)
List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Statistics for Management, Consumer Behavior, Principles of Marketing
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh and started reading/researching about irrational decision making. I knew right away that I could translate the research into a fascinating classroom experience, but, first, I had to reconfigure the research into stories about life and how to be better friends, colleagues, strategists, and partners.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? For the last 25 years, the topic has always been irrational decision making, but the contexts have changed. For example, some of my earlier work focused on the movie industry – how consumer reviews translated into box-office success or failure and how studio managers could leverage the reviews and make better decisions in the next round by introducing the right sequels. Currently, I am applying the same principles in studying some of the current disruptions in our lives, such as managing the fallouts from data breaches, or how shoppers’ price/quality tradeoffs have changed, during and post-Covid, as they have switched from the physical to the online marketplace.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… A shipping executive (my first job out of business school was at a shipping company in India). But truth be told, all I wanted to do was drive trains – Nothing is more fascinating than seeing the world around you go by while traveling in a straight line.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? As cliché ridden as it may sound, I treat my students as individuals, and try to find the individual sweet spots. What excites one student is quite different from what excites another, and it is important to understand these differences, and do our best to leverage them inside the classroom.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: The dictionary has not come up with it yet – it’s the combination of intense fear with intense excitement.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:
How hard it would be, and, at the same time, how fulfilling it would be.
Professor I most admire and why: Without a doubt, my mentor and guide of all these years, Professor Timothy Heath, who was my dissertation chair at Pitt. He taught me the importance of stories – how to write them (in papers), and how to tell them (in the classroom). He taught me about perseverance and never to give up, even when the world around seemed to be at its darkest. And he taught me about happiness, how to find it in the most unexpected places, and the importance of understanding (and finding) what I wanted to do with my life that would make me (and others around me) happy.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? The little slices of life that they bring to the classroom, what they like, where they see hope, and where they despair. When you take the time to talk to them (which is more difficult when you are teaching large classes), you can see, almost immediately, what they are thinking, and how you can make the class relevant to them.
What is most challenging? Getting students to understand (1) the importance of a strong foundation (when the going gets tough for them), and (2) how some of the lessons will live beyond the classrooms in their professional and personal lives.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Passive
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… A fair grader, who gets absolutely thrilled when a student everyone thought would fail ends up performing above expectations in the end – sometimes a “B” excites me more than an “A.”
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Watching old movies, solving Sudoku puzzles, Steelers Football (the naturalized US citizen), Team India Cricket (but always an Indian at heart)
How will you spend your summer? Looking forward to traveling after the Covid pandemic, trying to catch up on my readings, and, hopefully, working with young faculty on exciting research projects.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: I have loved every place that I have visited and I wish I could go back there again. To name a few, the floating market of the Mekong Delta (Vietnam), Mostar Bridge (Bosnia), Petra (Jordan), Kruger National Park (South Africa), and Montmartre (outskirts of Paris).
Favorite book(s): On the academic side: Thinking Fast, and Slow (Daniel Kahneman), Misbehaving (Richard Thaler), and Everybody Lies (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz). On the non-academic side, Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War and Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World have been profoundly moving to me.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? TV show: Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen – Leadership, an unflinching and unwavering commitment to quality, and survival that depends upon group cohesion – all recipes for excelling in today’s competitive world.
Movies: Currently, I am watching the old classics of Satyajit Ray, and realizing how different they feel when you watch them after almost 50 years.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Songs from Bollywood movies – How the music has changed over time, reflecting the changing face of India – from traditional to modern – and the talented new artists that spring up almost every year from shows such as Indian Idol and Superstar Singer.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… More focused on developing well-rounded students instead of fixating on the technical/social crazes of the time.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Defending/adjusting the profit motive, without shying away or being ashamed of it.
I’m grateful for… All that that this great and wonderful country has given me (an immigrant), allowing me to earn a paycheck for doing what I love to do.
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