2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: François Neville, McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business

François Neville
McMaster University
DeGroote School of Business


“Dr. Neville (better known as Francois to all students) is an incredibly inspiring teacher, mentor, role model, researcher and change-maker who has positively impacted many students’ lives. He has made a community of inclusion, inspiration and learning that inspires students to take on challenges, foster inclusive excellence and learn by trying and making mistakes. He has personally impacted me by being more than a professor, offering life advice and support at one of the lowest points in my life. It’s professors like this that give you courage and motivation to show up for yourself.” – Manjyot Bansal

François Neville, 39, is Associate Professor of Strategic Management at McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business.

His primary research interests reside in the areas of strategic leadership, stakeholder strategy, and business and society. Specifically, he focuses on questions related to how strategic leaders (e.g., CEOs, executives, and/or entrepreneurs) influence their firms’ strategies and are influenced by ever-changing stakeholder and societal landscapes. 

His work is forthcoming or published in leading academic journals including Business & Society, the Journal of Business Venturing, the Journal of Management, the Journal of Management Studies, and the Strategic Management Journal. He is winner of the William C. Frederick Best Dissertation Award from the Social Issues in Management (SIM) Division of the Academy of Management and a former finalist in the INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition. 

He serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Review and the Journal of Management, and has occupied various service and leadership roles within the Academy of Management, Southern Management Association, Strategic Management Society, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


At current institution since what year? 2017


  • PhD in Strategic Management, Georgia State University
  • MSc in Management, University of Ottawa (Canada)
  • BCom in Marketing, University of Ottawa (Canada)

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Business Policy & Strategic Management, Case Analysis & Presentation Skills


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … I had an opportunity to TA a few courses while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. This led me to explore an academic career by pursuing in MSc in Management. During this time, I attended my first academic conference and this really confirmed that being a professor was what I wanted to do.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? The core focus of my current research agenda lies at the intersection of strategic leadership, stakeholder strategy, and business and society. I am currently working on a few projects that examine the role of executives’ political ideologies (including their ideology polarization) and how these shape their firms’ strategies. So far, these efforts suggest that polarized boards of directors are more inclined to cooperate with social activists (likely because they engage in more effective information processing) and that liberal boards reduce their firms’ GHG emissions more than conservative boards do, but only in geographic areas that are ideologically aligned with them while overlooking areas that face climate risk.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … A fitness trainer/instructor and fitness studio owner-operator.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I think many of my friends, colleagues, and students would argue—perhaps jokingly—that is my sense of style. Beyond this, however, I would like to think that my genuine concern for students, approachability, and quick-wittedness might set me apart from others.

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: It is very easy to over-extend yourself across various facets of the profession (i.e., research, teaching, service)—often unknowingly—and end up spending more time than you would like on activities that are not fulfilling or rewarding. It is crucial to constantly check-in with yourself and remind yourself of what is important to you and how you want to spend your time.

Professor I most admire and why: I admire many qualities of several colleagues, friends, and mentors that I have had throughout my career.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? The novelty of it, versatility required to do it, and unexpected ways that I might impact students. Business students have such diverse backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and abilities. No two students are the same and no two classrooms are the same. I enjoy the novelty that this brings, how it forces me to be a lifelong learner and always “get in my bag”, and that I might be able to positively impact different students who are looking to develop their competencies in different ways. In this manner, I think business education is as much art as it is science, and I enjoy seeing the different canvases that I produce along with different students and groups of students. 

What is most challenging? Encouraging students to self-manage and self-organize, focus on the process of learning rather than simply viewing a course in a transactional manner, and to move beyond simply applying concepts toward using them to formulate their own unique insights (i.e., “so what?”).  

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

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …Constructive.


What are your hobbies? The hobby that currently occupies most of my time and attention is cycling. I have never been naturally attracted to—or talented at—endurance sports, so I am enjoying this new challenge. Besides, in my view, there are few better ways to start your day than with a group ride and obligatory café stop afterwards. Beyond this, I enjoy cooking, playing fantasy sports, watching real sports (Go Raps!), and playing board games (in which I frequently lose to my wife).  

How will you spend your summer? Mostly working on my research projects. However, I am also hoping to spend a lot of time with my family, as well as on my bike. If all goes well, I am hoping my family and I will be able to vacation in a few yet-to-be determined spots.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Any sort of resort on a beach. I also really love Western Canada (particularly Vancouver and Banff) and the Bay Area. My favorite cities to visit are Montréal, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Paris.

Favorite book(s): Can I say Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding? Does that count?

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? If I restrict this list to movies and shows I have seen recently (i.e., within the past year), my current favorite show is Succession. The characters are fantastic, as is the way it blends satire, dark comedy, and drama. My current favorite movie is Top Gun: Maverick. This is due in large part to nostalgia, as I grew up watching Top Gun on VHS more times than I can count! More generally, I never get tired of watching and re-watching Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson, Denis Villeneuve, Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese (especially Goodfellas), or Quentin Tarantino movies.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I enjoy too many different genres of music to definitively pick one. Yacht Rock is certainly a “guilty pleasure” that I do not feel guilty about. I also have a lot of fun listening to Hip-Hop and R&B and tracking down the original songs artists and producers sample. Prince is my favorite artist of all-time and I would like to think that is self-explanatory. In terms of contemporary artists, I probably listen to Drake, M83, Post Malone, and The Weeknd more regularly than others; I appreciate these artists’ sound and versatility.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … Engagement with other “classic” academic disciplines such as History, Literature, Psychology, Sociology, and the Natural Sciences. Business is a very applied discipline, and while that presents our students with many advantages and opportunities to learn skills that are easily marketable in the workforce, it would be nice if we could graduate students who have a more holistic or interdisciplinary profile.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Integrating the views of business academics and research findings into strategy formulation. While there is a lot of knowledge coming into business schools from companies and via many current and former executives who teach in various programs, companies could also benefit from knowledge coming out of business schools.

I’m grateful for … My health, my family and friends, and my unique position in helping students learn and through their process of self-discovery.


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