2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Venkat Subramaniam, Tulane University, A. B. Freeman School of Business


Venkat Subramaniam
Tulane University
A. B. Freeman School of Business


“Professor Venkat is a phenomenal professor. He is always accessible to students and his lectures are lively and engaging. He goes the extra mile in bridging the gap between textbook finance and finance in the real world. By far one of the best business professors I’ve had at Tulane and I wish he could teach every finance class.” – Avik Hegde

Venkat Subramaniam, 57, is Exxon Professor of Business and Associate Professor of Finance at Tulane University, A. B. Freeman School of Business.

His research interests are in the areas of corporate cash holdings, monitoring role of non-transient institutional investors, asset restructuring, and the impact of financing choices on firm-supplier relationships. Currently he is also working on research that analyzes the impact of labor unions on product quality, and on the financial causes and product market consequences of product failures. 

His papers have been published in many leading journals including the Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Financial Economics, Management Science, Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, Journal of Financial Intermediation, Journal of Corporate Finance, Pacific Basin Finance Journal, Accounting and Business Research, and the Financial Review.

Subramaniam currently serves as the Director of the PhD program at the Freeman School. In the past, he has served as the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. In addition, he was instrumental in initiating and developing the school’s Master of Finance program and served as the program director for several years. 

He has received many Freeman School honors including the Outstanding Young Researcher award, the Howard W. Wissner Professor of the Year award, the James T. Murphy Teaching Excellence award, and the EMBA Professor of the Year award, each multiple times. He has been named to the Freeman School Teacher Honor Roll numerous times, and is a recipient of the Inspirational Professor Award, a university-wide award for teaching excellence. He also received the President’s Medal for Teaching Excellence, the highest university-wide teaching award at Tulane University.


At current institution since what year? 1994


  • Ph.D. Finance, University of Texas, Austin, TX.
  • M.Sc. Mathematics, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.
  • B.Sc. (Honors) Mathematics, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India.

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Financial Management and Advanced Financial Management


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … As a master’s student in mathematics, I attended a guest lecture by a finance professor on a project he was working on that was applied, analytically challenging, and intuitively appealing. The topic and his presentation were very engaging and resonated with me. That was when I could see myself pursuing a career in teaching and research in finance.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? A broad theme of my current research is the causes and consequences of product failures. In recent research, I analyze the impact of labor unions on product recalls and find that unionization adversely impacts product quality. This is not because of worker quality, but rather because the financial stress imposed on firms by unionization compromises the production process and product quality.  

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be …  Managing a sports analytics firm.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My sincerity and enthusiasm in the classroom. I put myself in the students’ shoes and I visualize everything — including the value of what I teach and how I teach — from the students’ perspective.

One word that describes my first time teaching:  Epiphany.  I knew then this was the career for me.  

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Businesses and markets change so rapidly that I have to continuously adapt to keep my teaching relevant.  And this is also what makes the job so energizing.  

Professor I most admire and why: There are several I admire and have learned from, but one stands out.  Professor Preston McAfee was an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of my dissertation committee.  I admire him for his prolific research.  But I admire him even more for his ability to see connections between seemingly disparate concepts in economics.  It was illuminating to see him work right from first principles when presented with a new question.  His curiosity, depth and breadth of knowledge, and delight in all things economics serve as an inspiration to me even today.  


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I enjoy their enthusiasm for always seeking to apply what they learn in the classroom in their careers.   

What is most challenging? To simplify and translate analytically complex models into usable and easy to understand concepts for students.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student:  Diligent.  I value hard work and fully believe Tim Notke, the basketball coach, when he said “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Uncaring.  I equate uncaring to being disrespectful of fellow students, the professor, and the institution.  

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … Fair and considerate 


What are your hobbies? Cricket and Football analytics. 

How will you spend your summer? Catching up on my research work and spending time with my family.  

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Ooty, India and Killarney, Ireland

Favorite book(s): The Man Who Knew Infinity by Robert Kanigel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I like the movie Ex Machina, especially in light of the recent rise in AI applications.

Besides being an engaging movie, I like the fact that the plot blurs the boundary between human and android and presents a fascinating yet disturbing scenario of what a sentient AI being can be in the future (not that I believe in sentient AI).  

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I have a fairly varied taste.  I like Arabic instrumental music, western classical music played on cello and violin, Indian film songs, and anything by Eddie Van Halen and Carlos Santana. The instrumental music relaxes me, and I enjoy the poetic lyrics in the older Indian songs. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … Experiential Learning.  Business Schools are unique in that everything we research and teach has direct applications to businesses and markets.  If business schools can seamlessly blend “learning by doing” into the curriculum we will more effectively shape the leaders of tomorrow.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at …Recognizing that employees are much more than resumes and Linked-in profiles.  They have capabilities and can contribute well beyond their job designation.  Everyone can be inspired to become a leader, even without a title.  

I’m grateful for …  My family members who tolerate my quirks, and my students who constantly reinforce my intention to do my best in the classroom.



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