The World’s Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors


Poets & Quants includes UCLA Anderson’s Hengchen Dai and Auyon Siddiq on the prestigious annual list
Poets & Quants includes UCLA Anderson’s Hengchen Dai and Auyon Siddiq on the prestigious annual list

Assistant Professors Hengchen Dai and Auyon Siddiq have been selected among Poets & QuantsWorld’s Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professors of 2020. Dai joined the Management and Organizations faculty at UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2017. She is also a member of Anderson’s Behavioral Decision Making faculty. Siddiq joined the Anderson faculty in 2018 in the Decisions, Operations and Technology Management area.

According to Poets & Quants, which released its list on April 29, more than 2,000 nominations were received by the publication, with 160 professors considered. Professors were evaluated in two categories, research and teaching, and were scored on a 1–10 scale. The 2020 honor roll includes 12 women, four fewer than 2019’s all-time high of 16. There are 12 professors on the list from international schools, up from 11 last year and the highest number ever represented.

Poets & Quants noted that at just 31 years old, Dai is one of the youngest professors to make the 2020 list. She has amassed nearly 600 Google Scholar citations and her research “has led to numerous awards and media coverage in such major outlets as New York Magazine, the BBC, The Atlantic, NPR and the Wall Street Journal.”

“In general, I study self-control and motivation using large-scale field experiments and archival analyses,” Dai told Poets & Quants. “I seek to understand how individuals make decisions when facing self-control challenges and how to design interventions to steer individuals toward far-sighted decision making.”

Dai’s nominations came with some effusive praise. “Hengchen is a rising star researcher and one of our most successful MBA teachers,” one nominator told Poets & Quants. “She is a conscientious and consistently engaged colleague.”

“Professor Dai is a remarkably productive researcher,” another said. “She is also a beloved teacher, who engages her students through her commitment to their class experience, use of interactive exercises, interesting content and her humorous and likable demeanor.”

Describing him as “just born to teach,” Poets & Quants said Siddiq, 32, is “truly an overwhelming student-favorite, which is impressive considering he’s one of the youngest professors on this year’s honor roll.”

The publication also noted that whereas Siddiq did not receive the most nominations of professors who made this year’s list, he may have received “the most in-depth and thoughtful endorsements.”

“Professor Siddiq is a fantastic instructor, and was able to take complicated concepts in statistics and distill them in a way to help students from non-quant backgrounds,” wrote one nominator. “He was extremely patient and thorough in his explanations and would always go the extra mile to ensure his material was valuable, relatable and well-understood. I also had the opportunity to TA for Professor Siddiq, and he treated me with nothing but respect. He took an active interest in my professional and personal life and I truly felt like this was someone who deeply cared about those around him.”

Added a fellow member of the Anderson faculty, “I have co-taught with Auyon for the past two years. He is a gifted and creative teacher and works tirelessly to convey difficult material (statistics) to students in an easy-to-digest manner. He is also doing cutting-edge research in optimization, machine learning and health care.”

Prior UCLA Anderson Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professors include:

2018: Cassie Mogilner Holmes
2017: Hal Hershfield and Elisa Long
2016: Jenessa Shapiro
2015: Danny Oppenheimer and Guillaume Roels
2011: Miguel Unzueta

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