Assistant professor of management Lauren D’Innocenzo was named to Poets&Quants’ Best 40 Under 40 Professors of 2019.
Poets&Quants, a noted business-school news and rankings site, has published this list for seven years, and the nominations for the 2019 list set records: 2,643 nominations for 188 different professors, the highest numbers ever for both. D’Innocenzo is one of 16 women on the list, the most of any edition.
Nominees were scored based on both teaching and research, with published academic articles and Google Scholar citations determining the research score. Evaluations of the nominees’ teaching came from former MBA students, as well as fellow professors and other academic leaders.
In her profile on the Poets&Quants site, D’Innocenzo cites project-based learning, which she employs as part of her Dynamic Team Consulting course, as a feature of “the business school of the future.”
“I’m always looking for ways to make the material more accessible for students and more applicable to what they’re doing now in their co-op jobs and to future employment,” she says.
D’Innocenzo, who teaches in LeBow’s undergraduate, MBA and Executive Education (MBA and DBA) programs, also stresses self-reflection and performance improvement, both among her students and in her own teaching. “I’m searching for new ways of teaching the same material, simply to change things up or to home in on a particular topic to see if there’s a better way,” she says. “Things change so fast that what’s relevant now might not be when I teach it again six months from now.”
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Innovation Teresa Harrison, who nominated D’Innocenzo for the list, praised her ability to link her teaching with her research on leadership and team development.
“She really takes it to the next level by bringing it into the classroom in a way that’s meaningful to her students and beneficial to industry,” she says.
“I find that as I have different kinds of research exposure, the more I’m able to share new insights in class,” D’Innocenzo adds. “It’s the same fundamental topics, but the way I present might change based on what I’m doing or things I’ve observed.”
Her recent research has focused on emergent or informal leadership strategies. In settings without an assigned leader, what makes the difference between someone who steps up and someone who doesn’t? In answering this question, D’Innocenzo researched surface level characteristics and deep level characteristics in investigating the role gender plays in how people take on leadership.
“It matters more early on in the task then, later on, the effect of gender dissipates. Men are more likely to step up than females, but later on that effect washes out,” she says. “For teams that have functional diversity, where [team members] all have different specialties, the effect lasts throughout out the task and gets stronger as the task goes on. I use findings like this in leadership classes to explain how easily observable characteristics like gender play a role in who steps up to lead.”
D’Innocenzo also regularly draws from non-academic sources in her teaching: clips from movies and TV shows and other references to popular culture. For example, she uses a series of clips from the movie “Anchorman” that illustrate how teams are composed in different ways.
Like with all course material, though, she aims to keep these references up to date: “When they resonated with less than half the class, I know I need to go with something else.”