Get to know Foster’s Bret Wheat Endowed Professor of Marketing Shailendra Pratap Jain (Shelly), who teaches the core MBA course Marketing.
Please tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born in India in a large family where silence was at a premium. The youngest of five siblings, I learnt co-existence, respect, and team work in that environment. We faced many physical, emotional, and financial challenges growing up and each of those has come in handy in shaping my life. Our Mom never spared an opportunity to tell us that we as siblings need to work together to make life fun and productive.
I am lucky to have received some great education graduating from a terrific high school and going on to become a chemical engineer, an MBA, MPhil, and a PhD. I have worked in industry for six years and in academia for the past 33 years. I have taught at NYU, U of Rochester, Cornell University, and Indiana University.
My wife, Shalini Sarin Jain, is a faculty in business ethics and the director of DEI at the Milgard School, UW Tacoma. We collaborate on research and have a forthcoming book. She likes my cooking but dislikes how messy the kitchen is after I am done. We have a 21-year old child, Naira. Naira is a junior pursuing their dream of being in the performing arts at NYU’s Tisch School. They keep us constantly stimulated with their ideas, challenges, intellect, honesty, expressiveness and creativity. Parenting them and seeing them blossom have been the most joyful life pursuits we have experienced.
What excites you about your subject area (marketing) and what are some of your research interests?
Marketing is the glue that binds all other functions within an organization. You can make a great product but unless you market it well, it may not do well and the company may not create the value it is seeking to create. This is what excites me about marketing the most.
My research is fundamentally about understanding consumers. Some of the domains within this that interest me include brand strategy, advertising, persuasion in general, consumer addictions, and more recently the consumer psychology of AI.
How does your work align with Foster’s purpose? Purpose statement:
We Foster Leaders
We Foster Insights
We Foster Progress
…To Better Humanity
A major part of my recent research involves understanding consumer addictions, a serious but ignored issue facing our planet. Did you know that various types of addictions human beings face may be costing the world over $2 trillion? If I can make a small contribution to an understanding of this scourge, I will feel grateful. This research is aligned with Foster’s purpose of bettering humanity.
How have you worked to make your classroom/course curriculum inclusive?
I have experienced being marginalized in my life several times. These experiences have made me even more sensitive to being respectful and inclusive in the classroom and I go to great lengths to include students regardless of the life station they come from. In particular, I make it a point to help those who are quiet/shy participate in class. I hold regular Zoom sessions where students can express their concerns freely and I take frequent feedback from both the students as well as the administration to determine if I am falling short on being inclusive. I also attend workshops featuring latest research on inclusivity which helps me remain aware of the pitfalls and other issues surrounding this notion.
Any favorite memories from your experience with Full-Time MBAs/Evening MBAs?
One of my students has had a wonderful career in consumer product marketing. Her first job was with P&G, followed by Starbucks and then in grocery retail. She is now in a start-up. Her success is gratifying.
Another favorite and recurring memory is when students call to tell me that they were offered a job based on what they learnt in my class.
How have you supported students outside the classroom?
I have supported students with designing and pursuing independent study for MBA course credit, mock job interviews, re-writing their CVs, writing letters of recommendation, etc. I have also gone out for coffee/lunch with them and participated in Challenge for Charity (C4C).
How is your teaching influenced by instructional best practices?
Greatly. I frequently attend teaching workshops to learn from others. I also exchange notes with faculty at other schools to understand their practices.
How do you maximize learning and keep students engaged?
- Energy, passion, some humor, keeping them on their toes by warm calling.
- Mandatory pre-class preparation for both students and me!
- Impress upon them how and why marketing is important.
- Using a mix of pedagogical tools – cases, lectures, discussions, guest speakers, videos, online content…
- Using lots of examples!
How have your relationships with industry experts influenced what happens in your class?
My own six years’ experience in industry comes in handy in explaining concepts and ideas in class. I also invite one or two guest speakers every year to class.
How has your research influenced the curriculum at other business schools?
I understand that some of my research in advertising has been featured in some text books. Faculty at other schools have asked for my syllabus which they have used to design their courses.
Are you currently doing work outside of Foster that influences what happens in the classroom?
I am finishing a book, with my wife, on brands gone bad and how companies can recover from their mis-steps.
How will students apply the knowledge and skills they gain in your classroom in their careers?
They can apply it each and every day in whatever jobs they are doing. They will need to keep tabs on the consumer, competition, their own resources and capabilities, the macro environment, and so on. These are the integral components of the course I teach.
What can students expect to master by the end of your course?
Students can expect to get access to a marketing roadmap – a list of ‘things’ to consider in making a good marketing decision. They will also see how different management functions integrate/come together.
What advice do you have for first year students to ace the marketing course?
Talk to the second-year students. They are your single most important source of course related experience and information.
Marketing is not rocket science, but it is not a piece of cake either. So be prepared to sweat the small and the big stuff.
Any tips for incoming MBAs?
Just come in with an open mind and curiosity. Be willing to work hard and reach out any time you experience anxiety/confusion.