Uduehi and Nageswaran named among the nation’s best undergrad professors by Poets & Quants

Esther Uduehi and Leela Nageswaran, young faculty at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, have been named among the “Top 50 Undergraduate Professors of 2022” by the influential business school site Poets & Quants.

Esther Uduehi

Esther Uduehi is an assistant professor of marketing and international business. She joined the Foster School Department of Marketing and International Business in 2021, after earning her PhD in marketing from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an MSc in nature society and environmental policy while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and a BA in chemistry and mathematics from Indiana University.

From research that examines topics of diversity, stigma, branding, identity, consumer behavior and emotions, Uduehi has received the Eli Jones Promising Scholar Award (2021) and the Best Working Paper Award from the Association for Consumer Research (2020) for her study, “When Diversity Backfires: The Asymmetric Role of Multicultural Marketing on Brand Perception.” She was an American Marketing Association-Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium Fellow in 2020.

In the classroom, Uduehi teaches Marketing Concepts in the undergraduate core curriculum. “I like to use real-world examples and activities to illuminate marketing concepts,” she tells Poets & Quants. “And, most importantly, every class needs to include laughter or I have failed.”

Creating a more global impact outside of the classroom, this year Uduehi co-founded The Tenure Project, a national initiative to increase the number of Black, Native and Latinx junior faculty who earn tenure at business schools, through self-development and the mentoring and alliance of senior faculty.

“Esther has made a massive contribution to the field by co-founding The Tenure Project,” says Christina Fong, associate dean of undergraduate programs at the Foster School. “Foster hosted the inaugural conference in August. Esther helmed this initiative which brought together more than 100 junior faculty (often teaching undergraduates) from various schools from across the country to build community.”

In addition to her efforts to open doors to underrepresented faculty populations, Uduehi also hopes to see business schools create courses “focused on understanding how historical context has impacted business and business decisions. Students deserve a curriculum that allows for connecting business with history to that they can hopefully improve our society.”

Leela Nageswaran

Leela Nageswaran is an assistant professor operations management. She joined the Foster School Department of Information Systems and Operations Management in 2018, after earning her PhD and MS at Carnegie Mellon University and a BTech in electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology.

Her research, which examines omnichannel retailing and service operations, garnered the William W. Cooper Doctoral Dissertation Award and was a runner-up for the IBM Service Science Best Students Paper Award while at Carnegie Mellon.

At Foster, Nageswaran teaches Decision Support Models in the Evening MBA Program and Principles of Operations Management in the Undergraduate Program core. In the latter, she has created unique and engaging course materials such as a video series and curated articles to help students show up prepared and contextualize concepts from the class.

She credits her success to authenticity. “I am true to myself,” she tells Poets & Quants. “What students see during a course is how I am all the time. The authenticity ensures that the course is an inviting space for students. I am also a firm believer in leveling the playing field and I strive to make every class session work for a wide variety of students.”

Nageswaran also has coached numerous student case competition teams, including the champions of the 2019 National Women’s Case Competition at University of Texas at Austin.

In addition to her Poets & Quants recognition, she received this year’s Dean’s Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching at Foster.

“Leela has succeeded in her incredible efforts to make a highly quantitative class approachable to the students and grounded in real world concepts,” says Fong. “She truly understands what her students need and strives to be an effective and engaging lecturer.”