Solène Delecourt selected as ‘Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professor’ by Poets&Quants

A smiling woman with short blond wears a yellow blazer and stands with arms crossed. A badge reads: Poets&Quants Best 40 Under 40 Professors
Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt

Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt, who teaches negotiations to MBA students and studies business inequality, has been named as one of Poets&QuantsBest 40 Under 40 MBA Professors” for 2024.

Delecourt was selected from among 1,000 nominations from students, administrators, and faculty members at business schools around the world. The announcement comes just after she was honored with a Cheit Award for Teaching Excellence—the highest teaching honor at Haas—by students in the full-time MBA program.

“This has been a terrific year for me. I am thrilled to be chosen as one of the 40 under 40 MBA professors,” Delecourt says. “I want to thank my students wholeheartedly for their nominations.”

Just four years into her academic career, Delecourt is described by her students as a professor who changed their outlook on negotiations for life—a critical skill in our polarized times

Solène’s strongest message throughout my negotiations course was to create a win/win outcome, and assume we are all on the same side,” said Namit Singal, MBA 24, in his nomination. “I absolutely loved this learning and will take it away for life.”

Alex Berry, MBA 24, said he was going to switch out of an 8 am class section until he met her. “She brought an energy, vulnerability, and practicality to her classes that should be a model for every MBA professor.”

Besides her expertise and creative teaching methods, students also praised her sense of humor, positivity, and “infectious energy.” She earned a perfect score on her teaching evaluations—7 out of 7—last fall.

‘In love’ with teaching

In describing her path to becoming a business school professor, Delecourt says she accidentally “fell under the spell of this career path” after starting her PhD at Stanford, and “I am in love with it.” Her goal is for her students to learn while having fun.

“If they don’t have fun, I don’t think they’re going to remember much. At the same time, they need to learn because this is a class, it’s not a party,” she says. “And so for that, I design all of my classes to be packed with action.”

Some of those class activities include an improv-inspired negotiations tournament, and an open mic session where students share stories of a prior experience where negotiation skills could have helped them. She has a curated playlist—Beyoncé is a favorite—with lyrics that reinforce key learnings.

Delecourt also draws from her research passion to make students aware of power inequities, particularly for women and people of color. Her academic work has been gaining increasing recognition: A co-authored paper published in the journal Nature this year showed that googling for images rather than text amplifies gender biases. It received widespread media attention and won the Best Paper Prize at the 2022 International Conference on Computational Social Science, and was a semi-finalist at the 2021 Wharton People Analytics Competition.

Most of her research is at the intersection of entrepreneurship and gender. She recently ran a field experiment to test whether access to generative AI can boost success for small business owners in Kenya—and found it only helps people who were already high-performers. The paper won the 2024 white paper competition at the Wharton People Analytics Conference. Delecourt’s work has received funding from various sources, including a $250,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation this year. She currently serves as an editorial board member of the journalOrganization Science.

12th year of “Best 40 Under 40”

This is the 12th year that Poets & Quants has published the “Best 40 Under 40” list with the goal of “identifying and celebrating the most talented young professors currently teaching in MBA programs around the world.” The publication’s staff evaluated each nominee on teaching (weighted 70%) and research (weighted 30%).

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