July 13, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 19

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    Sanjay Dhar honored by the Graduate School of Business

    Soo Ji Min
    Graduate School of Business

    [sanjay dhar]Sanjay Dhar, Professor of Marketing in the Graduate School of Business and winner of the 2000 McKinsey Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is awarded by the GSB, said his teaching methods are rooted in two fundamental principles: the first is empathy, and the second is rigorous learning.

    Dhar said that when he was young, his own father used to sit in on his classes to see how teachers taught children. Dhar recalled that his father made a practice of these visits, so he could build on those classroom observations when he was at home. “I do that now with my son. It’s empathy that’s key.”

    Rigorous learning, the second of the principles Dhar follows, is the result of successfully engaging students in the material they cover in his marketing classes. He demands a lot of his students, he said, and would rather have them say they learned a lot in his class than say they enjoyed it. “If they enjoyed the class while learning, thatās fabulous,” said Dhar.

    Just as demanding of himself, Dhar consistently questions and evaluates his teaching methods. He said he was grateful for the positive reinforcement of winning the McKinsey Award. “This award ratifies that Iāve been able to perform at a level that is valued.”

    Established in 1979 by the management-consulting firm McKinsey and Company, the award is given biannually to a GSB faculty member who has been teaching for at least two years. A committee of students and GSB Business Advisory Council members, who are chief executive officers and other senior executives of leading companies, choose the recipient of the award.

    “I think any award is special, but this one is particularly so because it is given after the first few years of teaching,” said Dhar, who has been at the GSB for nearly eight years.

    Dhar focuses on providing his students with a strong and lasting base in the fundamentals of marketing. “He is demanding of his students because he wants us to do well and to learn,” said Dan Fee, (M.B.A., ’01), a former student and teaching assistant for Dhar’s basic marketing course. “More than anything, he seems focused on making sure that his students know the material so they can succeed in their careers.”

    Dhar believes his students are his biggest assets. “One of the things I strongly believe is that when youāre teaching a class, youāre building a life-long relationship,” he said. Each quarter, he invites three or four former students back to his classes to guest lecture.

    “I like to be able to get some feedback on what I taught them and how they applied it,” said Dhar. “It also helps current students see practical applications of what theyāre learning in class.”

    Dhar received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in 1983 from the Indian Institute of Technology. He earned his M.B.A. in 1987 from the Indian Institute of Management and a Ph.D. in 1992 from UCLA. He joined the GSB faculty in 1992 as an Assistant Professor, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1996 and then to Professor in 1999.

    In 1994, the GSB awarded Dhar the Emory Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is based on accessibility, enthusiasm, clarity and innovation in teaching.

    As a winner of two GSB teaching awards, Dhar described the best reward of teaching. “It’s always a give-and-take situation. It’s very fulfilling to give back and influence young peoples’ lives. I’m also exposed to new ideas in the classroom every day.”