Sundar Bharadwaj, who holds the The Coca-Cola Company Chair of Marketing in the Terry College of Business, brings insights from marketing research into the classroom to help students become “thinking managers.”
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
My bachelor’s degree (in economics, applied statistics and mathematics) and master’s degree (in business) are from Indian universities, and my Ph.D. in marketing is from Texas A&M University.
I hold the The Coca-Cola Company Chair of Marketing in the Terry College of Business, where I teach and conduct research.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came in fall 2011. Prior to that I was a tenured full professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, where I was a faculty member for 18 years. I saw the Terry marketing department as an opportunity to be part of a rebuilding process and to interact with some bright young faculty. I was especially intrigued by the opportunity to develop a strong doctoral program.
What are your favorite courses and why?
My favorite courses are “Marketing Management” for MBA students (full-time, professional and executive) and the doctoral seminar in marketing strategy. The MBA course is a required course for all students. Marketing is a field which leverages both the left and right sides of your brain. I treat the course as a challenge to excite students about marketing and to get them to see it as a career path and for others to really understand how marketing impacts their interest. For doctoral students, the seminar course helps students understand the history and sociology of the field and to introduce them to future research opportunities.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
When I started in 2011, I was the graduate coordinator for the doctoral program in marketing and led a redesign of the program that helped improve its quality. We have recruited some stellar junior faculty and seen a dramatic improvement in the research productivity of the faculty.
How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
My work has practical relevance in two broad domains. I conduct research in the area of marketing-finance interface, and this research is of great relevance to practitioners of finance, as it provides evidence of the relevance of marketing assets (intangible assets) on the financial value of firms. Second, my research on competing on social purpose is meaningful to corporations and other constituencies as it guides firms to be effective in “Doing Good (for society) while Doing Well (for themselves)”
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I sincerely believe that conducting research makes me a better teacher. Instead of just providing outdated knowledge, I am able to bring in current research insights into the classroom and make my students into “thinking managers.” I also hope they become fact based decision makers.
My interaction with students who are working professionals enables me to identify important and relevant business problems to conduct rigorous research. A good example of that is my research on customer solutions that came out of expressed frustrations by students who were attempting to implement a customer solutions strategy in their firms.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I attempt to provide them new structured ways of thinking about unstructured problems. Given marketing business environment deals with unstructured high-velocity data, my classes provide them with frameworks and approaches to think through, analyze, draw insights and suggest actions. I hope my students will take this learning, utilize it in their jobs, and demonstrate the link between marketing actions and outcomes to their employers.
I also emphasize the importance of considering societal needs in their business actions. I hope the class inspires them to add societal value considerations along with traditional business considerations in their future jobs. I would like for them to become principled business leaders.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is one with a learning mindset. The student should be open to new ideas, thoughtful and rigorous in their approach to problem solving.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
… in the classroom and my office (by the way, we have a new and awesome building) interacting with students
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
… hang out with my family, travel to new places, watch sports and read historical fiction
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
No single favorite book. I read historical fiction, biographies and fiction. A recent favorite is “The Man Who Knew Infinity” about a real-life mathematical genius—I can relate to the milieu he grew up in.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
Hooding my first doctoral student at UGA during Commencement.
(Originally published Sept. 24, 2017)