The influential MBA news site devises the list annually from the nominations of students around the world. Hallen, an expert in the study and teaching of entrepreneurship, rose to the top of a record influx of nominations in this sixth edition of the index.
“Ever hear the maxim: those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach?” begins his profile in Poets & Quants. “Ben Hallen is one of those professors who can do both.”
Do, study, teach
After earning a BS in electrical engineering at the University of Virginia, Hallen left the school’s program in computer science to co-found an angel-backed dotcom called Topik Solutions, where he served as chief technology officer. Later, he assisted the director of development at the pioneering digital game maker Electronic Arts.
But the academic life beckoned. After earning his PhD in strategy, organizations and entrepreneurship at Stanford University in 2007, Hallen served as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland and the London Business School before joining Foster’s Department of Management and Organization in 2014.
In venture-minded Seattle, he has quickly established himself as a leading mind in entrepreneurship. He teaches entrepreneurship in Foster’s Technology Management MBA and Executive MBA Programs. And he is faculty director of the school’s new Master of Science in Entrepreneurship Program, launching this fall under the guidance of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.
The 12-month fusion of an entrepreneurial MBA curriculum and state-of-the-art venture accelerator—complete with an all-access pass to the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem—has been designed to the specifications of Hallen’s own cutting-edge research identifying the best practices of the most effective accelerators.
Mentor, coach, inspiration
Beyond his award-winning work to better understand the vagaries of accelerators and entrepreneurial finance, Hallen contributes more broadly to the advancement of scholarly thought by serving on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Administrative Science Quarterly.
But the “40 Under 40” is all about teaching. Hallen been awarded teaching awards at Maryland, LBS and Foster, where his students describe him as “energetic and dynamic” and “affable yet rigorous” with a “genuine passion for students’ learning.” They consider him a “mentor, coach, inspiration.”
“Ben’s engaging and dynamic teaching style imparted valuable knowledge and stimulated our thinking and creativity through case studies, discussions and projects,” wrote one nominating Foster student. “He also lit the entrepreneurial spark in us: several of my classmates are now pursuing new ventures, and Ben’s influence played a key role in that.”
Odds, ends, imagineering
The Poets & Quants profile also reveals that Hallen:
- Grew up in Tennessee, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
- Is an avid skier, who favors the slopes of Whistler, B.C., and places learning to backcountry ski at the top of his bucket list.
- Considers Bluegrass his favorite style of music.
- Lists William Gibson’s “Neuromancer,” Pixar’s “Up” and BBC America’s “Orphan Black” as his favorite book, movie and TV show, respectively.
- Recommends the documentary “Startup.com” for an unvarnished look inside entrepreneurship.
- Would be a serial entrepreneur or Disney “Imagineer” if his academic gig ever gets old.
- Counts Seattle startups Peach and Poppy among his current favorites, and expresses admiration for Microsoft’s recent repositioning.
- Once had a local micro-brewery entrepreneur show up as a guest lecturer for his 9 a.m. class—prior to Foster—with multiple coolers of his product to sample, resulting in a “very uninhibited discussion.”
Hallen told Poets & Quants that what makes being a Foster professor so rewarding is “getting to help students see themselves as entrepreneurs, whether in new ventures, established companies or their communities.”