Meet the Evening MBA Core Faculty: Professor Mark Westerfield

Who are the faculty who teach the Evening MBA core courses? In this Blog Series, these leading scholars share with us what they enjoy about the Evening MBA Program and provide some background on their cutting edge research.

Our first featured faculty member is Professor Mark Westerfield. Students describe Professor Westerfield’s Business Finance course as challenging, but “definitely a positive NPV project.” His dedication to his students is evident from the very first lecture when he shares the outcomes of the course and invites students to provide input on the teaching structure. Professor Westerfield welcomes questions and encourages curiosity, whether it’s in the classroom or during office hours, in teams or individually. He often makes himself available on the weekends before a group case is due for his class, popping into Paccar Hall team rooms to answer questions. Whether he is encouraging students to lead a complex case, giving an interactive lecture on the Financial Crisis, or providing an engaging glimpse into Behavioral Finance, Professor Mark Westerfield is creating futures as a member of Foster’s esteemed faculty.

Professor Mark Westerfield
Professor Mark Westerfield

Teaches: Business Finance (FIN 502)

What do you enjoy the most about teaching Foster Evening MBA students?

I most enjoy the level of professional engagement from my Foster Evening MBA students. Students bring their own knowledge and context with them in to the classroom, and they are willing to fully engage with the class material and the knowledge of their classmates. Even better, the students naturally do this with a professional manner, taking responsibility for exploiting all of the opportunities they have for work the next day or their career in ten years. The result is a potent mixture where everyone (including me) leaves with much more than they entered with.

 Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?

Valuing assets and decisions is important for all managers. Business Finance teaches the fundamental tools of valuation and decision making: Should we undertake a particular project or investment? What is an asset or opportunity worth? How do we assess risk and return? At the end of the class, students have a structure for thinking about potential projects and investments and the ability to analyze opportunities in a systematic way.

What is the focus of your current research? What are the key issues and questions that interest you?

My current research focuses on contracts and liquidity, particularly in settings like private equity and venture capital funds. If investments cannot be traded and there is no clear price, investors will require a return premium to compensate them for the additional risk and uncertainty; how much do they require, and how much should they require? Contracts and payment schemes provide incentives to fund managers; how do different contract forms generate incentives and how do those forms affect performance?

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about your MBA core course or approach to teaching?

This course uses a combination of lectures and case studies. The lecture is intended to provide students with rigorous analytical tools; the cases are an opportunity to use those tools in practical settings. I believe that `learning’ and `doing’ must be integrated. It is the fact that students must create solutions–rather than simply hearing and repeating what others have done–that provides the crucial link between theory and action. In combination, the lectures and cases are intended to turn students from consumers of information to producers of rigorous analysis.

To learn more about Professor Mark Westerfield and his research:

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