SMS Educational Impact Award

The Educational Impact Award recognizes excellence in contributing to the teaching mission in strategic management. It will be given to an individual who has made an exemplary contribution to quality and innovation in the teaching of strategic management, either through their own teaching and mentoring activities and/or by empowering other teachers with innovations and high-quality teaching materials.

Award Timeline

Nominations for the SMS Educational Impact Award will be accepted until April 15 of each year and should be submitted to the SMS Executive Office through the Submittable form.

Past Educational Impact Award Recipients

picture of Jackson Nickerson
Jackson Nickerson
Washington University in St. Louis

Nominees for this award will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation in the teaching of strategic management (e.g. new pedagogies, new media for learning and knowledge sharing)
  • Development and dissemination of teaching materials, such as texts, case studies and digital materials
  • Writing and publishing on pedagogy
  • Evidence of excellence in teaching at their home institution and other places they have taught (e.g. teaching awards, reference letters from administrators or peers, etc.)

The Award Recipient will be recognized on the SMS Website and at the SMS Annual Conference, as well as invited to participate in the SMS Awards & Honors Webinar Series. 

The recipient of this award is selected by a sub-committee appointed by the SMS Awards & Honors Committee, and will include leadership of the SMS Teaching Community. 

Nominations are invited from any member of the SMS and should include: 

  • A nomination letter of not more than two pages in length specifically addressing the nominee’s achievements vis-à-vis the above criteria
  • Two additional letters of recommendation for the nominated individual
  • A full current CV for the nominated individual

2022 Award Recipient: Idalene Kesner

We are honored to present this year’s SMS Educational Impact Award to Idalene (Idie) Kesner of the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. 

Idie Kesner is the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management at Indiana University’s Kelley School. She served as Dean of the school for 10 years, stepping down on July 31, 2022. Prior to Dean, she served as Associate Dean for Faculty & Research, Chairperson for the Management & Entrepreneurship Department, Chairperson of the fulltime MBA Program, and co-director of the MBA Consulting Academy. Idie also served on the faculty of the Kenan-Flager School of Business at the University of North Carolina (1983 – 1995).

Idie received her MBA and Ph.D. from Kelley. Her research is in the corporate governance area, and she has taught strategic management, crisis management, change management and consulting. She has won more than two dozen teaching awards and taught more than 100 executive programs. She has served as a consultant to various national and international firms on board-related issues. She currently she serves on five boards.

Idie will be recognized at the SMS Annual Conference in London and during the SMS Awards Webinar Series in the fall of 2022.

Idalene participated in a written interview for the SMS Awards & Honors Committee. In this interview she shares many insights on her career and history with teaching strategic management. 

Each time I set foot in the classroom, I am energized by students’ active participation in case discussions and debates, including challenging my perspectives. Often during a class session, I’ll step back and watch a student-to-student debate unfold. It is inspirational to see students debate each other’s ideas, seeking and shaping better solutions and outcomes to complex problems. I describe these instances as proverbial “lightbulb moments,” where one almost senses the connections that students are making using the strategic tools we bring to them as educators. I take the time to remind students that what they are learning is not about a single concept or construct or a specific industry or company. I remind them that they are developing the essential problem-solving skills that will help them solve complex, strategic-level challenges throughout their careers. I always say that the best gift students can give professors is the e-mails, conversations, and even old-fashioned letters after the course is over to let them know the value of what they’ve learned. What happens in the classroom and the feedback afterwards, are a powerful, energizing combination.

As I prepare new courses or revisions to courses, I seek out scholarly and practitioner articles to inform the course content and assignments and supplement the cases I use. This is especially important in rapidly evolving areas of strategy. As I return to teaching, following my 10 years in the dean’s role, I’m developing what, for me, will be new course preps. One example is an elective course on ESG. The scholarly work being done in this area will play a significant role in the topics I’ll be covering and the materials I will be incorporating into the course. And, it’s my sincere hope that I can contribute to the ESG scholarship taking place as I forge new research questions based on my own corporate board experiences.

In addition, I’ve been able to leverage insights from the classroom (especially at the graduate level) into my scholarly work. There have been times when students have shared work-related experiences in the classroom, which have sparked ideas, some of which I have chosen to develop and explore further.

There are three pieces of advice that I offer most often to those I am coaching or mentoring.

First, understand your students -- their background, experiences, knowledge, skills, and educational needs – and adjust your style and techniques in ways that meet students where they are in their learning journey. For example, if students are unaccustomed to actively participating in classroom discussions, you may need to create techniques and tools that draw them into the classroom conversations in ways they can feel comfortable contributing. If you have students who have little or no prior work experience, you may need to provide experiential exercises and lots of examples so they can understand how to contextualize the concepts and tools you are introducing. You may also need to help your students draw out lessons learned at the end of sessions. In contrast, if you have more mature students with extensive work experience, who are accustomed to constructively debating the pros and cons of options and solutions to complex business problems, your job may be that of “orchestra leader,” helping to draw out the diverse voices and diverse lessons learned. Even though you may have a preferred pedagogy, it’s helpful to tailor your approach to accommodate students’ background, experiences, knowledge, skills, and needs.

Second, cover a few things well versus mediocre coverage of everything. There is an often-used expression -- “Don’t try to cram 10 pounds of potatoes into a 5-pound bag.” Trying to tackle too much in a single class session or in a single course, can be less effective than conveying fewer important theories, concepts, knowledge sets or skills, more thoroughly and clearly. Often faculty members want to share everything they know and everything they’ve learned. Don’t presume that your interactions with students is the only time they will learn about the discipline. There will be other times and other ways in which students gain exposure to the world of strategy. Indeed, if taught effectively, your course can be the inspiration for students wanting to learn more.

I also like to emphasize the importance of setting high expectations, being clear about my expectations, and holding students accountable. Whether it’s in my syllabus or something I say on Day 1 or any day that follows, I try to be clear as to what I expect, what we are going to be doing over the duration of the course, and the learning objectives and competencies that will be gained. And, it’s especially helpful, if at the end of the course, students have a way of recognizing the learning that has taken place.

Most doctoral programs place a larger emphasis on research than teaching. There’s good reason for this. However, we sometimes forget the importance of our role as educators. It was exciting in the early days of building the SMS Teaching Community, to see colleagues who, like me, were interested in developing their teaching skills in addition to their research skills.

In the earlier part of my career, and even to this day, every time I develop a new course or revise an existing course, I’m like “a kid in a candy store” as I explore new cases and readings. It occurred to me that others might be exploring cases and readings like I was doing and sharing these materials would be useful to colleagues. Moreover, I was convinced that if we shared pedagogical tools, tips, and techniques, it would help everyone move down the learning curve faster regardless of what level of teaching experience one had. So, in the early days, there was a small cohort of faculty members from different schools who shared the materials we identified and our experiences with those materials – experiences with specific cases in the classroom environment, experiences with various simulations and experiential exercises, and experiences with other aspects of our strategy courses. The little community we created was something I valued very much early in my career. Eventually, the idea was to take this resource to an even larger community of strategy educators who would benefit personally but also would provide benefit to others. Nothing in the more than 40 years I’ve been teaching strategy has changed my view that when we share our teaching experiences – both our successes and failures -- we ultimately help our students and the academic community at large.