Professor Profiles: Nicolaj Siggelkow, The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school to attend, but the educational experience itself is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we highlight a standout professor as identified by students. Today, we profile Nicolaj Siggelkow from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Known for being a protégé of the strategy guru Michael Porter, Nicolaj Siggelkow (“Strategy and Competitive Advantage,” “Managing Established Enterprises” and “Career Planning”) is just as well known at Wharton for pushing students to clarify their answers in his class—using buzzwords such as “added value” and “frameworks” can earn a cold-called student 30 minutes or so of additional questioning. A second year called Siggelkow simply “the best professor at Wharton for leading a case,” and another remarked, “He will whip your ass into shape, so you must prepare for class—or don’t bother coming!”

Siggelkow expects his students to come prepared to class, and students in the Wagat guide (Wharton’s ode to the Zagat guide, but for courses rather than restaurants) have said that the workload for each session of his “Strategy and Competitive Advantage” course is far heavier than the norm, to say the least. (In course evaluations from a prior academic year, the workload required for his classes was rated 3.78, whereas the average at the time was 3.13.) Still, students appear to respect him for this toughness, and he has earned six teaching awards (eight, if we include undergrad business awards) in his 16 years at Wharton.

Chair of the management department, Siggelkow received the Class of 1984 Award for being the faculty member with the highest teaching rating in 2006, was the student-selected Faculty Marshal in 2010 and even made a guest appearance in the Wharton Follies in 2006. Siggelkow is also a co-director of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management, a Wharton research center that coordinates multidisciplinary learning between business leaders, academic researchers and students.

For more information on other defining characteristics of the MBA program at UPenn Wharton or one of 15 other top business schools, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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