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Jerry Wind, Wharton School

Jerry Wind is an award-winning educator and marketing professor. He is Lauder Professor Emeritus and Professor of Marketing at top business school, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Wind is also the founding director of the Wharton Think Tank, which aims to bring the knowledge of the worlds to the school. The PIE spent five minutes with Wind to reflect on his life, career and achievements.


"If you're looking for role models, look outside your industry, outside your specialisation"

Describe yourself in three words or phrases.

A renaissance person.

Tell us a bit about your career.

For 50 years, I was full time. I was a chaired professor and I ran the marketing department and I ran the Wharton think tank. Over the years, I established a number of programs like the Lauder Institute, the Wharton Executive MBA – the MBA curriculum of the 90s which got us to number one in Businessweek ranking.

In 2017, after 50 years, I took emeritus status which allowed me to do whatever I want to do without having to be on campus every day.

What do you like most about your job?

Since I’ve run my own centre, the freedom. I was able to do it the way I wanted to. All the universities are enormously bureaucratic and very conservative but because I ran my own centre, I was able to follow the rule of ‘it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission’.

I just did things that I enjoyed and that’s the reason I was able to do all these programs. Otherwise there’s no way.

“I was able to follow the rule of ‘it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission'”

Can you tell me about a defining moment in your career?

The most defining one was the kind of the beginning. I was a research assistant both in marketing and business administration and in political science, and was debating between a doctorate in either of these two fields. I had two opportunities. One was to go to Stanford for the Ford Foundation program for a year, which was for junior faculty from underdeveloped countries – Israel [where I am from] was considered underdeveloped at the time – or to go to Europe for a doctoral program in comparative government. I decided to go to Stanford, to the Ford Foundation program and stayed there for two more years and got my doctorate.

The other big defining moment was 29 years ago when I co-founded a university in Israel, the interdisciplinary centre Herzliya, which is now the Reichman University.

The third defining moment would be taking my emeritus status and being able to reallocate my time.

Which sector champion/cheerleader should we all follow and why?

I think I look at people who are really coming up with innovative new approaches. In the educational field, I think that what Ben Nelson has done with Minerva is courageous and innovative. I wish more leaders in the education field had the courage that he had to develop new approaches.

Another person from a totally different area would be Jeremy Rifkin who’s one of the most prolific thought leaders in the world. He wrote The Third Industrial Revolution, plus many others. I’ve worked with him on a number of things and I am working with him now on his current book and he’s terrific. If you want really to understand the changing the world, the challenges and opportunities, I would go to someone like Jeremy Rifkin.

I would suggest that if you’re looking for role models, look outside your industry, outside your specialisation. Look for people who think differently in other areas and try to bring them to your area. There is no problem in the world that can be solved with a single discipline. To solve any problem that we face, we have to deal with an interdisciplinary approach.

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