Sara Beckman, Haas School of Business

sara beckman

Haas School of Business Professor Sara Beckman. Peg Skorpinski photo.

Sara Beckman said her entry into teaching was almost accidental. At age 22, as a teaching assistant at Stanford University, she told a ranking faculty member that the course was big on jokes but short on teaching. After being asked to prove she could do it better, she wound up teaching the same course the next semester.

Her popularity in the classroom, she said, "is in part because I like exploring ideas and learning myself. I have a real interest in exploring a topic with students who are interested."

On Haas's faculty since 1988, Beckman is a senior lecturer in manufacturing and information technology, teaching introductory operations management and new product development. Her creative approach to teaching MBA students can be seen in her new product development course. Students organize themselves into teams to develop a product idea and finish with a prototype. Results have included a mat that folds into a children's play structure and a spill-proof portable coffee mug that attaches to backpacks by a carabiner clip.

Beckman has been a research adviser/collaborator for the last two years with Chad White, a doctoral student in environmental policy. He's one of her biggest fans.

"Sara is a thoughtful listener and level-headed researcher," White said. "She is methodical yet creative; patient and inspirational. It is Sara's thoughtful contemplation, insight, loving but firm manner that make her such an exceptional teacher. "

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