Why executives should consider a side career in teaching

For many executives teaching can be an interesting and worthwhile add-on to their career path as it is an intellectual challenge as well as a means of giving back. An article in the Harvard Business Review has some useful tips.


The Harvard Business Review recommends three strategies for business professionals to position themselves for an adjunct professorship, either as a part-time side project, or a potential career to step into post-retirement.

Strategy 1:

Identifying connections at the universities you’re interested in approaching. The article’s author Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, recommends LinkedIn but says that even tenuous connections can be useful.

Strategy 2:

Preparing a short pitch that doesn’t overwhelm with information. Clark recommends two paragraphs: One that includes a short bio – no Ph.D. is necessary according to the expert – but proof why the university needs you – academic credentials, previous teaching experience as well as professional expertise plus ideas about what sort of classes or programmes you could teach.

A good advice is to find a hole in the course catalogue that you could fill. “One way to do this is to compare and contrast between the offerings of different schools. If University A has a course in change management but University B doesn’t – and this is your area of expertise – then you may want to propose it, because similar schools obviously value the topic,” Clark writes.

Strategy 3:

Preparing a CV and syllabus of the course you propose to teach in case you receive a positive response to your inquiry. A syllabus should contain the course topics as well as the order in which they will be taught. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares a detailed guide on crafting a syllabus according to Clark who says that the process – which is essentially distilling your entire concept for the course – can take anywhere from five hours to dozens of hours, depending on the amount of research you feel you need to do.