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Benn Konsynski: Future Thinking

Cyberspace guru put the B in SOB (students of Benn)

by William Hedgepeth
photography by Kay Hinton

"I'm an SOB, and I'm proud of it," says a beaming Andrew Bate '01BBA, holding an armload of course material for the class on Patterns of Electronic Commerce he will be attending this evening in the auditorium here at Goizueta Business School. "In Atlanta and in the Southeast, being an SOB is a badge of honor. People know this, and they take you seriously. You get instant credibility."

A short distance away, surrounded by fans who seem to regard him with the reverence of a guru or a rock star, Professor Benn Konsynski informally holds forth among other bright-eyed SOBs-Students Of Benn-before entering to begin the class.

"Sure, I'm a fan of Benn's," Bate continues as he files into the auditorium. "People call him for advice, and he's always got the right advice. One guy swears he's a direct line to God. I know investors in town have said to me they're looking for what Benn's thinking. If he's involved, they want to be in on it."

Konsynski, who is teaching this class tonight on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, is not merely a PhD (in computer science from Purdue University); he's a genuine L. L. -- Living Legend.

SOBs (Students of Benn) lend their hands to shaping future commerce. (Left to right behind Benn Konsynski) Jason Tessler '01MBA, Dan Miller '01MBA, Geoff Knapp '01MBA, Keith Sauls '01MBA, Andrew Bate '01BBA, and Katie Brewer '01MBA

In the eyes of twenty-seven years worth of students-from the business school at the University of Arizona, Harvard Business School, and the last seven years at Goizueta -- as well as countless top corporate honchos across America, Konsynski is the digital business mentor of the new millennium. He is a computer scientist who studies the implications of emerging technologies in transforming market practice and new mechanisms of the market.

This course is being taught in the large auditorium, says Konsynski, because the number of students who signed up for it exceeded the seventy-eight seat capacity of the largest classroom. This left forty-eight business students on the waiting list in addition to a sizable number of students from the law school who felt the need to learn about all this. Students nicknamed the course "Business Sci-Fi" because it focuses on the future of commerce and the future of management.

Konsynski regrets that in an auditorium setting he can't do the kind of case teaching he adopted at Harvard and brought down here, so it has to be more lecture oriented. As he puts it, "It changes the pedagogy."

But few seem to mind. Then, too, a lot of people simply want to be around Konsynski, the George S. Craft Distinguished Professor of Business Administration in Decision & Information Analysis, who radiates a kind of pedagogic charisma all his own, complete with a glass eye that frequently seems to twinkle with delight. A man of medium height, with a full head of dark hair and matching mustache that parallels his trademark bow tie-which you can learn to tie yourself by checking the instructions on his website, http://www.emory.edu/BUSINESS/ -- he seems, for all his erudition, to be almost whimsical, in the manner of a more genteel Groucho Marx, as he paces back and forth before the audience.

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Letters to the Editor: Victor_Rogers@bus.emory.edu || Class Notes: eurec@emory.edu
Goizueta Business School Website: http://www.emory.edu/BUS/

Goizueta Magazine is published three times annually by Goizueta Business School of Emory University and is distributed free to all alumni and other friends of the business school. Produced by the Office of Public Affairs of Emory University. Send letters to the editor and other correspondence to Victor Rogers, director of communications, Goizueta Business School, Atlanta, Georgia 30322 or Victor_Rogers@bus.emory.edu or call 404.727.0568.

Copyright © 2001 Goizueta Business School/Emory University

Articles may be reprinted in full or in part if source is acknowledged.