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Five minutes with Angela Lee

Angela Lee is a Professor of Practice and the Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School.

What do you love about teaching with cases?

I love how cases combine theory and practice. Sometimes a concept can be hard for a student to grasp when explained theoretically, and to see their eyes light up with understanding through applied learning is something I never get tired of seeing. 

Zoom game

Can you share your top tip for using cases online?

This isn’t ground-breaking, but my top tip is simply to do a mock lecture and create a really detailed set-up checklist. 

There is more prep to think about when teaching online and the more you can work out any issues during your mock lecture, the better.

For example, will your ‘board’ be a blank PowerPoint slide or the zoom whiteboard? Will you use your mouse to take notes or an attached tablet with stylus? Where will you put the chat window so you can see student comments while you teach? What do you need in front of you to teach effectively?

I have about 15 items on my checklist. I print it and go through it every single time I teach.

What’s your favourite case, and why?

My favourite case is one that I wrote from a project that I did when I was a consultant at McKinsey (with sanitised data, of course). I like it because depending on the course, it can be a leadership case, an organisational change case, a strategy case, or a finance case. There are a lot of layers to unpack and it makes for a rich case discussion.

chef If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?

I’d be a chef. When I applied to business school I applied to culinary school at the same time. I dabbled in professional kitchens for a couple of years leading up to that time. I realised I didn’t want cooking to be my entire life but for a week it would certainly be fun!

I recently had the chance to merge my two passions and train some of the faculty at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York City – which was very fun. 

How do you relax?

Besides reading recipe books and cooking, my husband and I play a lot of board games.  Quarantine has been tough, but one cool thing that has emerged is how many game manufacturers have adapted their games for online play. We have a weekly Zoom game going and it’s been a nice silver lining of 2020. 

Do you have a favourite quote or guiding principle?

I read the "only do things if they are a hell yes" advice somewhere a long time ago.

I wear a lot of hats – I teach at Columbia, I run the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center there, and I am the founder of 37 Angels, an investing network that evaluates 2,500 companies a year.

Justin Trudeau I have also had the privilege of advising Canada President Justin Trudeau (pictured, Angela second from the left) on how to increase diversity in entrepreneurship, something I am passionate about.

Because of all this, I’m a bit of a productivity junkie. I read that somewhere a long time ago and it really stuck with me. It makes it easier for me to prioritise and focus on the things that really matter. 

About Angela

Angela Lee is a Professor of Practice and the Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School. 

She teaches Venture Capital and Leadership, and brings 20 years of innovation, strategy and entrepreneurship experience to the classroom. She started her career in product management and then moved into strategy consulting at McKinsey. 

Angela leads the popular online Successful Case Teaching workshops for The Case Centre. Find out more about the next opportunity to attend this workshop here.

In March 2020, Angela led a free webinar for The Case Centre, Moving Case Teaching Online Quickly – Best Practice. You can watch a recording of the webinar below.

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