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Sheena Iyengar, S.T. Lee Professor of Business Management, Columbia Business School, USA

Sheena Iyengar

S.T. Lee Professor of Business Management

Columbia Business School, USA

Sheena is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business Management at Columbia Business School and the Research Director of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business.

A world renowned expert on the subject of choice, she says that choice can provide a sense of freedom and control that is essential to our well-being. It is the most powerful tool we have to shape our lives, to go from who we are today to who we want to be tomorrow. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding and poor practice of choice often undermines its many benefits and leaves us frustrated, overwhelmed and unhappy. In her critically acclaimed book The Art of Choosing, called “refreshingly thought-provoking” by The New York Times and “a page-turning narrative that blends academic rigor with a pop culture sensibility” by The Boston Globe, Sheena shines a bright light on the many different facets of choice, exposing it in all its mystery, complexity and compelling beauty. The Art of Choosing is “provocative rather than prescriptive” (The Wall Street Journal), raising questions that many of us have never asked ourselves but should.

Sheena’s inter-disciplinary research on how and why we choose, and what we need to do to choose better, has surprising and profound implications for our personal and professional lives. Her insights are invaluable not only to businesses looking to improve strategy, leadership and customer relations, but to every individual trying to make positive and lasting changes to his or her life.

Sheena knows firsthand how the power of choice can transform lives. When she was three years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration. By 6th grade, Sheena had lost the ability to read, and by 11th grade, she had lost her sight entirely and could only perceive light. She was told by her high school guidance counselor that she shouldn’t bother applying to college.

Not only did Sheena choose to go to college, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in economics and a B.A. in psychology. She then earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford. The following year, her dissertation, “Choice and Its Discontents,” received the prestigious Best Dissertation Award for 1998 from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.

In 2002, she was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Social Scientists for her work on cultural differences in decision making. In 2005 she was invited to a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. She has written for CNN.com, Slate and strategy + business, and has been a guest on CNN, CNBC, CBS Sunday Morning News and The Today Show.

In 2011, Sheena was ranked 48th in the Thinkers50, the definitive listing of the world's top 50 business thinkers.

Sheena lives with her husband, Garud, and irrepressible son, Ishaan, in New York City.

Areas of Interest

- Choice
- Decision Making