Greg Fairchild
bschool professors greg fairchild
School: Univ. of Virginia - Darden
Age: 47
Fun fact: Fairchild was in fashion marketing at Procter & Gamble and Saks Fifth Avenue before teaching.

What started out as a trip to business school to get ahead in the fashion industry turned into a lifetime of teaching and research for Darden's Greg Fairchild.

Fresh out of college, Fairchild's landed a job at New York's Saks Fifth Avenue. As a manager in the women's department, his day-to-day tasks ranged from managing a team of eight to closing the deal on $6,000 couture dresses. When his mentor (senior VP of Saks) asked him how far he'd hoped to take his career, Fairchild replied that he had his sights set on general manager. So the mentor advised him that his ticket was the MBA degree.

As it turned out, Fairchild's advisor couldn't have been more wrong. "Out of 300 students in my MBA class, maybe three of us were from retail." Likewise, Fairchild says when he completed the degree, there weren't many retailers breaking their necks to put him on the "fast track."

Yet there was a silver lining. His time spent pursuing his MBA laid the ground work to a career in academia. Fairchild is now a recognized and influential business professor at Darden. He leaves the study of big business to his colleagues and instead focuses his research at the opposite end of the spectrum, honing in on an area he calls "emerging domestic markets." More specifically, Fairchild is interested in studying inner city communities and ways to apply big business principles in areas that are generally viewed as high-risk.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated October 30 2012 11:32 AM ET
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