Innovation & Entrepreneurship

An innovative life: Kenan-Flagler professor brings life lessons in business strategy to classroom

Chris Bingham is an award-winning Kenan-Flagler professor who leads courses on business strategy to Executive MBA students.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Chris Bingham poses outside
Professor Chris Bingham, the Hettleman Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, leads courses for Executive MBA students. (Kenan-Flagler Business School)

Growing up, Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Christopher Bingham was practicing business strategy before knowing what it was.

He found ways to make money delivering papers, selling hot dogs, lifeguarding, waiting tables and running his own lawn-care and t-shirt business.

Innovation was always key. When Bingham was interested in snowboarding at an early age, he took a wooden board and had metal edges put on. He was curious and creative then, and still is.

In the 1980s, Bingham was a nationally sponsored snowboarder and was a first-hand participant in an emerging market.

Those concepts led him to business, but he wasn’t sure where he wanted to start. After earning an accounting degree, Bingham did stints at large and small companies: Deloitte Consulting, Price Waterhouse and McKinsey & Company.

Afterward, Bingham earned an MBA and master’s in international and area studies, followed by a doctorate in strategy.

All of Bingham’s interests came together at Kenan-Flagler Business School. After joining the faculty in 2008, he taught a core MBA course on strategic management for nearly a decade. There, students pitched business ideas to prominent CEOs while Bingham brought in dozens of nonprofits for students to work with.

He now leads courses on strategy and innovation for Executive MBA students and UNC Executive Development, all while serving as area chair of strategy and entrepreneurship and faculty director of the Entrepreneurship Center.

“As a teacher I try and tap into the experiences that are all around us in a classroom, especially in an executive classroom,” said Bingham, the Hettleman Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship. “When I’m with an executive audience they’re looking for solutions right now that can help the next day. It’s about, ‘Can this help me tomorrow morning?’ That’s what excites me and motivates me to make sure what I am teaching is both rigorous and relevant.”

Bingham loves the puzzle of business strategy and understanding why some organizations outperform others and win in their industry. He lives for pinpointing practices that help leaders make better decisions.

“I think one of our advantages as a school is that we have a high focus on application and relevance,” says Bingham. “There’s a real-world consequence of what we do in the classroom. Those coming to UNC want to drive change at a high level.”

Read more about professor Chris Bingham’s story.