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Dean Kerwin Charles Episode Teaser

‘Career Conversations’ Podcast: Dean Kerwin Charles

Season 2, Episode 5: Kerwin Charles, Yale SOM Indra K. Nooyi Dean  


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Kerwin K. Charles is the Indra K. Nooyi Dean & Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Economics, Policy, and Management at the Yale School of Management. He is interviewed by Reeve Harde ’20.  

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About Kerwin Charles

During his scholarly career, Dean Kerwin Charles has studied and published on topics including earnings and wealth inequality, conspicuous consumption, race and gender labor market discrimination, the intergenerational transmission of economic status, worker and family adjustment to job loss and health shocks, non-work among prime-aged persons, and the labor market consequences of housing bubbles and sectoral change. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an elected fellow of the Society of Labor Economics. He serves on the board of trustees of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, is a member of the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee, and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Labor Economics.

Prior to joining Yale SOM as dean in 2019, Dean Charles was the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergmann Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He received his doctorate from Cornell University and taught economics and public policy at the University of Michigan before moving to the University of Chicago in 2005. He has received multiple teaching awards and his many academic leadership roles have included running centers and programs within the Harris School and serving as the school’s deputy dean and later its interim dean.


Dean Kerwin Charles (28:36) The commitment and passion with which people regard the mission of the school, and the role of that mission as they understand it played in luring them to SOM, is a stunning thing to experience up close.

Dean Kerwin Charles (03:05) When I knew myself, I would say my teens, I was always intrigued by the life of a professor in two ways. My mother is a teacher—my mother’s still alive and my mom taught throughout my life. I’m a huge admirer of my parents, who are both still living, and I know from their descriptions of their careers that my mom was a teacher and a headmistress, that the job she did as a teacher was the job she found most rewarding.

Dean Kerwin Charles (04:50) Economics, my love and affection for economics, came relatively late. I entered college and was a math major and was interested in mathematics and physics and things like that and stumbled into economics completely accidentally. I took a class; I remember my professor’s name is Phil Robbins. You got to take these distributional requirements. I sat in a class—it might’ve been the end of my sophomore year—and I sat through this lecture the first day, and I loved it. And then the second day I loved it more, and then I thought, I don’t want to do anything else; I love this thing right here. And the rest is history.

Dean Kerwin Charles (45:27)What is it that you cannot stop thinking about? What is it that is on your mind when you wake up in the morning? It might be a weird thing. It might be a thing that four other people you’ve ever met think about. But if you can’t stop thinking about the thing, pay scant attention to the income tables related to the thing—that is, maybe people doing the thing now don’t earn a lot of money. Find your passion and always pursue excellence.

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About Career Conversations

In this podcast series, SOM students sit down with alumni for a series of candid conversations about career paths, industries, opportunities for MBAs, and discussions on various career topics including work-life balance and creating a meaningful impact in business and society. This series is produced by and recorded at the Yale School of Management.