GoAbroad Interview

Dr. Daniel Beunza - Assistant Professor of Management

Dr. Daniel Beunza - Assistant Professor of Management

Dr Beunza is Assistant Professor of Management at the London School of Economics. His research in sociology explores the ways in which social relations and technology shape financial value. His award-winning study of a derivatives trading room on a Wall Street bank traces the roots of extraordinary returns to the use of space and internal organization. Dr Beunza obtained his PhD from New York University and taught at Columbia Business School in New York City before joining LSE.

You have a PhD from New York University and spent time teaching at the Columbia Business School in New York as well, how did you get connected with the London School of Economics?

The connection was inevitable. I had known about the LSE from its reputation as progressive, metropolitan, and as a center of excellence. Then, starting in 2003 I began to get invited to seminars and conferences at the LSE’s Center for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR), which at the time was a pioneering place for the sociology of finance and was hosting some of the smartest academics I knew.

Every time I came to London to visit CARR, I was struck by the energy of the place. 

Dr. Daniel Beunza

Dr. Beunza in action!

What advice would you give to students preparing to head to the UK for the first time?

I have a crucial piece of advice. The UK is in many ways the cradle of the modern world. From politics, to fashion, to industry, this is where “it all began” in the 19th century. So the advice I would give is, be prepared for a daily lesson in history when you walk on the street. Whether it’s the buildings, the pubs, or the parks, London has a Victorian air to it that can feel like being in a period film. The campus of the London School of Economics is especially beautiful in that regard.

Your research area is sociology of finance, how are you able to apply this knowledge in teaching the Firms, Markets and Crises: Foundations in the Social Studies of Finance course?

The application is extremely direct. While sociology of finance can sometimes feel like a theoretical subject, the course is structured to be absolutely practical. It’s almost a tour around the various professions that make up finance: traders, brokers, investment bankers, securities analysts, high frequency traders, investor relations professionals, and even CEOs of large banks.

What are the typical characteristics of a successful LSE Summer School student?

Enthusiasm, curiosity, and an irrepressible willingness to discover what makes the world tick.

In your opinion, what is the biggest highlight of the summer program?

The industry speakers. I invite one per day, from leading portfolio managers to executives in nonprofit organizations that are seeking to improve finance. They always come at 12 p.m., and they are a fantastic break from the lectures. They also make the course incredibly personal and engaging. They make it special.

LSE’s Summer School specializes in the subjects of business and management, accounting, finance, law, economics, and international relations, what makes London such great place to study these topics?

London is, alongside with New York, the financial capital of the world. So I could hardly think of a better place to do this.

What can students expect to take away from their summer study abroad experience at LSE?

You should ask them! But, seriously, I’ve been surprised by how much my students enjoyed the course, being part of the group, and how they bonded. They created a Facebook page, posted photos, went on weekend trips together… after three weeks one of them wrote “London has changed me,” and the rest commented that they agreed!

Do you have any recommended literature for students before they travel to England?

I would recommend “Flash Boys”, by Michael Lewis. You cannot put it down once you start reading it. And we’ll talk about it in the course.

What has been your biggest achievement since joining the London School of Economics’ Department of Management?

I was very pleased to see that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission followed my suggestions and changed NYSE Rule 104 as I suggested. My current position as Chair of the Steering Committee of the Principles of Responsible Investment, an NGO that promotes a more environmental and social finance, also makes me proud.

What is the most fulfilling part about your work with the LSE Summer School program and serving as the lead lecturer for course MG301: Firms, Markets and Crises: Foundations in the Social Studies of Finance?

The lectures, and the participative style that Summer School allows me to have. I don’t just show PowerPoints to the students.

I like to ask questions, probe people, challenge students, and in general to have a continuous back-and-forth.