Shawn Cole is the John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he teaches and conducts research on financial services, social enterprise, and impact investing. Much of his research examines household economic decision-making in emerging markets, with a focus on finance (e.g., weather insurance) and agriculture. His recent research focuses on designing and delivering advice and education over mobile phones, with an emphasis on agricultural and financial management. He has worked in China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Vietnam. He is an affiliate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development. He is on the board of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, as the co-chair for research.
At HBS, Professor Cole teaches a course on impact investing, as well various executive education courses. He currently teaches the PhD development sequence in Harvard’s Department of Economics, and a seminar at the Harvard Kennedy School. He co-founded Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a non-profit which provides mobile-phone based agricultural advice to smallholder farmers to support both income gains and environmentally sustainable practices. PAD currently reaches over 1 million farmers.
Before joining the Harvard Business School, Professor Cole worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the economic research department. He has served on the Boston Federal Reserve's Community Development Research Advisory Council, served as an external advisor to the Gates Foundation, and was the chair of the endowment management committee of the Telluride Association, a non-profit educational organization.
Professor Cole received a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005, where he was an NSF and Javits Fellow, and an A.B. in Economics and German Literature from Cornell University. His work on insurance earned the 2015 Shin Research Excellence Award; in 2015 he was also named given a Faculty Pioneer Award from the Aspen Institute.