Debra Schifrin

Lecturer, Marketing

Debra Schifrin

Lecturer in Management

Academic Area:


Debra is passionately creating innovative, interactive university courses and corporate training sessions to maximize learning and connection. A thought leader in improv-based teaching and consulting, Debra designs and leads corporate workshops on leadership, communication, collaboration, agility, and creativity. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, Debra teaches two MBA courses she co-created: Spontaneous Management, the school’s first improv-based MBA course, and Creativity in the Business Ecosystem. Spontaneous Management prepares students to become better leaders, managers, and team members. Creativity in the Business Ecosystem teaches students how to promote organizational creativity, analyze returns on innovation, and evaluate make-or-buy decisions.

Debra’s unique, enjoyable approach empowers business clients and students to improve team performance, productivity, culture, and engagement with colleagues and clients. Incorporating communication skills she developed as an on-air National Public Radio reporter, Debra helps her clients think on their feet and become more agile, engaging, and confident communicators.

Writing and publishing over 80 Stanford business cases taught in MBA classes at Stanford and other business schools, Debra has a wide breadth and depth of knowledge about strategy; marketing; product and social innovation; humor; and storytelling.

Before joining Stanford, Debra spent a decade as a reporter, director, and producer for National Public Radio and Marketplace. As a reporter, she engaged millions of listeners nationwide with her stories on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, and Day to Day. She produced thousands of breaking news and feature stories for All Things Considered and directed the live broadcast. While at All Things Considered, she produced stories for two Peabody Award-winning series.

A long-time improviser, Debra performs most weekends in San Francisco in many improv formats, including improvised musicals and improvised Star Trek (usually not at the same time). She proudly coaches the Stanford GSB’s improv performing team and club, the “Archuckle Fellows.”

Academic Degrees

  • MBA, Harvard Business School
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley

Academic Appointments

  • Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2019 - present

Professional Experience

  • Case Writer and Management Coach, Stanford Graduate School of Business (2008-2019)
  • Corporate Trainer, 2006-present
  • Reporter, Director, and Producer, National Public Radio & Marketplace (1994-2005)

Stanford GSB Affiliations

Insights by Stanford Business

March 12, 2021
In this podcast episode, we discuss how asking strong questions helps you build trust and connect with your audience.