“One of the great things about being at HBS is the sheer number of research opportunities.”
During my time in Columbus, I became enamored with the field of Operations Research. In particular, I enjoyed the application of mathematical techniques and economic reasoning to real world problems. This interest was fueled by interactions with tremendous scholars and organizations. For instance, while completing my master’s degree, I had the opportunity to work with American Electric Power toward developing a technique for accounting for both operational (for example, power plant failure) and price risk when selling electricity on power markets. After I completed my master’s, advice from my faculty advisors and from my father, who pursued a similar course of education, inspired me to continue on an academic track. Having experienced the difficulty of integrating operations research techniques, such as optimal inventory rules, into an organization, I was attracted to a degree in business because of the field’s focus on the organization as a whole—that is, the focus on the managerial challenge of ensuring that an organization operates exceptionally well. Harvard Business School, with its focus on research that impacts managerial practice, proved the perfect place to continue my studies.
My Research Interests
I’m in the late stages of a project with Ananth Raman and Nicole DeHoratius that examines how customers—with a focus on retailers—learn about and respond to changes in a supplier’s service level. In this work, we present a mathematical model in which a customer uses its supplier’s delivery performance to build beliefs about the supplier’s service level. From this model, we derive an empirical method for measuring the impact of changes in a supplier’s service level on a customer’s orders from the supplier. We employ data from Hugo Boss, a branded apparel manufacturer, to test the analytical model and to illustrate the measurement procedure.
My future research interests include studying how a firm’s capital structure affects operational outcomes for the firm and for the supply chains in which it operates, how contracts between firms affect the performance of a supply chain, and how operators should (and do) interact with investors. One of the great things about being at HBS is the sheer number of research opportunities. Because we come into contact with so many interesting perspectives and potential research sites, it is often difficult to narrow your focus to one or two choices.
The Technology and Operations Management Program
TOM has been the perfect program for me. The required coursework covers microeconomic theory, operations theory (for example, inventory theory), management theory, and statistical techniques for analyzing data. The opportunity to combine the rich doctoral courses offered by HBS with offerings from other Harvard departments, in particular the Department of Economics, has been amazing. The faculty is wonderful—both inspiring and encouraging. My advisor, Ananth Raman, is an excellent mentor and a passionate scholar.
The HBS Experience
Being a doctoral student at HBS is a great “job.” The first two years of the program combine intense coursework with compelling research opportunities, which are typically pursued in the summer. As I write this, I am between my second and third years. During the third year, I will complete the first semester of the MBA program. Afterward, I will transition into working primarily on research. Enrolling in the MBA program will be a nice catalyst for this transition, since MBA classes afford the opportunity to observe how the theoretical material we’ve learned connects to the interests of students and, ultimately, of practitioners.
The research resources of HBS and of Harvard at large never cease to amaze me. The scope of the libraries, the expertise of the research staff, which provides support on everything from obtaining data to structuring statistical analyses, and the generosity of the professors in terms of their eagerness to spend time developing doctoral students are all second to none. Further, the HBS faculty comprises influential academics and experienced practitioners, a mixture that is ideal for generating, framing, and exploring new research questions.
Boston is an exciting place to live. My wife, Emily, and I moved here from the Midwest and quickly fell in love with this city. The arts are abundant, from the excellent museums, many of which are near campus, to the Boston Pops (who are always great to hear at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River). My wife and I attend Red Sox and Celtics games whenever possible. In addition, there are a number of beautiful places nearby for a relaxing weekend retreat. We’ve visited places all over New England, from Cape Cod to Rutland, Vermont.
Advice for prospective doctoral students
HBS is an excellent school. If you enjoy combining theory with real world impact, and have an entrepreneurial research spirit, I can’t imagine a better place to be.