24 Nov 2021

New Faculty Profiles: Edward McFowland III


HBS faculty comprises more than 300 scholars and practitioners who bring leading-edge research, extensive experience, and deep insights into the classroom, to organizations, and to managers. We asked new faculty at HBS about their background, their new roles, and their interests. Over the next few weeks we will share their answers.

Edward McFowland III, assistant professor, Technology and Operations Management

What is your educational background?
From my undergraduate through my PhD, I was a student at Carnegie Mellon University. I was always a curious and interdisciplinary thinker, so I studied topics from information systems and management to machine learning and statistics. Nine years and five degrees later, I moved to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, where I was a faculty member for six years.

What’s your area of research and what led you to it?
Because of my interdisciplinary nature, my area of research really sits at the intersection of a few different technical disciplines and application areas. At a high level, I develop (and utilize) machine learning methods to engage in large-scale analytics and data-driven decision-making in complex management and policy settings.

As far back as I can remember, I have had a fascination with computers (and technology more broadly) even before I completely understood what they truly were. Moreover, I have always wanted my life to have a profound impact on the world around me. Growing up, I often felt I had to accept the world as it was and, therefore, I have always been driven to help improve the world into what it could be. While at Carnegie Mellon, I just so happened to find this unique PhD program offered by the Heinz College, with a growing interest in machine learning and public policy. This led me to think critically about how machine learning can (and has) begun to impact a broad array of social science disciplines and various aspects of management.

What will you be teaching here?
During my first year I will be teaching a Technology & Operations Management course in the Required Curriculum (RC), but, as time progresses, I hope to teach courses at the intersection of machine learning and management.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a professor?
Well, what I would want to be doing is pitching and/or playing third base for the Saint Louis Cardinals. But after high school I had to accept that I was a far better academic than I was an athlete.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri; this may provide valuable context for my previous answer.

What is something you like to do outside of your academic work?
I love playing sports generally, and right now it is primarily tennis and basketball. I also love traveling and exploring new cultures, foods, and languages; in the past few years I have been concentrating on all things Italian.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?
It’s hard to narrow things down here, but if I must choose just one book I’d say A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it was the first novel I truly fell in love with reading.

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