17 Nov 2023

New Faculty Profiles: Olivia Kim


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 leaders across the globe. We asked new faculty at HBS about their background, their new roles, and their interests.

Olivia Kim, assistant professor, Entrepreneurial Management

What is your educational background?
I pursued economics at Smith College for my bachelor’s. When I first started at Smith, I thought I’d pursue a degree in art-related fields. I took a gap year between high school and college to study abroad in Italy, so this was a natural next step. But to my surprise, I fell in love with economics when I took an intro macro course.

After graduating college, I gained exposure to financial economics as an asset management intern at UBS and as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board. My time at the Fed Board coincided with the Eurozone crisis, and I became fascinated by how credit markets have a lasting impact on the real economy through firm behavior and how firm dynamism, in turn, shapes the living standards of the owners and workers of these firms. My interest in these topics led me to pursue a PhD in finance at MIT Sloan.

What’s your area of research and what led you to it?
I love learning about how firms and households make financial decisions, especially through the lens of the family. We tend to think of firms as profit-maximizing entities making decisions that best represent the interest of shareholders, and we similarly treat households as a single decision-making unit. But firms are ultimately run by humans with personal preferences, beliefs, life events, and constraints, and households are families comprised of multiple members with their own private incentives. My goal is to broaden our understanding of how firms and households make decisions through this family perspective.

I grew up in a large family of small business owners and have seen many ups and downs of running a family business as my parents, relatives, and family friends weathered the 1998 Asian financial crisis. Many of my research ideas stem from my personal experience, and I’m passionate about doing research grounded in everyday challenges that firms and households face and can inform their decision-making.

What will you be teaching?
I will be teaching The Entrepreneurial Manager (TEM) course in the Required Curriculum.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an academic?
I’m not sure. I love doing research and can’t really imagine doing anything else. If I hadn’t pursued an academic career, I might have pursued a career in an art-related field.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. I moved to the States when I was a teenager and grew up in the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) area.

What is something you like to do outside of your academic work?
I like to paint.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?
I really like Joan Miró’s paintings. One of his lesser-known paintings I like is L’or de l’atzur. I highly recommend going to the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona.

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