Lovely start to 2018

Received a new year greeting from a former student today:

Happy new year to you! Long time have not contacted you but I really want to thank you again at this time for the IS intro courses you brought to me! I am now doing a tech-startup intern which is platform-oriented, and I found the concept I learnt from the course really helps me understand the work and think about the business logically. I am now doing the major of dual degree in CS and business and want to explore the tech industry more. Hope I have the chance in the future to hear great insights from you like I did in the 2010 courses! Thank you so much! Wish you a happy and enriching 2018!

It is always nice to hear from students that what they learnt in my courses actually help them in their work and cause them to explore more. Coincidentally, I was in the middle of preparing and revising the syllabus for the said Intro. to IS course for the coming semester when I received the email. For the last few years, my colleagues and I have been teaching this course in a “reformed” way: instead of simply teaching off an introductory textbook, we try to make the course more relevant and applicable by covering certain key IS topics and ideas in today’s economy (e.g., platform economics, social media strategy, big data analytics, etc.) as well as traditional core IS concepts. However, some students feel that the way  this course has been taught does not help them in the other IS courses that they take subsequently. A senior colleague heard such feedback and suggested that we should perhaps teach the Intro. to IS course in a more “traditional” manner — just like how introductory courses for marketing and accounting are being structured, where the focus is on the fundamentals, basic principles, etc. in the respective disciplines. Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to decide whether/how to revert the course to the way it was taught in the old days and which topics to drop. Well, the student’s greeting just made the decisions clearer.



Back in the game…

I always have a soft spot for tech startups. I co-founded one when I was a college freshman many years ago — that was way before when launching a startup is cool and fashionable. Running that startup was fun and exciting but it also brought along a great deal of uncertainty, a tad too much for my wife’s comfort. After a number of years with that startup, I took a difficult decision to exit it so as to pursue a Ph.D.. But who knew that grad school was fun and exciting but it also brought along a great deal of uncertainty, a tad too much for my wife’s comfort… 🙂 (Doing Ph.D./research actually shares many similarities with running a startup; I will save that topic for another post.)

So when I received my Ph.D., I promised my wife that I would behave myself and focus on my academic career for 6 years — that’s roughly the amount of time needed for a rookie assistant professor to beef up his profile to apply for tenure. No startups (or other funny ideas) before that. Nevertheless, due to my work and research interest, I have many opportunities to advise startups. Although a few of these startups have interesting business propositions, I always resist the temptation to be too involved in them.

Well, the situation has just changed. Some months ago, I was roped into a tech startup by a friend, taking a non-executive role. I can’t reveal much about the company at this point, but I can say that it is involved with a pretty exciting technology. One that I believe is going to be the backbone for many tech trends and products in the future. And one that passes the “strategic value” criteria that I talk about in class; sometimes you just have to walk the talk and put the money where your mouth is…

It is not all rosy

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the feedback that I shared on this website about my undergraduate course Introduction to Information Systems (ISOM2010) is mainly positive. I feel I should also show other types of feedback that I have received so as to give a more accurate picture. However, students only email or tell me about their course experience when they have nice things to say (understandably so). Although students had given some not-too-positive feedback in the course evaluation previously, those comments were usually not very “juicy” in the sense they were mainly about the heavy workload, etc., which I actually show to current students in class so as to help them manage their expectation. So I thought I should wait for the latest evaluations to come in and see if I can put together more “dark side” of my teaching before making a post. Right from the first lecture in this semester, I could sense that the vibe among certain students in one of the sections (L2) wasn’t too positive.

Well, I received the evaluation reports this morning and I must say that this year’s students, especially those from L2, did not disappoint. A few students wrote passionately about their horrible experience with my teaching. In fact, I was so bad that I achieved a personal career low instructor rating. A pretty humbling experience, I must say. Below, I provide this semester’s evaluation reports in their entirety. This information will help future students who are enrolled in my ISOM2010 course (or thinking to do so) to know what to expect and perhaps run away (i.e., ditch the course) while they can. For good measure, I’m including the evaluation report for the MBA course on digital marketing (ISOM5390) that I taught in this semester too.

[Quick tip for navigating the reports: Q11 is the instructor rating score; Q14 is about the weak points of the course/instructor.]

ISOM2010 L1:

Download (PDF, 130KB)

ISOM2010 L2:

Download (PDF, 134KB)

ISOM2010 L3:

Download (PDF, 129KB)


Download (PDF, 150KB)

Early feedback for ISOM2010

Although there are two more lectures to go for the undergraduate course Introduction to Information Systems  (ISOM2010), I have received a student’s feedback about the course.

It is my pleasure to be in isom 2010 course this semester which refresh my mind a lot about the newest trend in IS as well as the details and situations behind them. Before taking this course, I know little about the topics like big data and analytics, however, this course gives me more insights and understanding about them and motivates me to self-learn and read more readings related to machine learning and related stuff. The presentation has also reinforced my understanding about IS concepts as well. The whole course is well-designed, I really love this course a lot and it also triggers me to take ISOM as my major in the future!

The pleasure is all mine. It is a bit early to receive course feedback, but I’m not complaining, especially when the feedback is positive 🙂 It’s always nice to know the planned course activities/readings/topics have some intended effects on some students.

Less is more?

Over the past few years, I have coached a number of undergraduate teams for international case competitions. We would have regular trainings over a few weeks, I would accompany them to the competitions, etc. None of these teams proceeded to the finals despite performing well.

Earlier this semester, I advised two of my MBA students who were participating in separate case competitions. This week, they informed me that their teams did quite well in their respective competitions. One team won the International Business Ethics Case Competition and the other came in Second Place for the Wake Forest Case Competition. All in all, I spent at most 3 hours on one of these teams and not more than 1 hour with the other. So, maybe less is indeed more — less involvement from me = more success for my students 🙂

Digital and Social Media Strategy for MBAs – 2nd run

Just wrapped up the MBA course on digital and social media strategy (ISOM5390). Once again, I’m fortunate to have a great group of eager and motivated students to keep me on my toes.

Happy ending with the 2nd batch!

After the last class, I received feedback from some of the students about the course:

Since this class material was new to me, this was not easy task for me. However, I will be involved in the marketing project after  MBA, so this class was practical and helpful for me to understand how to think about marketing. Thank you for your class. If I can, I want to take your class again.

I want to thank you again for your class, it is beyond my expectation. As I mentioned in last class, this course brings fresh knowledge about social media and those guest speakers’ insightful sharing did put us in a real business world, so it was a very pleasant and achieving learning process. Hope more of other future MBA students can benefit from your course!

It is one of the most practical class I had so far. Will definitely recommend to other MBAP (especially marketers). THANK YOU again.

Glad to know that some students found the course valuable.

The perfect publication record for getting tenure?

  1. Top-tier publication single-authored by yourself — shows that you can work independently.
  2. Top-tier publication with a peer — show that you are a team-player.
  3. Top-tier publication with a student — shows that you can supervise someone.
  4. Top-tier publication with a senior scholar in your field — show that you can be supervised by someone.
  5. Top-tier publication in another field (e.g., quantum physic) — show that you are inter-disciplinary.
  6. Article in a top practitioner journal (e.g., HBR, Sloan Review) — shows that your research has some practical impacts.
  7. A book about that centres around your research topics/streams. (But if it doesn’t get onto the New York Times best-sellers, it doesn’t count.)

And I still haven’t checked off the first item on the list.

Webinar — been there, done that….

Offered a webinar on “Platform Disruptions” for the HKUST Business School’s Executive Education Office. It was a pretty fun and eye-opening experience for me. The technical setup was pretty simple; in fact, the technology for conducting such remote teaching seems pretty matured.

Behind the scene -- all the equipment to produce the webinar...

Behind the scene — all the equipment to produce the webinar…

There were about 20+ participants who logged in during their lunch break for 30-min talk. The main challenge I found is the lack of direct interaction between the participants and I. Although you can run simple polls or MCQs during the webinar to stimulate participation and engagement, these just aren’t the same as the interactions in a traditional classroom setting. Would love to challenge myself to give another webinar more creatively.

Feedback on new MBA course

I developed and delivered a new course on Digital and Social Media Marketing for the MBAs in the last semester. And I was fortunate to have a fantastic group of students for the first run of the course.

The inaugural MBA class on Digital and Social Media Marketing

I’m quite happy with how it turned out and, based on the the course evaluations, I think the students had a positive experience too. Some of the students’ feedback:

A lot of very insightful digital marketing strategies were shared and discussed in the lecture.

It taught me a new thing because I don’t know anything about digital marketing at the first time. On top of that, the class challenges your logic as the prof keep answering us with new questions that enrich the class discussion.

Current day digital marketing trends shown in the class. Great teaching skills by professor

Looking forward to the next run of the course!

Executive Ed @ CITIC Pacific

I had the privilege to conduct a workshop on “Platform Strategy” for senior executive from CITIC Pacific. It is always exciting to share insights into my favourite topic with others. A fun exercise during the workshop was to re-model one of CITIC’s existing businesses into a multi-sided platform.

One thing that I enjoy about Executive Education is the challenge to apply concepts into specific contexts that matter to the executives. This really pushes me to think very carefully in planning and delivering the course.