Alumni Perspectives

Graduates of the Ph.D. in Operations Management program have gone on to become academics and researchers at some of the world’s most prominent institutions. Read their stories below:


Ibrahim Capar,

2016

Assistant Professor, Bowling Green State University

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

A friendly environment within and outside of the university.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

I was ready on day one. I knew what to expect and how to move forward.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

In my third year (at a doctoral colloquial), I realized that the ISM Department prepares its students way better for the job market. In a way, something that I used to receive exceeds expectations for many.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Learn how to program well at least in one programming language.

Cheryl Dale

Dean and Associate Professor, School of Business, WCU

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The instructors were helpful and encouraging. I also enjoyed working with other students and getting to know them.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

I currently teach courses in Operations Management and Statistics.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

When working on your dissertation, work on it every single day.

Ali K. Dogru

2018

Assistant Professor of Management, University of Southern Mississippi

Profile

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

Collegiality, academically challenging but rewarding Ph.D. program.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

In every possible way from academics to social networking.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

I strongly recommend Ph.D. in Operations Management at UA.

Mohammad Firouz

2016

Assistant Professor of Operations Management, University of Alabama at Birmingham

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The family atmosphere while having a solid academic experience.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

The support of the faculty is unique in this program and their insights into professional life are tremendously useful for life after the Ph.D.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

If you do not live a proper/balanced life, you will not be able to go far in a Ph.D. program and afterward.

Belleh Fontem

2014

Assistant Professor of Operations and Information Systems, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Google Scholar

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The mentorship of faculty.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

It gave me a solid set of tools, thereby allowing me to establish, and refine my research agenda.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

There are many things I took for granted in the program. Looking back, the Department exceeded my expectations.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Exploit the resources that you have at your disposal, and begin reading journal articles early. If your undergraduate institution/country doesn't have the tradition of continuous assessment or lots of graduate coursework, understand that the system in the US is different.

Nickolas Kirk Freeman

2014

Associate Professor of Operations Management, The University of Alabama

LinkedIn Google Scholar

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The faculty were very collegial, which made for a good environment, and they provided good support and examples for the students. I also enjoyed getting to know my student peers, many of who I continue to interact with.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

After working for three years at the University of Houston, I was fortunate enough to return to UA and my hometown. So, in my case, the Ph.D. experience essentially served as a preview for my current role.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

I would say that the department exceeded my expectations. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I came back. : )

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

My advice would be to pursue opportunities to gain practical experience in operations and network with practitioners. A major determinant of your success in a Ph.D. program, and in academia, is your ability to identify relevant business problems and methods or insights regarding how such problems can be addressed. Practical experience and connections with practitioners can make the process of problem identification much easier.

Jia Guo

2019

Assistant Professor, California State University, East Bay

Profile

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

I enjoyed the discussions with my advisor and peer colleagues.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

Definitely exceed!

Stephen Hill

2008

Associate Professor of Business Analytics, UNC Wilmington

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The opportunities to get to know and interact with the faculty.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

The teaching experience (in particular) was invaluable.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Be clear about your career objectives (Teaching-focused? Research-focused? Industry-focused?) and find a program that matches your objectives as best you can.

Kirstin Huettner-Tong

Doctor, home24 SE

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The support through my professors, the combination of research and industry project.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

It helped me to approach business processes in a methodological way, with deep operations knowledge.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Good analytical skills are required as well as the desire to work hard.

Rafay Ishfaq

2010

W. Allen Reed Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, Auburn University

LinkedIn Profile

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

I enjoyed being in a smaller doctoral program with caring faculty. In my doctoral program, I was taught by true scholars; Professor Schmidt and Professor Mittenthal, who were personally vested in my success as a doctoral student. Another key element of the doctoral program that was very useful was the flexibility that allowed me to take graduate courses in other Colleges and learn about qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The travel support helped me attend seminars and workshops at other Universities that helped with networking.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

Taking ownership of my dissertation prepared me to initiate and complete future research projects. I often say that Alabama not only helped me complete my doctoral dissertation but more importantly taught me how to develop new research ... it is very much like doing my "second" and "third dissertation."

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

I received all the support and encouragement during my time as a doctoral student at Alabama that I could have asked for.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Good academic research is tightly coupled with industry practice. Keep the focus on current and timely research topics. Also, use your time in the doctoral program to learn different methodologies and techniques. You will be surprised where these skills will come in handy in the future.

Isil Koyuncu

2020

Assistant Professor of Management Science and Statistics, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Website LinkedIn Google Scholar

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

I enjoyed being able to attend academic conferences as a Ph.D. student almost every year!

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

During my Ph.D. studies, I learned how to conduct systematic research, something I still do as an assistant professor. I had the opportunity to teach as a graduate instructor and gained experience on how to handle a classroom on my own. Additionally, I was involved in the UA INFORMS Student Chapter's activities, most recently as the president of the chapter, and had a chance to expand my network through the events we organized.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

Yes. I very much appreciate the collegiality and cohesiveness in the department.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Pursuing a Ph.D. is absolutely not an easy ride; choose your advisor and the projects you want to get involved in very carefully.

Marco Lam

2008

Associate Professor, Western Carolina University

Google Scholar

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The opportunity to work with organizations to improve their processes.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

It provided me with the foundation to take real-life problems from one organization into publishable solutions for many.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

Overall the program met my expectations but there are some areas (like support for students to be successful) where it exceeded my expectations.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Start on research early and find out if academia is for you.

Shrikanth Mysore

2005

Head of Data Science, Magnite, Inc

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

Practical experience with Theoretical Rigor.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

It has helped me to solve very complex problems practically with the needed mathematical and optimization background.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

OM has so many applications in industries that we didn't even imagine while getting PhD. Keep your eyes open to apply OM to new areas.

Malini Natarajarathinam

2007

Associate Professor, Texas A&M University

LinkedIn Google Scholar Profile Twitter

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

I enjoyed my classes and the faculty.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

During my time at Alabama, I was able to be a TA, RA, A TA coordinator, and an assistant at APC working on real company projects. All these experiences have helped me with every aspect of my current professional life. The heavy statistics focus has helped me with many qualitative research projects and data analytics projects. The other entity that helped me the most was the international student office. They helped, guided, and supported me the entire time I was there and helped me have a good transition to TAMU.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

They definitely exceeded my expectations.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Start with a good 5- year plan for research. This plan should guide you beyond your Ph.D. at least for a few more years. Understand what journals and organizations to be engaged with for your own publications and awards/other recognitions. Engage with your faculty and take as many classes as possible. This will help you decide what kind of a teacher you would want to be.

Nathan Palmer

2009

Senior Data Analyst - Supply Chain Network Design, Dealer Tire

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

The strong support from faculty to complete your dissertation in a timely and beneficial manner.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

I use what I learned in the program every day as I help my company make optimal supply chain network decisions and use advanced methods to make those decisions.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

Honestly, I didn't have a lot of context for what to expect. However, the experience I had at The University of Alabama was excellent! I grew in my career, my professionalism, and many other ways.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Decide early on if you will pursue a career in academics or in the "real world." The approach you take in writing your dissertation and in preparing for life after your Ph.D. will be very different depending on your choice.

Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab

1986

Managing Director, Egyptian German Automotive Co.

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

Excellent learning environment: the professors and the support they gave was exceptional.

How has the Alabama Ph.D. experience prepared you for your current work?

Even though this was more than thirty years ago, the system approach which was an integral part of the Ph. D. experience has remained with me as a way of dealing with complex practical problems.

Did the ISM Department and your cohort meet or exceed your expectations?

Yes, very memorable positive experience...

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Management?

Enjoy the experience!

Prashant Yadav

2004

Affiliate Professor, Lecturer, and Senior Fellow, Insead, Harvard Medical School, Center for Global Development

 

Jianing Zhi,

2016

Assistant Teaching Professor. Penn State Erie

LinkedIn

What did you enjoy most about the Alabama Ph.D. experience?

Working with my advisor, Dr. Burcu Keskin.

 

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