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Lizhen Xu, Associate Professor of Information Technology at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business
Lizhen Xu, Associate Professor of Information Technology at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business

Lizhen Xu Named a Poets&Quants 2022 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor

“He developed a course on machine learning for business which is in high demand. He has conducted research projects with companies such as Dell and China Mobile with many research outcomes incorporated into their business. He has served as senior, associate, and co-editor of numerous publications and received the INFORMS Information Systems Society Sandra A. Slaughter Early Career Award, 2021. One of his papers is widely recognized as a pioneer work on attribution modeling. He emphasizes hands-on and experiential learning based on real-world datasets and business contexts.”

– Jonathan Clarke

Lizhen Xu, 38, is an Associate Professor of Information Technology Management at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business. 

Xu joined the faculty of the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business in 2011. In 2017, he was the youngest professor to receive tenure in Scheller at the age of 33. He received the prestigious INFORMS Information Systems Society Sandra A. Slaughter Early Career Award in 2021. 

He serves as the associate director of Georgia Tech’s high-profile multidisciplinary M.S. in Analytics (MSA) program and the co-director of Scheller’s Business Analytics Center. 

 

BACKGROUND

At current institution since what year? 2011
Education: 

  • Ph.D., Information Management, The University of Texas at Austin, 2011
  • MS, Economics, The University of Texas at Austin, 2008
  • BE, Computer Science, Tsinghua University, China, 2006

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Machine Learning for Business and Business Intelligence and Analytics

 

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when as a college student, I learned about the fascinating aspects of a business school professor’s professional life: teaching brilliant students about innovative business applications, doing cutting-edge research, and sharing novel ideas with scholars and practitioners around the world to generate impacts in various forms.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
Research:
  • Advanced analytics of attributing consumer conversions over various online and mobile activities
  • Economic models of artificial intelligence and the impacts on consumer privacy and business model design
Discovery:
  • By developing a novel analytics modeling framework based on stochastic processes, we found that the conversion effects of some user activities (e.g., clicks on display ads) are largely underestimated by traditional effectiveness measures and proposed a more reasonable measure of conversion effects.
  • We discovered the existence of economic rents in mobile advertising networks as a result of the unique business model and revenue sharing structure in such an ecosystem.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would probably be working on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley, developing quantitative methods to create new business values.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Solid background in quantitative analytics; Ability to explain technical concepts in accessible and relevant ways

One word that describes my first time teaching: Inspirational

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Long working hours and can never really get off work 🙂

Professor I most admire and why: My exceptional colleagues, who are the role models that inspire me to improve and excel every day! 

 

TEACHING MBA STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Actively exchanging ideas with students, who are mature, experienced, and often have great insights and novel perspectives

What is most challenging? Explaining highly technical concepts to those students without a strong quantitative background 

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Motivated

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Pretentious

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as  Fair and lenient

 

LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies? Traveling, reading

How will you spend your summer? Working on several research projects, and perhaps going on a vacation

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Europe

Favorite book(s): Dream of the Red Chamber, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? 
The Shawshank Redemption: Determination and perseverance
The Matrix: What makes humans human and the relationship with artificial intelligence

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Opera: the most comprehensive form of performing arts, which tells beautiful stories with touching voices, moving melodies, and charming performances.

 

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this  Encouraging and preparing students to delve deeper into the underlying mechanism or theories beyond the discussion of cases on the surface, because valuable business innovation originates from a deeper grasp of what is underneath the surface.
Along these lines, more experiential learning is also helpful.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Engaging closely with business schools during the entire process of education (e.g., learning about cutting-edge academic innovations, communicating industry needs, providing students with relevant real-world projects to work on, etc.) 

I’m grateful for … The opportunity to work as a business school professor as my career, interacting with brilliant students, conducting innovative research of my interest, and generating impact to society at large.

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