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"I got high teaching evaluations during my first semester teaching at McIntyre, and I owe them to the experience I was able to get at Tech."
"I got high teaching evaluations during my first semester teaching at McIntyre, and I owe them to the experience I was able to get at Tech."

Phd Success Story: Drew Hess

Drew Hess believes his endless curiosity, which he considers crucial for any PhD student, was stifled during his five-year career in the rigid world of banking.

"This type of undying curiosity isn't good for a lot of jobs where you're not expected to question too much," says Hess, who earned his PhD in strategic management from Georgia Tech in 2008. "Traditional school was difficult for me growing up because I was always trying to go off on tangents."

These days, his inquisitive nature is paying off, with the answers he's finding to his research questions attracting a lot of academic interest and accolades.

During his PhD studies, he became the first doctoral student at the College of Management to win a highly competitive Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship, worth $15,000, for his innovation-related research. And right after graduation, he won the 2008 Sloan Best Paper Award with Tech associate professor Frank Rothaermel for their holistic examination of strategies employed by pharmaceutical firms for innovating in the realm of biotechnology.

Now an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, Hess believes that his experience teaching classes on international business and strategic management while at Tech gave him a leg up in his job search, because doctoral students at some business schools don't get the opportunity to be instructors.

I got high teaching evaluations during my first semester teaching at McIntyre, and I owe them to the experience I was able to get at Tech.– Drew Hess

Balancing time-intensive teaching duties with his own class work and research was challenging for Hess, who entered the PhD program immediately after earning an MBA from Texas A&M University, in conjunction with his wife, Megan. They now have two young children, making his schedule particularly demanding.

"Success as a PhD student centers around your ability to remain diligent," he says. "I think it would be death for a PhD student to be a procrastinator because you often set the deadlines and expectations."

Hess says his time in banking got him interested in studying the role individuals play in contributing to innovation within firms. "There's a notion among many strategy researchers that the individual doesn't really matter too much when it comes to innovation; you just aggregate individuals and innovation magically happens," says Hess, whose work bridges strategic management with the more personalized field of organizational behavior. "I'm saying let's take another look at the individual."

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Susan Ambrosetti
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