MTSM Ph.D. Students Reflect on New Program’s First Semester

Written by: Julie Jacobs,
The doctoral program in business data science debuted fall 2016.

Big data has come to play a big role in today’s business environment, helping to drive dynamic decision-making and real-time operations management. Accordingly, NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management (MTSM) recently established a Ph.D. program in business data science, one of the first in the country, to integrate business analytics and management systems theory with statistics, computing science and engineering. The program is designed to produce graduates who can satisfy the growing need for data scientists with strong business and management skills. 

With the very first semester completed — the program debuted fall 2016 — students from the inaugural class share their thoughts on why they enrolled in the program, where they hope it will take them in their career, and how their experience has been thus far.

MTSM Ph.D. student Zhenrui Cao.

Zhenrui Cao came to NJIT after pursuing a graduate degree at Stony Brook University and then working as a bioinformatics consultant for two years. He has long been interested in applying new technologies, especially those related to big data analytics, to solving business problems. The Ph.D. program at MTSM, he shares, is “introducing leading-edge technologies into business and management science” and is a “perfect fit” for helping him advance in his career.         

“It was a great first semester,” Cao said. “MTSM opened a weekly seminar specifically for Ph.D. students where professors from either the school or invited from outside give talks about their recent research. These talks have not only broadened my views in current business research, but also provided me with opportunities to connect with faculty. I have been really enjoying my study.”

MTSM Ph.D. student Weizhi Chen.

Before attending NJIT for MTSM’s new Ph.D. program, Weizhi Chen, who comes from China, studied marketing at Purdue University Calumet. She then took advantage of a one-year Optional Practical Training opportunity, afforded to international students by the U.S. government, as a marketing adviser and customer relationship manager at a Chinese grocery market.

Chen found that she greatly enjoyed researching customer behavior in the marketplace and soon became inspired by the potential of applying big data to marketing applications. She says that with her newfound interest in big data, the Ph.D. program is a good fit for her in that it “perfectly links business, including marketing aspects, to data-rich environments.”             

The first semester proved to be a good learning experience for Chen. “Besides management and marketing, I have been able to explore different statistical approaches to scientific methods, programming and the use of different software to implement machine learning,” she offers. “I will be able to equip myself with the necessary knowledge to do marketing research in a data-driven environment.”

MTSM Ph.D. student Winfield Willis.

Winfield Willis ’15 (B.S. in international business) ’16 (MBA in finance) and former player on NJIT’s men’s basketball team, returned to NJIT after overseeing his father’s real estate development company for a bit and spending a short time at Morgan Stanley in Baltimore, his hometown. “The trends across all industries are leaning toward making solid business and financial decisions from data,” said Willis, who would like to use his Ph.D. experience, skills and research in industry. “I want to use the knowledge to help companies develop strategy and make decisions. My main goal is to become the go-to voice for making business decisions based on data.           

“I had a great experience,” he added about the first semester. “The exposure to different disciplines has been refreshing and challenging. The amount of new skills I have gained has been a blessing.”

MTSM Ph.D. student Shuai Zhao.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in information systems at Xidian University in China, Shuai Zhao worked as an Oracle financial enterprise-resource-planning consultant in Shanghai for one year. Then he joined the NJIT community in fall 2015 as a Ph.D. student in information systems and later transferred to MTSM’s Ph.D. program. He looks forward to doing research in data mining for business and studying the methodology of how to use technology to change the world.          

Now immersed in the program’s spring semester, and his fourth at NJIT, Zhao remarked how much he appreciates all the professors he has met at the university. “The professors here not only teach what the knowledge is, but also how and why it is. And they are very open to any questions and like to discuss them with students.”

Zhao wants to apply his Ph.D. experience to becoming a “data scientist, data scientist, data scientist. Important things should be spoken three times!”