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PhD Student and Alumni Profiles
Matt StephensonPhD student, Management
“It’s easier to stand on the shoulders of giants if you’re passing them in the halls,” says Matt Stephenson about why he chose Columbia Business School.
“I’m interested in social norms, trust, and deception — aspects of human behavior that are so fundamental that they are easy to overlook,” he says. “Analyzing the way in which these foundational aspects of society are contributing factors in firm structure, productivity, and economic growth feels especially important.”
“I’d say my experience has been a great one thus far. More specifically, I think the Columbia Business School environment is remarkable in its research focus. From the first week, my courses have had components requiring original research proposals, and these proposals received high-quality feedback from leading scholars.”
“I intend on becoming a professor, and Columbia’s record of placing students at top academic institutions is enviable. Succeeding in such a position means writing and publishing journal articles and here too I feel I am getting world-class preparation: during my first year I became involved in three active projects, which have the aim of being published. Ultimately my goal is to become a producer of knowledge and I feel I am definitely pointed in the right direction.”
Nea GnepaPhD student, Finance
"I chose Columbia because I wanted to receive a state-of-the-art education from a renowned university. Plus, Columbia is in New York, which is certainly attractive to anyone that is interested in finance and the stock market."
As a first year student Nea's primary focus has been in the classroom. "The course content so far has been great. I am getting a strong foundation in microeconomics and econometrics that I can build upon. I have also improved my skills in MATLAB, Excel, C++, Stata, and Latex. The faculty do a great job at making the homework assignments fun, interesting, challenging, and relevant to current topics of interest in finance."
Gnepa says the people have been an important part of the experience. "The community here is very welcoming and a great resource for questions about classes or anything else. I've become great friends with the other first-year PhD students in my Department."
Yena KimPhD student, Marketing
Yena Kim chose to pursue a career in research after working for a consulting firm. “I gained interest in analyzing data and solving problems, and wanted to learn the skills of doing analytical work (both theoretical and empirical).”
“I wanted to get the best training as a doctoral student. Relatedly, Columbia had amazing professors and colleagues. Professors in our department welcome any student who wants to talk about any matter, whether it is related to school, research, or your personal life.”
“My research mostly focuses on the entertainment business,” Kim says. “I like to look at questions about how to design a product, which includes pricing and advertising strategies, that can aid the success of the firm.”
Thus far, the interdisciplinary approach to coursework has been a highlight for Kim. “Columbia offers both interesting and useful courses for their students. I have taken classes from many departments including Marketing; Economics; Statistics; Decision, Risk, and Operations; and Computer Science.”
Pablo SlutzkyPhD student, Finance
Pablo Slutsky’s path toward the Doctoral Program started in Argentina after two years working in academia. “I love to work in an environment that is constantly challenging ideas and looking to expand the frontiers of science,” he says.
When asked why he chose Columbia, Slutsky includes, “the faculty, the track record of placements, the reputation of the University, and the location.”
In his second year in the Doctoral Program, he has found the relationships particularly helpful. “Classes are challenging, but I found great support from my classmates. And if we cannot solve something, the faculty are there to help us. I was surprised by how open and accessible professors are. Just sending an email to faculty who didn’t know me was more than enough to receive valuable advice and find joint projects to work on.”
“I plan to graduate and seek a career in academia. A degree from Columbia University will definitely help me, not only with the skills needed, but also with a top quality network.”
Colleen HonisbergPhD student, Accounting
Coleen Honisberg expresses great passion about her experience in the Doctoral Program, from admittance through research. “I was thrilled when I was admitted to Columbia Business School, and that feeling of excitement still greets me every day in my third year of the program. I've found every professor to be not only friendly and helpful, but also knowledgeable of current academic research and how it applies to the real world. I’m also extremely grateful to my classmates for their willingness to spend hour after hour helping me with our assignments.”
Honisberg’s research focuses on the intersection of law and accounting, such as corporate governance and securities law. “I feel so lucky,” says Honisberg, “to have the support of both the Law and Business schools.”
Juan ChanetonPhD student, DRO
“I chose Columbia and in particular the DRO Division because it is a challenging program where students are encouraged to gain a broad spectrum of knowledge before they dive into research,” says Juan Chaneton. “And when they do, they are able to decide their own research path, and work with leading academics of different areas.”
Thus far, Chaneton has found the program experience rewarding. “The professors, staff, and fellow students are always willing to help you with what you need. And being subway distance to the heart of New York certainly does not hurt."
Erin KoganPhD student, Finance
“I was working in the finance industry and I knew it was not my future,” Erin Kogan says. “I needed something more, I needed a challenge and intellectual stimulation."
She found that in Columbia Business School’s Doctoral Program. “Where would I rather be? Aside from the NYC experience and how prevalent a subject finance and economics is here, it is simply a wonderful School with brilliant minds and ample resources.”
“The first couple of years in the program were a great opportunity to build relationships and get a solid foundation for research and the research process. The courses and exams were challenging and gave me an opportunity to focus on the material and literature.”
Daniel HePhd student, Marketing
Daniel's interest in consumer behavior began early in his undergraduate career, after deciding on pursuing a Doctorate, he knew Columbia Business School was the best destination. “I wanted to come to Columbia because the strength of the research and mentorship here is second to none. Of the papers I encountered in my undergrad research assistantship and coursework, many of my favorites originated from the marketing professors here. I feel very lucky to collaborate with them on our own research projects now.”
“One thing I really like about the program is the emphasis on bridging behavioral and quantitative marketing. Faculty members on both sides have an appreciation for research in each others' specialties, and they cultivate this appreciation for interdisciplinary research in all of the students. Although pushing your comfort zone by venturing outside of your specialization can certainly be challenging, I'm really glad that, as a behavioral student, I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the work that my friends and colleagues on the quantitative side do.”
Ivana KaticPhD student, Management
Ivana Katic’s passion for research began during her undergraduate studies. “I was fortunate enough to work in several research labs, on projects ranging from perceived mental control to group dynamics in counterterrorism teams. Most importantly, I was exposed to brilliant faculty who loved their work — which was clearly contagious.”
“Columbia offers an incredible PhD program in Management. The relatively small size of the program allows us to work closely alongside some of the premier organizational scholars in the world. Additionally, for a truly multidisciplinary program like ours, the availability of great disciplinary departments on campus (such as Psychology, Sociology and Political Science) is very important. Last but not the least, we are located in the best city in the world.” “I am incredibly lucky to work with Professor Paul Ingram. He has taught me all I know about crafting a research project from start to finish. It’s also been a great learning experience to observe and assist him in the EMBA classroom over the years. Other faculty members have been instrumental to my development as a scholar, as well — from offering advice on projects to providing moral support through the various inevitable challenges of the publishing process.” “My plans for the future will ideally involve an academic job at a research-focused university, one that I would hopefully come to love as much as I do Columbia.”
Hyung Il OhPhD student, Accounting
At Columbia, Hyung Il Oh has found great value in the ties between the PhD and MBA programs. “MBA classes have provided inspiration for my research,” says Oh. “I’ve had many real-world related research ideas from these classes.”
“I like the research culture at Columbia Business School. I haven’t felt any pressure of short-term achievements. My advisor and the other faculty members have waited patiently for me to find a research topic that I am really excited about. At the same time, it is very easy to reach these world famous professors for any kind of help. Most of them have an open door policy. Also, the Business School has great staff members who provide excellent support in all areas (the administration, IT, and the libraries, and so on).”
Shiri MelumadPhD student, Marketing
Shiri Melumad is focused on how emotions influence consumption-related decisions. “My interest in consumer behavior developed throughout my undergraduate studies in psychology,” she says, “during which I became interested in the practical implications of the interplay between affect and behavior.”
“My experience in the marketing program has exceeded my expectations,” Melumad says. “Beyond the theoretical foundation established through my coursework, I have received invaluable practical training and guidance from my distinguished advisers who have been consistently supportive and encouraging.”
Melumad says the people have been an important part of the experience. “There is a tight-knit community amongst the marketing students, and the relationships I have formed have been both professionally and personally rewarding. Overall, the department fosters a very open and collaborative environment in which to exchange and develop ideas with faculty as well as fellow students”
Eric AnicichPhD student, Management
From a young age, Eric Anicich was interested in the drivers of human behavior. Pursuing a PhD in the Management Division was one way for him to explore his questions in greater depth and in a context with real-world implications.
“Columbia is a natural fit for me,” he says. “The Management Division is comprised of highly productive faculty members doing some of the most exciting work in the field and the University is located in one of the most dynamic cities in the world. That’s a tough combination to beat.”
Much of Anicich’s current research examines the consequences of social, structural, and cultural hierarchy on important individual and group outcomes. “My goal is to join the faculty of a top-tier business school where I can continue to pursue high-quality, high-impact research among like-minded colleagues,” he says.
Charlene ChenPhD student, Marketing
Charlene Chen enjoys deciphering the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the people she observes in everyday life. “In particular, I have always been interested in consumers’ judgments and decision-making in response to offerings in the marketplace,” she says. “This led me to conducting research in social psychology and consumer behavior. Doing a PhD allows me craft this ‘hobby’ into a profession.”
“Columbia Business School has an excellent Marketing Division. At Columbia, I get to exchange ideas with world-class researchers, who constantly challenge and encourage me to develop different perspectives to important issues and to discover new sources of inspiration. I was particularly attracted to the vibrant research environment and rigorous training by dedicated faculty here at the business school, and of course, the allure of living in New York City!”
“As aptly put forth by Sir Isaac Newton: ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ At Columbia Business School, I have wonderful mentors that are highly involved and dedicated to the projects that we are working on together. I feel deeply honored to be able to discuss and develop new ideas with them because they are such brilliant, distinguished scholars in their fields.”
“I have learned in the PhD program that studying consumer behavior is both a science and an art. I strive to be a great scientist and artist in the field of consumer research, to pursue academic research that matters in the real world, and to be an effective and nurturing teacher to my future students.”
Mattia LandoniPhD student, Finance
When choosing between Columbia’s finance program and an economics program somewhere else, Mattia Landoni’s decided to join Columbia for a somewhat unique reason. “Columbia's edge was that it was much easier to reach for all my European friends and family,” Landoni says. “This may seem an unorthodox criterion, but the academic quality of both places was very high, so deciding based on that alone was hard. New York itself wasn't the reason, as I predicted (correctly) that I wouldn't have a lot of time to actually enjoy its attractions.”
Landoni’s research is focused mainly on taxes. “Both from the perspective of an investor trying to minimize the taxes on her investments (optimal portfolio),” Landoni says, “and from the perspective of a policymaker trying to set up a tax code with certain characteristics (public finance).”
Classes at the School were good preparation. “The coursework helped in a peculiar way — it made me insensitive to math-pain. Math is like grammar. You have to exercise a lot so you can use it without thinking about it too much. If you get lost in the math, you forget the big ideas.”
In the end, Landoni is happy with the choice to attend Columbia. “It is a privilege to have access to such a collection of incredibly smart people; being able to sound off your ideas with them.”
Nicholas ReinholtzPhD student, Marketing
Nicholas Reinholtz’s interest in human behavior and decision making goes back to childhood, and it has grown organically over time. “Studying judgment and decision making as a PhD student seemed like a great way to broaden my understanding of human behavior and, hopefully, help extend the existing body of scientific knowledge”
Reinholtz says he chose Columbia because of the people. “The research community here is outstanding. As a doctoral student, you are surrounded by brilliant minds from whom you are able to learn every day.” “The coursework in Columbia's marketing department,” Nicholas also notes, “involves a focus on integrating quantitative and behavioral research. I feel like this provides students with a broad base of knowledge and opens doors to interesting collaborations.”
Jun Kyung AuhPhD student, Finance
Jun Kyung Auh's interest in finance started when he was an options trader. "That experience made me understand how the financial world operates and raised questions for me, as well," he says. "I thought a PhD program would help me find answers."
The faculty members, in particular, are what attracted Auh to Columbia's program. "Columbia has a very well balanced faculty base that provides a good coverage on areas in financial economics. Also, coming from a practical background, I wanted to be close to where the action is: New York City, the center of the financial industry."
Like many, Auh found the process of pursuing a PhD challenging, in particular when he hit speed bumps in the research process. And when he did, the Columbia community was there to help. "Whenever I had a hard time, I was always able to find a faculty member or a classmate who was willing to discuss the problem. The experience at Columbia taught me how much synergy we can make when we put our heads together."
"My future plan is to have an academic position. I am sure that what I learned at Columbia will serve as a foundation for my academic career. I have seen teaching and research at the highest level at the School and it certainly sets a high bar for me going forward."
Matt Stephenson“I’m interested in social norms, trust, and deception—aspects of human behavior."
Nea Gnepa"I chose Columbia because I wanted to receive a state-of-the-art education from a renowned university."
“I wanted the best training as a Doctoral Student. Columbia had amazing professors and colleagues.
Pablo Slutzky“I love to work in an environment that is constantly challenging ideas and looking to expand frontiers.”
Colleen Honisberg“I was thrilled when I was admitted to Columbia Business School, the of excitement still greets me every day."
“Life in Columbia is rewarding. Professors, staff and students are always willing to help you with what you need."
“I worked in the finance industry and knew I needed a challenge and intellectual stimulation."
Daniel He“One thing I really like about the program is the emphasis on bridging behavioral and quantitative marketing."
Ivana Katic“My plans for the future will ideally involve an academic job at a research-focused university.”
Hyung Il Oh"It is very easy to reach these world-famous professors for any kind of help. Most of them have an open door policy."
"The department fosters a very open and collaborative environment in which to exchange and develop ideas.”
"The Management Division is comprised of faculty members doing some of the most exciting work in the field. "
"I have wonderful mentors that are highly involved and dedicated to the projects that we are working on together."
“It is a privilege to have access to incredibly smart people; being able to sound off your ideas with them."
Nicholas Reinholtz“Studying judgment and decision making is a great way to broaden my understanding of human behavior.”
Jun Kyung Auh"Columbia has a very well balanced faculty base that provides a good coverage on areas in financial economics."