|Grenoble Ecole de Management
|DBA France (Grenoble / Paris)
What did you do before the Doctor of Business Administration?
I started my career in 1995 as a financial analyst in the hi-tech industry after getting a master’s degree in engineering from Purdue University. With an angel investment from Google’s initial investor in 2007, I helped cofound AltoBeam, a digital integrated circuit (IC) startup, which by 2016 had the No. 1 market share in China’s TV receiver market. I was also instrumental in securing funding from tier one Silicon Valley venture capital firms and participated in asset valuation, term sheet negotiation, and exit strategy development. Over the course of fund raising, I became interested in learning more about how institutional investors evaluate start-ups and make investment decisions based on firm-level information and their overall market and sector-specific knowledge.
Why the DBA?
With that motivation, I started studying the venture capital and private equity academic literature. The more I read, the more I realized that the academic circle is far more fascinating than what I had known for a couple of reasons. First, almost all non-academic practitioners apply methodologies derived from academic theories, especially in areas that use quantitative tools, such as asset pricing and risk management. Second, what really impressed me is the literature-driven and peer-review process that all researchers go through to develop new theories and methodologies or to revise and sometimes even to contest the existing ones with fresh perspectives and updated data. While academic research is thorough, rigorous, and process-oriented, it is surprisingly democratic and thus intellectually stimulating. Although researchers are considered to be authorities in their respective areas, their researches are still viewed as benchmarks to be improved upon. As a matter of fact, the whole thesis of academic research is built on the idea of filling the gaps in the literature, which promotes nonstop production of fresh theories and novel methodologies.
Why the Grenoble DBA program?
This, combined with the intellectual curiosity that has always been with me, motivated me to investigate the whys and hows of finance with a systematic approach and in a scholarly setting. As a result, I applied for the Grenoble DBA program and was accepted into its 2010 Tsinghua University cohort. Based on the outcome of my doctoral research, I have co-authored five papers with my supervisor, out of which, four have been published by reputable academic journals, and one has already been accepted.
What did you learn during the program?
Doing dissertation research greatly strengthened my academic background in domain knowledge through doctoral-level coursework, such as quantitative finance, financial econometrics and asset pricing, and methodologies and tools, including empirical research design, data collection, variable derivation, result analysis, and statistical software packages. The more important thing though is that I realized I was attracted to the meticulous yet stimulating research process itself, out of which much new knowledge is constantly generated. Furthermore, I was eager to share what I have learned through practice and research with young researchers and practitioners through teaching. This prompted me to make a critical decision at that juncture of my life: to make a career change from a professional practitioner to an academic researcher in an institution of higher education.
How did you profit from the DBA at the Grenoble Ecole de Management?
With that, I applied for the International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) with Xi’an Jiaotong–Liverpool University (XJTLU) in late 2013, and I was offered the position of associate professor in finance in February 2014. This was right before I successfully defended my dissertation in March 2014. This, of course, would not have happened had I not had a doctoral degree.
Now that I look back, I am extremely happy that I made the right decision to pursue my DBA study with Grenoble because it helped me change from a practitioner to an academic, a rather challenging yet rewarding career. I want to thank everyone who helped me through my DBA endeavor, especially Professor Zhong-guo Zhou, my dissertation supervisor, and Professor Jie Yan, the director of the China DBA programs.