Junmin (Jim) Shi
New Jersey Institute of Technology
“Dr. Jim Shi is my most favorite professor at NJIT who taught me a lot of concrete business analytics and data science. One project I garnered much knowledge in the Peer to Peer lending club. It is a real data driven FinTech project. Importantly, I found my first job relevant to this project. Currently, my job needs me to explore the new technology of Blockchain and AI, for which I learned from Dr. Shi in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.” – William Penn, student
Junmin (Jim) Shi, 43, is the Hurlburt Chair of Management Information Systems and Associate Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he’s been since 2014. He currently teaches Blockchain Technology for Business, Data-Driven Financial Modeling, Business Data Analytics, and Business Research Methods.
He has a PhD in Supply Chain Management from Rutgers Business School at Rutgers University.
Dr. Shi’s research has appeared in numerous scholarly top-tier journals such as Operations Research, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, Naval Research Logistics, Annals of Operations Research, European Journal of Operations Research, and Omega (the International Journal of Management Science). He currently serves as Associate Editor for Decision Sciences Journal, Omega, and Data Science and Management. He also serves as a member of the Editorial Board for Production and Operations Management, and the International Journal of Business Analytics.
He is the winner of the Robert W. Van Houten Award for Teaching Excellence among other teaching and research awards.
“Dr. Shi is an outstanding colleague at NJIT who excels at research and teaching. He has published a number of top journal papers in the field of supply chain and FinTech, including a handful of Financial Times Listed journals and UT Dallas listed journals,” writes colleague Steve Gomaz in his nomination. “He carries a great reputation worldwide in the field and has been serving several critical associated editors. His teaching has won shouts from his students. He definitely deserves such recognization from P&Q.”
LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I first published my research paper as a PhD student at Rutgers Business School in 2008. The cheering momentum you feel when your research effort and talent is approved by peers is a big load of fuel to propel the pursuit. To this end, I started teaching at Rutgers Business School during the summer of 2008. I taught the fundamental business school course, Business Research Methods, to undergraduate students. Gratefully, I received a very favorable teaching evaluation from my students. This unforgettable experience was a booster shot for me to become a business school professor.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My current research focuses on financial technology (FinTech), blockchain technology for supply chain management, plastic recycling management and circular economics, agribusiness and health care operations. Some of my current research is on the interface among finance, supply chain management and marketing. I’m working on multiple supply chain projects. The first one is “Coffee Bean Supply Chain,” through which we will help small-scale coffee farmers in Kenya survive and thrive. Another project is on how to leverage the disruptive blockchain technology to enhance plastic recycling. I also work on the food supply among people with low incomes and low access (in the so-called “food desert”). This project is supported by a USDA grant.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… most likely, a financial quantitative analyst.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Throughout my college time in China, I needed to work as a private math tutor. It was the only way to make money to support college living. Gratefully, I acknowledge the tutoring experience, not for making money, but for forming my mind to be a professor and teach others.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Patience. The first time I taught at Rutgers Business School 14 years ago, the class was a big audience of undergraduates. The feature of the course was pretty quantitative. However, the business school students literally lack math experience. A simple computation question might be a big obstacle to most of them. You might imagine how crowded it was in my cubicle during my office hours. I needed to answer the same calculation question to each of them repeatedly. From this, I learned to be patient. A professor needs to be patient enough to do repeated work with students.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: What the future of business education will be after five or 10 years. Generation by generation, higher education has changed all the time. Throughout the journey, we need to keep ourselves up to date so that we can be nimble enough to convey the dynamic knowledge needed to the next generation, especially for Gen Z. To be sustainable and resilient is also a challenge for professors.
Professor I most admire and why: There are many names in my mind. One is Professor Walter Wallace, a colleague at Robinson College of Business, during my time at Georgia State University from 2010 to 2014. He’s a very experienced business professor with a humble and elegant personality. He teaches not for a paycheck, but for his goal of helping students become more successful. He exemplifies a great professor who is always giving.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? At a polytechnic university, our business is STEM-oriented. Hence, technology is core to our lectures. I am happy to see my students learn the current technology from the lectures, such as Excel spreadsheet, R programming, blockchain technology, AI and big data. In addition, I enjoy interacting with students, which makes my course efficient. Most of my courses at NJIT are given at computer workstations or labs, which requires tremendous interaction with students. For undergraduate students, I enjoy teaching the business principles and concepts with nitty-gritty, real-world business and management matters, such as actual business projects. For example, in my current blockchain class, I have brought the Metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFT) into the classroom.
What is most challenging? The disruption of the course and the new normalcy of course delivery amid the pandemic. For example, all instructors and students needing to wear masks in classrooms. Unfortunately, some students could not follow the protocol strictly.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged. I like the most to see my students engaged and dedicated to the lectures, whereby they can learn more effectively.
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Unrespectful. Being respectful to each peer and instructor is essential.
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…fair and reasonable.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Chess, hiking, bicycling, fishing, basketball
How will you spend your summer? Doing research and spending time with my family
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Taiwan, Hawaii, Cancun
Favorite book(s): “Applied Probability Models with Optimization Applications,” by Sheldon M. Ross. It is a very thin book but contains pretty rich wisdom on probability and optimization.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Forrest Gump
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Relaxing light music to help me focus on research
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Components and emphasis on climate change and social sustainability. It is critical to teach our business school students to leverage business approaches addressing climate-change threats.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…collaborating closely with educational institutes in a good way to support education. Education is the cornerstone of our society’s progress. As such, the sustainability of our society is driven by continuingly supported education.
I’m grateful for… my peer colleagues and our hardworking students, who are able to manage and overcome the disruption and many inconveniences caused by the brutal pandemic.