2021 Best Undergraduate Professors: Sammi (Yu) Tang, Herbert Business School, University of Miami

Sammi (Yu) Tang

Herbert Business School, University of Miami 

“Her contributions to undergraduate teaching in the area of Operations and Supply Chain Management are truly noteworthy. Even after graduation, students often seek her expertise on topics such as supply chain integration, price negotiation in sourcing, and supply chain logistics design.” – Hari Natarajan, professor and Vice Dean at Miami Herbert

Sammi (Yu) Tang, 42, is Associate Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management at University of Miami’s Herbert Business School where she’s been since 2008. She currently teaches Operations Management, Principles of Supply Chain Management, Sustainable Supply Chains, and Competitive Advantage through Operations.

She has a PhD in Operations and Manufacturing Management and an MS in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis; a BS in Geophysics from Peking University in China, and a BS in Economics, China Center for Economic Research, from Peking University.

Dr. Tang was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award by the graduating cohort of the school’s Global EMBA program, and her teaching evaluations are consistently among the highest at Miami Herbert, Vice Dean of Business Programs Hari Natarajan tells Poets&Quants. She was integral to the creation of the school’s new Supply Chain Analytics major by developing the Supply Chain Strategy class to teach fundamentals such as inventory management, supply chain network design, supply chain coordination, and supply chain sourcing.

“Students note that her classes are rich and engaging; she effectively embeds experiential learning games and case studies to ensure that students develop the ability to think critically in practical contexts. She has also led capstone projects with industry partners, helping students bridge the gap between theory and practice,” Natarajan says. “An expert and award-winning researcher in managing risk in global supply chains, she brings a rigorous depth to the classroom. By combining rigor and relevance, she prepares her students well for the challenges that they may face in industry. And they appreciate it. We are very glad to have her at Miami Herbert.”


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I never knew I would become a business school professor one day. It’s a natural outcome of a collection of decisions. I pursued my graduate study in business because I was always interested in learning about how things work in the business world. I thought I would take some corporate jobs. But during my Ph.D. study at WashU, I realized there were so many challenging problems companies must solve to become more efficient in their operations, and my strong analytical background could help me tackle some of those problems. I was also fascinated by how the research findings and managerial insights from the academic world can be used to explain business phenomena and guide practitioners. After graduation, I started my academic career at Miami Herbert Business School. It was until then I discovered the joy of being a business professor, the joy of explaining interesting concepts behind real-life observations, and the joy of seeing the “aha” moment from students.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My research interests focus on supply chain risk management, outsourcing and procurement strategies, responsible sourcing, global supply chain management, and topics in the interface of Operations Management and Marketing. Recently, I have been working with my co-authors to examine how tariff uncertainty and domestic competition will affect U.S. companies’ reshoring activities. We find that tariffs imposed at different stages of a supply chain can have opposite effects, and that reshoring can provide significant flexibility value to improve a global firm’s competitiveness.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… probably a consultant. I have a genuine interest in helping companies solve challenging business problems. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I constantly look for the best way to explain complex concepts and models in a simple and intuitive way, so students don’t just memorize formulas and definitions, but understand the principles behind them. I also put a lot of focus on real-world applications and connections between academic research and practice.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Nervous

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That you better be good at balancing many competing things, research, teaching, service, and, life.

Professor I most admire and why: I very much admire Professor Panos Kouvelis, my Ph.D. advisor at Washington University in St. Louis. I learned my research philosophy and teaching philosophy from him. He always encouraged his students to spark new research ideas from real-world problems and challenged them to think beyond analytical findings. In terms of teaching, I have benefited so much from him by observing how he taught MBA and Executive MBA classes, how he brought research into classrooms, and how he used experiential learning so effectively in his classes. I am also very indebted to and admire my colleagues at Miami Herbert, who are outstanding scholars and have been very generous in sharing their research and teaching experiences. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Business students have diverse backgrounds. They like to share their professional and personal experiences in class, creating a rich mutual-learning environment in the classroom. 

What is most challenging? Sometimes it can be challenging to adjust course materials on the fly when students get excited about an idea, and the discussion takes longer than expected. 

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Disrespectful

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…Strict but fair


What are your hobbies? Watching movies, reading, doing yoga

How will you spend your summer? Traveling, doing research, spending time with family

Favorite place(s) to vacation: China

Favorite book(s): The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My recent favorite movies are nature documentaries like My Octopus Teacher and Dynasties. I enjoy watching them with my kids together. These documentaries have stunning visual effects and many touching moments when showing how interactions between animals are so much like the human world, yet we don’t know much about them.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Pop music – Adele is one of my favorites.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… more project-based courses and more industry engagement. Students will have more opportunities to work with companies to solve real business problems. This will help students learn how to identify a problem and find the right framework to guide the analysis and decision, which is often more important than solving a well-defined problem. We are doing a great job moving in that direction at Miami Herbert, and we will continue to provide more such opportunities.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…being resilient and adaptable. The world is changing at an incredible pace. Today’s companies and organizations are facing all kinds of disruptions to their businesses: new technologies, changing consumer preferences, political instability, geographic tensions, natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, and so on. Only those companies that are resilient and adaptable can sustain disruptions, embrace opportunities and thrive.

I’m grateful for… my wonderful family, colleagues, students.


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