University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School
“I took my class with Professor Song two years ago; however, to this day I think about how much it has affected the way I think about different processes and operations. She was extremely successful at making such abstract and complex formulas/information into concrete and easy-to-understand material. Additionally, outside the classroom she truly went above and beyond to provide any resources possible to facilitate a successful career. She is so helpful and inspiring, and I am very thankful I got the opportunity to take a class from her.” – Samantha Stein
Hummy Song, 35, is Assistant Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions at University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School. She holds a secondary appointment as Assistant Professor of Health Care Management.
Her research focuses on identifying ways to improve the performance of service systems, with a particular emphasis on the health care sector. She utilizes large datasets derived from electronic health record systems, administrative databases, and surveys of the health care workforce and has worked with hospitals and health care delivery organizations in the U.S. and in developing countries.
She has been published in leading academic journals including Management Science, Operations Research, and Health Services Research. Her work has also appeared in Harvard Business Review and has received media coverage in various outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and CBS News.
She is the winner of the 2022 POMS Early Career Research Accomplishments Award. She has received several recognitions for her research, including the M&SOM Service Management SIG Best Paper Award, and INFORMS Health Applications Society Best Student Paper Award. She was a finalist for the Best OM Paper in Management Science Award. She currently serves as an Associate Editor of Management Science.
At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD from Harvard University
List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Core Operations Management and a global modular course on Healthcare and Business in Ghana
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I learned such a career existed! I’d never heard of business academia until I was well into the PhD application process, when a professor who read my Statement of Purpose pointed me towards the faculty doing research in operations management at the business school (thanks Prof. Tom McGuire!). I was excited to discover there was a whole field of study that was exactly about the topics and questions that interested me most. I reflect on this experience to remind my undergraduate students that it’s okay not to know exactly what your career path will be from day 1, and also that it’s important to keep an open mind. Sometimes, the people around you will see the right fit for you, even when you don’t yet know such a career even exists.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Much of my current research focuses on how health systems can more effectively utilize data and technologies to address operational challenges and, in turn, improve access to care. In this realm, one of my projects uses operational data from a large home health agency to investigate the extent to which unstable schedules increase nurses’ likelihood of quitting their jobs. This is an industry with extremely high rates of turnover and highly volatile schedules. We develop a novel measure of schedule volatility and document a strong empirical relationship where higher levels of schedule volatility substantially increase workers’ likelihood of quitting. In other words, we find that schedule volatility is an important driver of workers’ decisions to quit.
In another project, we examine how technological innovations may help improve access to high-quality care for patients in hard-to-reach areas by leapfrogging expensive and time-consuming infrastructure investments. Specifically, we examine the impact of using drone delivery to solve a last-mile delivery problem when it comes to transporting blood products to hospitals in Rwanda. Using data from the Rwandan Ministry of Health, we find large reductions in on-hand inventory and wastage of blood products after adopting drone delivery, and also large decreases in in-hospital mortality rates for postpartum hemorrhage, which relies heavily on blood transfusions for treatment and is the leading cause of maternal mortality. Comparing these results to the effects of paving roads, we find evidence of a leapfrogging effect when using delivery drones. This work has important implications for furthering our understanding of how last-mile delivery technologies can be leveraged to improve access and outcomes, especially in places with limited infrastructure and resources.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… a cartographer. Love maps and love travel.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My unique and musical name.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilarating.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I wish I’d learned about this career earlier! But at the same time, I’m glad I went through the process of exploration and discovery that eventually led me here, as I learned a lot along the way.
Professor I most admire and why: Assuming historical figures are allowed – Benjamin Franklin. To me, he embodies the qualities of the ultimate business school professor and he engaged in a variety of endeavors that fundamentally shaped our society. His research bridged theory and practice (e.g., his kite experiment to demonstrate lightning was a form of electricity), he was entrepreneurial (e.g., he invented bifocals, the glass armonica, and a new-and-improved urinary catheter), and he was the OG of civic engagement (he founded the first hospital in America, Pennsylvania Hospital; the first volunteer fire department in America; and also the University of Pennsylvania). In terms of more contemporary professors I admire and respect, the list is too long to include here!
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Keeping things practical and relevant. I especially enjoy connecting with students about real-world applications of the principles I teach in class, and I am always blown away by the interesting and creative projects they are working on – both inside and outside the classroom.
What is most challenging? Because I teach a fairly quantitative course in the core curriculum, the biggest challenge is in making the course accessible for students who have less experience with quantitative material while keeping it interesting and challenging for those with much more experience in this domain. For me, I try to accomplish this by highlighting the connection to real-world applications and helping students see the mathematical formulas a useful tool for solving complex problems and making tough decisions.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged.
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Absent.
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Strict but fair. No surprises.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Running and listening to podcasts – often together.
How will you spend your summer? Working on my research projects, traveling for conferences (and for fun), and starting to train for my first full marathon!
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Somewhere I haven’t been before that is either history + culture or sand + sunshine.
Favorite book(s): One of my all-time favorites is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, which tells the story of the (early) life and journey of Dr. Paul Farmer. Also among my favorites are two memoirs written by my friends: Here We Are by Aarti Shahani and Solving For Why by Dr. Mark Shrime.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I discovered Korean shows on Netflix at the beginning of the pandemic and have really enjoyed them since. Some favorites include “Crash Landing On You”, “Mr. Sunshine”, and “Extraordinary Attorney Woo”.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Soul music, especially 1960s’ Motown. I love everything from the sophisticated melodies and the amazing vocals to the way the music reaches across all groups of people.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… international partnerships and opportunities for learning – across regions, countries, cultures, and hemispheres. In particular, there are many vibrant economies in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia, and other parts of the world that we could do more to connect with and learn from – through both research and teaching.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… nurturing talent and supporting further development and growth in house.
I’m grateful for… the privilege of being in this profession where I get to teach and mentor the next generation of business leaders and work on research projects with the business leaders of today, all while having so much fun along the way. I’m also grateful for the incredibly supportive community of family, friends, and colleagues around me!
Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.