2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Terence Thong-Hwee Ow, Marquette University College of Business Administration

Terence Thong-Hwee Ow
Marquette University
College of Business Administration


“The impact that Professor Ow has on not just the classes he teaches, but the entire business school as a whole is what truly sets him apart from every other professor that I have. Every year for the last 19 years he has set up a networking event known as Biznet which allows students such as me to interact with our future employers in a setting that is not as strenuous as a career fair. This event was a major reason as to why I was able to land my internship last year.” – Andrew Khoury

Terence Thong-Hwee Ow, 58, is Professor of Information Systems and Analytics at Marquette University College of Business Administration. 

His research focuses on the effects of information technology, especially emerging areas, on individual or organization performance, online community participation and knowledge creation. His research has been published in information systems and management science journals including MIS Quarterly, Journal of Operations Management, Communications of the ACM, Decision Sciences, European Journal of Information Systems, Information & Management and European Journal of Operational Research

Ow won best paper in the 2019 Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. He currently serves as Associate Editor for Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce, and Distributed Ledger Technologies: Research and Practice, an ACM journal. He is also a founding member of the Technical Committee on Blockchain and Distributive Ledgers Technologies at IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society.

Students from his information systems courses are engaged in a semester-long rigorous service-learning project to design and create prototype database systems to benefit local service organizations. 

He is a recipient of the John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award, Marquette University’s highest honor for Teaching Excellence. He was inducted as an honorary faculty member of Alpha Sigma Nu, Jesuit Honor Society for his dedication to the Jesuit ideals of scholarship, loyalty, and service. He was honored as a Faculty All-star in 2019.


At current institution since what year? 2004

Education: PhD in Business, MS Industrial Engineering, MBA, MS in Computer Science, BS in Mathematics and Computer Science – all from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Systems Analysis and Design, Database Management Systems, Web Applications Development, Introduction to Information Systems


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … I was an undergraduate volunteer student tutor for GUTS/HASH, Greater University Tutorial Service assisting students in Linear Programming Applications using LINDO. The effort and patience needed to help fellow students understand and perform better in a challenging class was a proud moment to remember because I felt like I helped them succeed.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Part of my research is to study how individuals contribute to product knowledge in online communities hosted by software platforms. Factors such as group composition and diversity within the community, peer influence, network effects and group affiliation have significant effects on individual participation. 

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … A designer of some sort (architect, industrial design, business process design etc.) I would like to work with customers to come up with innovative designs and solutions.  

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My ability to motivate students to produce their best work on their projects/assignment even under a deadline. I meet with students and steer them in the right direction, and I encourage them to push themselves to do their best because I know they will need to do this once they are in the workplace.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Invigorating

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I wish someone would have told me that teaching a business class is like flying a kite. You cannot force a kite to fly just like you cannot force a person to learn. The kite does not launch itself. Through a series of trial and error by pulling and releasing, the kite soars. When you expect more from a student, you pull on the strings. Then the kite soars higher. But you cannot pull too much, the string may break. There are times when you release and let go to let the kite fly and wonder just like my students exploring new ideas to solve a problem. In other words, you challenge the students to think farther and harder. And there are times when you just have to relax and enjoy what you have done. 

Professor I most admire and why: I most admire my mentor and graduate school advisor, Prof. Jim Morris. He said to teach the students as if you are teaching kids to play a game. Learn the basics of the game; enjoy playing the game; then refine the details of playing the game better through skills gradually. He advised me to focus on the journey and the learning process regardless of how difficult the subject is. I have adopted many of his philosophies in my teaching. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Business students tend to be extroverted and confident in their ideas. My role as a professor in the classroom is to help them refine and articulate their ideas into feasible designs and solutions. I enjoy encouraging class discussions where ideas and comments are challenged and critiqued. This Socratic form of learning allows students to be highly engaged and to learn from each other.

What is most challenging? The most challenging part of teaching my students is to encourage them to trust their knowledge, stay focused and help them persevere through the most difficult part of the project assigned. 

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Ambitious. A student that knows no limit and wants to be challenged and is motivated to learn to do beyond the given class requirement.

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Unmotivated. An unmotivated student that could do more but decides instead to do the bare minimum to pass the class and thereby not stretch their abilities to grow more knowledgeable in their skills.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … High risk, high reward. I will reward students if they try something new or innovative, and not afraid to challenge themselves. It is like scoring in gymnastics – difficulty vs execution. 


What are your hobbies? I enjoy watching all sports. Go Packers, Badgers, Bucks and Brewers! I like to play badminton and table tennis. I am also an avid goldfish enthusiast. I am fascinated by the many varieties and have raised them from newly born baby fish.

How will you spend your summer? I enjoy gardening and preparing my outdoor goldfish pond in summer. It takes my mind off work. I help plant new flowers, so we have continuous blooms throughout the summer. I like the various wildlife by my ponds like frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, and birds. It is very tranquil in my backyard.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: My home in Singapore will always be the place I go for my vacation. The country continuously changes so I always have something new to explore. My friends and very large extended family live there also. There is no place like home.

Favorite book(s): I have not particularly read any novels or classics recently. Most of the books I read are hobby related books that I enjoy during my spare time such as fish keeping, and landscape design. 

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I enjoy watching Korean dramas, especially the award-winning series “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” which tells a story of an autistic lawyer that no firms wanted to hire despite her excellent academic record. Because of her savant knowledge of law, she helps settle or solve cases, or lawsuits in many instances by completely thinking outside the box in her approach to law. Many times, she takes a holistic view addressing the case. I enjoy how she looks at problems from different angles and her ingenuity in finding breakthroughs and solutions for each case.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I still enjoy listening to music from the 80’s. The tunes are catchy and continue to be used and sampled in today’s pop music. There are many cover versions of the original 80’s music.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … The business school would require every student to complete at least one service project that would benefit a not-for-profit organization. It will bring a transformative experience for the students to be able to apply their newfound knowledge and apply it in the organization. This experience will reinforce learning with real-world experience.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Organizations should learn to prepare their workforce for their changing work environment. The common theme seems to be that organizations lay off workers due to change of strategies or companies not meeting their financial goals. Organizations should treat their employees as assets. Retrain and retool the employees with the right skill sets when the organization is going through transformational changes. The employees are there to help you achieve your goals. They should not be disposable when your strategic priorities change. The organization benefits when employees are encouraged to gain new skills.

I’m grateful for …  My family supports my pursuit of being a professor with its high academic expectations. They understand that my days are not all the same and that I wear many hats as teacher, mentor, and career advisor to students. I am also a researcher conducting data analysis that sometimes does not go right or revising a manuscript under a tight deadline. My family sees me under stress and yet happy and content as a teacher. I am forever grateful they understand me.


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