Professor Profiles: USC Marshall’s Pai-Ling Yin
Having the opportunity to learn from the best and brightest minds in business is one of the top motivators for many applicants considering an MBA degree at an elite business school. The professors and lecturers you’ll encounter have worked in the trenches, and bring an incredible wealth of real-world experiences into the classroom setting.
In our new limited series of professor interviews on the SBC blog, readers will get to know a bit more about these brilliant academics, what fields most excite them, the trends they foresee, what they enjoy most about teaching at their respective universities, and how it all comes together with their students.
Education: PhD, Stanford University; MSc, London School of Economics; BA, BS, Indiana University
Courses Taught: Tech Commercialization, Tech Entrepreneurship, Structured Analysis for Unstructured Problems, Problem Solving & Decision Making: An Integrative Approach, The Global Context of Business, Capstone Course
What triggered your interest in your subject matter?
I started studying mobile apps because they represented the power of technology and platforms to lower costs and accessibility and permit widespread engagement in entrepreneurship and innovation.
What do you like about the school you are teaching at?
The supportive culture of the Trojan Family is the type of organizational asset that firms struggle to achieve. Faculty and students call on alumni, who always pick up the phone and help when they can. The alums often say, “I remember that someone in the Trojan Network took time out of their busy lives to talk to me, so I pay it forward.”
How do you leverage technology in your classroom?
For the past two years, I have coordinated with NASA, US Navy, and US Stevens Center for Innovation to have students come up with commercialization plans for patented technologies. We are literally trying to use the classroom to bring technology from the lab to the market.
What can you do in the classroom to best prepare students for the real world?
My classroom is a safe space where students can practice analytical and persuasive communication. Discussion is how we practice giving and synthesizing feedback to move others towards our goal. Each moment spent in class is an opportunity to practice this vital skill in the rare and precious context of motivated peers.
Can you speak to interesting trends in your field?
The way humans interact with computing will change dramatically in the next few years with augmented and virtual reality. Los Angeles will be a locus of the new applications arising to take advantage of these technologies, since the talent for creating immersive storytelling experiences is right here in the movie-making industry.
How can business leaders make better decisions?
Practice the Principle of Charity from philosophy: put yourself in the shoes of someone opposed to their decision. What is the best argument you can make for their side? If you can defend against that argument, you’ve probably got a strong case.
Best advice for an aspiring business mogul?
Strategy is about knowing what you DON’T do: To which customers, investors, advisors, partners and potential employees do you say no?
What’s the impact you want to leave on your students? … On the world?
I hope that my students all pause before making any decision. I want them to make decisions more slowly, because they take the time to consider the impact on the welfare of all stakeholders: themselves, employees, investors, customers, partners, and the global community.
Thank you so much Professor Yin for sharing your insights and experiences with our readers!