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Bringing an international perspective to UofGH Business students

Dr. Christian Ploder

Dr. Christian Ploder, a professor at Management Center Innsbruck (MCI) in Innsbruck, Austria, recently visited the University of Guelph-Humber campus to deliver a lecture to a fourth-year Business Analytics class.

Held on January 22, 2019, the lecture was part of UofGH’s Visiting Professors program. UofGH’s long-standing relationship with MCI also includes an active student exchange agreement.

A new perspective on analytics

During his visit to MCI last summer, UofGH Vice-Provost Dr. John Walsh recognized there was a demand for more big-data analytics learning, says Assistant Vice-Provost and Business Program Head Dr. George Bragues.

“In addition to our long-standing relationship with MCI, we thought the potential of Dr. Ploder coming to our campus to lecture about big-data analytics—and what it means to further explore it—would be extremely valuable for our students.”

Dr. Ploder’s teaching and research focuses on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, process management, and management information systems. “My research is about business processes, and how we can most efficiently support those business processes with larger data and information,” he explains.

The hour-long lecture focused on process mining—which, as Dr. Ploder explains, “closes the loop of the idea of data analytics, business analytics, and using technologies to get a better picture about business processes. It’s a really important topic for students, because they have to have the ability to go into companies, look around and obtain process information.”

The lecture included a discussion of a research paper about how process mining was used to improve the layout of an emergency department in a hospital. “This is what we use in companies, hospitals, and schools. We look at the processes, and we rearrange the facility so that we have better, continuous, highly efficient process flow throughout that facility,” Dr. Ploder explains.

UofGH business analytics instructor Maria Amuchastegui says Dr. Ploder’s lecture gave her students the opportunity to go beyond textbook learning and experience the latest research in the field.

“Big-data analytics is really a brand new field, and I think it’s important for students, especially students who are in their fourth year and who might be thinking about graduate school, to hear from people like Dr. Ploder and to learn that the subjects they’re studying about are evolving and that research is still being done in this area,” she says.

Dr. Ploder laughs

Fourth-year UofGH Business student Matthew Medeiros says he appreciated how Dr. Ploder made this complex topic understandable and relatable for the students.

"Dr. Ploder spoke about the topic from a very macro perspective, using very understandable and simple models to get the points across,” he says. “I will take forward with me a greater appreciation for the incredible technology that allows us future accountants and marketing managers to make quick yet informed business decisions. I’ll also be much less intimidated by the thought of data analytics, and be confident that I can incorporate data analysis in my own career.”

Dr. Ploder says he enjoyed the opportunity to visit UofGH and Humber College, and appreciated how engaged the students were. “It was really nice to be there with the students,” he says. “During the lecture, we had a good discussion about several topics. I felt that I was not just in front of the class, but that I was part of the class.”

Part of a global network

UofGH’s Visiting Professors program has many benefits for UofGH students, says Dr. Bragues.

“Visiting professors always bring a different perspective. It expands our students’ perspective and exposes them to a different cultural context,” he says. “I think it also shows students that the University of Guelph-Humber is part of a global network of schools, that we not only present our own intellectual talent, but we can also bring people from other parts of the world to our campus, which makes it an exciting place to study at.”

Medeiros agrees, stating “I can be confident that all attendees left the lecture with a greater appreciation for not only modern data analytics technology, but also for international perspectives.”