Foster Information Systems Faculty Spotlight – Elina Hwang

Get to know Foster’s Associate Professor of Information Systems and Evert McCabe Endowed Fellow in Private Enterprise Hyeunjung (Elina) Hwang, who teaches the core MBA course Data Management for Analytics, with a focus on Structured Query Language (SQL).

Please tell us a bit about your background.

I am originally from South Korea. Before joining the Foster School as a faculty member, I earned a Ph.D. in the Business Technologies area from the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, and an M.B.A. from the Anderson School of Management, UCLA. Before pursuing an academic career, I worked in the consulting and banking industry for several years. I enjoy spending time with my family (husband, two daughters, and our dog Bori) in my free time. We love hiking, camping, and skiing. I also enjoy running and working out. Wait! I am a big fan of BTS & Black Pink!

What excites you about your subject area and what are some of your research interests?

I am fascinated by how technologies can change our daily life and interactions. My research focuses on examining the economic and social impacts of information technologies. I am particularly interested in how online platforms connect and facilitate interactions among people, especially those disconnected offline. A common approach of my research is to analyze large-scale field data obtained from industry collaboration and to discover hidden patterns using econometrics, network analysis, and machine learning techniques. I take an interdisciplinary research approach, building on the diverse literature on information systems, economics, sociology, organizations, and operations management. My research has been recognized with several awards. Notable examples are the Gordon David Young Scholar Award from INFORMS Information Systems Society (2021), the Best Conference Paper Award from International Conference on Information Systems (2018), the Runner-up for the Best Conference Paper from Conference on Health IT and Analytics (2017), and the Herbert A. Simon Doctoral Dissertation Award from Carnegie Mellon University (2015).


Which factors influenced your decision to join UW Foster? 

I chose to join UW Foster for multiple reasons. First, UW Foster faculty engage in intellectually challenging but practically relevant research. I wanted to join the team to do impactful research. Secondly, the UW Foster program is very strong and a rising star, as evidenced by various rankings. Thirdly, I love Seattle. The city is so young, vibrant, and perfect for people like us who love outdoor activities. One more plus, there are many direct flights to South Korea!

Please tell us briefly about the structure of your course – what can students expect to master by the end of it?

I will introduce new syntaxes one by one, with lots of opportunities to practice them in class. If you come to class and engage actively, you will master SQL up to the intermediate level. Through a group project, you will have a chance to work with real-world data, which requires lots of cleaning, sense-making, and critical thinking to generate valuable insights.


How have you worked to make your classroom/course curriculum inclusive? 

I always try to include diverse students in class discussions. Here, the diversity can be along the dimension of demographic attributes such as ethnicity, gender, or nationality, but I also try to include students with diverse skill sets. Some students may have difficulty following class materials, and including them in class discussion helps everybody’s learning: I get to know what should be covered more, and other students can learn diverse perspectives.


Any favorite memories from your experience with Full-Time MBAs/Evening MBAs?

Group project presentations! It is always a highlight of my course! I love to see how much students have improved their skills in understanding/ manipulating/ analyzing data. Since students use real-world data, the insights they pull are practically very relevant and useful! I learn a lot (as much as students do)!


How is your teaching influenced by instructional best practices?

Since my course involves hands-on technologies, I am always looking out for best practices so that I can deliver up-to-date and practically relevant materials. I regularly attend teaching conferences and audit many online courses. To keep up with industry trends, I have changed teaching software three times so far and frequently update the data we use for class practices.


Are there components of your class that can help students build their resume? 

After successfully completing my course, students can add the following to their resume. My goal is for you to add them to your resume confidently. 

o   Coding skill: SQL

o   Software familiarity: MySQL

o   Experience: Data analytics project experience that involves data cleaning, manipulating, and analyzing real-world data


How will students apply the knowledge and skills they gain in your classroom in their careers?

My course covers essential knowledge and skills in data management, specifically focusing on SQL (Structured Query Language). Even though some students may not directly work with data in their career, the knowledge/skills they learned from this course will be instrumental in working with data analysts and translating analytics work. Understanding data analytics has become a critical capability of any business manager.


What advice do you have for first year students to ace your course?

 Trust me. Come to class. Participate Actively!