Breaking the norm

Q&A with Ravi Srinivasan, Ph.D, assistant professor of operations management

By Jazmin Guzman, '16  |  Photos by Brigid Hamilton

Ravi Srinivasan, Ph.D, assistant professor of operations management, began teaching at Loyola in 2012. Prior to earning his Ph.D. from the Michigan State University, where he went on to teach for several years, Srinivasan worked for nearly a decade implementing supply chain-related IT and business processes for firms in the automobile, industrial, appliance, and high-tech sectors. He has additionally managed global teams in the United States and in India.

Today Srinivasan teaches operations management in Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Jazmin Guzman, ’16, a marketing major and one of his undergraduate students, shares a recent interview with her professor.

What do you like about teaching at Loyola?

What I like about teaching at Loyola are the students. I don’t typically take attendance in my classes. But even then, about 90 percent of the students come to class ready to learn. Students at other universities do not exhibit the same work ethic. I push my students hard and am always amazed at the results. Even if they do not like the material or struggle with the class, they step up to the plate and get the work done.

Students at Loyola know the value of education and, therefore, are ready to work hard.

Can you talk a little about your research?

There are three main areas of research. The first is focused on managing outsourcing projects. Second, I examine how firms invest in research and development. Firms can either invest in R&D in-house or buy from external suppliers. Third, I am researching on how technology helps in a firm’s operations. For example, I am currently examining why firms invest in data analytics.

Why is your research and scholarship important to you?

Research allows us to take a step back and examine if what we are doing is still beneficial. It also allows us to stay abreast of the latest developments and bring it into the classroom.

Personally, I love to research topics that interest the business community. No one mandates me to research a specific topic; rather, I choose areas that I am passionate about.

Can you describe an “aha!” moment in your research?

Connecting the dots has been the biggest “aha” moment in my research. Basically, I am able to look at what people have done in the past and connect it to what is currently happening in the world.

An example of this is with data analytics. The focus is on analyzing large volumes, high variety of data at high speeds. After conducting research on this topic, I am finding that having prior experience with technology is an important factor.

How are Loyola’s Jesuit values reflected in your teaching?

A couple of things come to mind. First, we consistently hear the idea of cura personalis and respect for all. This idea is seen throughout the community at Loyola, and it resonates with me. Coming from an engineering background, my strengths are more in line with quantitative components. Being at Loyola, I am appreciating the qualitative side of things. I am trying to use a holistic approach when teaching our students.

Second, to be a good teacher, you need to be available for your students. Students work hard—but the other half of success is for teachers to guide students. I tailor all of my conversations for each student. Each student has a different learning pace, and therefore requires alternative conversations, which I am always glad to have.

What is something your students don’t know about you?

Something that my students do not know is that I can speak four languages. I grew up in India, where English was the language taught in schools. Hindi was the national language. At home, my family spoke another language, Tamil. Lastly there is Telugu, a language spoken in one of the Indian states that I grew up.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of teaching?

I spend time outdoors hiking and biking with my wife. We enjoy all sorts of outdoor adventures.

Can you share a favorite book, movie, or quote?

One of my favorite books is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I read this book during my childhood. Seagulls are not considered the best at flying. This book focuses on a seagull that surpasses this issue by working hard and beating the odds. Just because you grew up in a family that has traditionally not pursued certain careers does not mean that you should not break that norm. We should strive to be better than what we grew up with and not let our environment dictate our future.

In addition, there are two poems that I really enjoy: “If” and “The Road Not Taken.” Both have helped me reflect on and rethink my life.

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