Mindy Xiaolan Zhang (Ph.D. ’13), assistant professor of finance at University of Texas McCombs School of Business, received several citations, including the USC Marshall School of Business Trefftzs Award for the Best Student Paper entitled, “Who Bears Firm-Level Risk? Implications for Cash Flow Volatility.” The Western Finance Association presented the award at the organization’s annual luncheon in June 2014. She also received a 2014 Cubist Systematic Strategies Ph.D. Candidate Award for Outstanding Research, which provides financial support to attend and present the awarded research at the 2014 Western Finance Association meetings.
Her paper explores the relationship between labor and finance, most specifically the role human capital plays in contributing to the value of a firm, as well as the risk.
“In class we learn about financing tangible capital or investments, such as technology and operational plants,” Zhang says. “Today, firms such as Google and Facebook are committing less to tangible investments and instead investing more heavily in their work force, which becomes the main asset. There was a time when we thought that labor was ‘costless’ in a job, but that’s no longer the case. The worker is the asset and, in general, owns the capital of the firm.”
This paper has become the starting point of Zhang’s research pipeline. She admits that she is focusing her efforts on an understudied field that has not had much literature on which to build, but has great potential.
Zhang credits her paper’s success to her Ph.D. committee, who included UCLA Anderson Professors Hanno Lustig, Andrea Eisfeldt, Antonio Bernardo and Mark Garmaise.
“What made me happiest was when my professors told me that they were proud of me,” Zhang says. “I am happy that I make them proud. It’s for them as well, not just for me.”
Dimitris Andritsos (Ph.D. ’11), assistant professor of operations management at HEC Paris, and UCLA Anderson Prof. Chris Tang received the Best Paper Award at the 2nd International Conference on Big Data and Analytics in Healthcare, organized by the National University of Singapore (Centre for Health Informatics.) Their paper, “Linking Process Quality and Resource Usage: An Empirical Analysis,” is expected to be published in the Production and Operations Management Journal (POM) in the near future.
“We started this paper as an opportunity to explore and learn more about the wide array of different health care databases that were routinely used in the medical literature, but less so in the operations management literature,” says Andritsos. “Our topic emerged as a natural link between the two.
“We examined the effect of stricter adherence to medical guidelines on the level of resources that a patient uses during hospitalization. The Affordable Care Act has made hospitals accountable for the quality of care they provide and therefore this question is interesting both from a policy maker’s and a hospital manager’s point of view. The broader area of health care operations management has been my personal research area of focus during my doctoral studies and my current occupation at HEC Paris.”
Andritsos admits that the biggest difficulty with the paper was “familiarizing ourselves with medical terminology, the medical literature and understanding the different nuances that medical researchers may give to terms that also have wide usage in operations management. Nevertheless, this is also what made this work exciting and interesting.”
“I think of this award as good motivation to continue working hard,” he adds.