Faculty Spotlight - Ravi Patnayakuni

Ravi Patnayakuni

Name: Ravi Patnayakuni
Number of years teaching: Over 20, but who’s counting?
Number of years teaching at UAH: Joined in Summer 2004, so 13 years
Classes taught/teaching:

  • Enterprise Systems (UG)
  • Computer Applications in Business (UG)
  • Database Analysis and Design (UG, G)
  • Information Architecture and Networking (G)
  • Telecommunications and Networking (UG, G)
  • Knowledge Management Systems (G)
  • Information Systems in Organizations (UG)
  • Systems Analysis and Design (UG, G)
  • Themes in IS Research (G)
  • Contemporary Topics in IS Research (G)
  • Research Methods (G)
  • User Interface Design (UG)
  • Information System Design and Implementation (UG, G)
  • Management of Information Technology (G)
  • Advanced Computer Programming in Business (UG)
  • Supply Chain Management Systems (UG, G)

1. How did you become interested in your field? Was there a specific moment when you knew it was the right field for you?

I arrived at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with the intention of obtaining a doctoral degree in Strategic Management. After attending my first seminar in Information Systems, it became very apparent that Information Technology was going to fundamentally change how organizations function – from operational to strategic. Not only that, it was going to change how people live. The first internet browser was not even in existence then! And look at where we are today, and we ain’t seen nothing yet!

2. Why did you go into teaching and what do you hope students take away from your class?

One of my former colleagues would often remark with this sense of wonder that we are so lucky to be in this profession, “Isn’t this the best job in the world?” I haven’t yet found a reason to disagree; it is the best job in the world! One gets to be in school forever, learn all the time, pursue intellectual challenges, have a vantage point to observe changes in education and society, and interact with curious learning minds.

I started teaching right after my master’s as an adjunct; I actually used to teach Marketing and Marketing Research at that time. After, my doctoral work, it has been a fascinating journey to constantly learn new technologies, how they are changing entire markets and economies, and how they are impacting organizations and people. To be able to bring that fascination to the classroom semester after semester has been gratifying.

The profession is also very global in nature with tremendous opportunities to collaborate, teach and visit in other countries. I have taught at The University of Melbourne in Australia on my first job as a Research Fellow after completing doctoral work. I have presented at conferences held across the globe from San Diego to Shanghai. I am a Senior Editor on a journal published in the United Kingdom whose Editor-in-chief works in Hong Kong. This summer I will be giving some talks to MBA students in India. All of which provides a global perspective to both my teaching and research.

My courses tend to be rigorous and challenging. In addition to learning the content, what I would like student to take away is a change in perspective. A different way of looking at things, having insight and finding not one but many Aha! moments about things they did not see before. I also hope they develop a love for learning, for in today’s world, the only constant is change.

3. What do you enjoy most about your students?

Our students are always looking for practical, applicable knowledge. They like hands-on and collaborative work. As faculty in Information Systems, we have lots of opportunity to provide these learning opportunities. From hands-on exercises in using Enterprise Systems to simulations that allow teams to run companies and compete with each other in a simulated market using Enterprise Systems.

It is most gratifying when students take away something from the class that stays with them. While they find getting through the semester may appear challenging enough, every now and then I will receive a note appreciating the rigor of the class. Or I will meet a former student at a restaurant or at a store who will walk up and say, “I learned something from your class.” or ”it has been a big help at work!” Even better, there are times when a former student comes back to the class to recruit students for our college. What better vote-of-confidence in the education we provide to our students at this college!

4. What research are you working on?

I am working on projects that are at various stages. Most of my research focuses on the impact of technology on organizations and a lot of my research has been in the context of supply chains. I am working on a project that looks at differences in information sharing in supply chain across buyers and suppliers. My collaborators are Dr. Arun RaiI from Georgia State University and Dr. Xinlin Tang at Florida State University. I am also currently working with Bracken Sallin, an undergraduate student in Information Systems at our college, as part of the RCEU program that studies how people process cyber security information received from different sources and their reaction to the information in terms of assessing the threat and change in their computer usage. Working with Dr. Ivey MacKenzie, I recently embarked on a project that would look at how HR Managers adopt and use Human Resources Information Systems, in particular the HR modules in their organization’s enterprise systems. The research is supported by an internal SAP Innovation grant available to faculty in the college.

5. What would you like your research to achieve?

Word Peace! Like most researchers, I would like to contribute further knowledge with new insights and perspectives and would like my research to be of relevance to both the academic community and to the business world. I have been fortunate to participate in research that has been very well cited by other researchers. One of my papers has over a 1000 citations. A recent study about the domain of information systems development knowledge identified two of my papers as ‘citation classics’ i.e. work that has been consistently referenced to over an extended period of time.

6. What do you like to do aside from teaching and research?

I like to cook. My recent experiments were a Mexican lasagna with zucchini and Lychee Coconut Ice cream with cardamom. Whenever I come across a recipe that I find interesting, I try to give my own twist to it. Its hit and miss, which sometimes my family appreciates and at other times head for the trash bin via the refrigerator.

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

Everything above? I used to sell motorcycles in rural North India!