DBA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Hui Zhao

Meet Dr. Hui Zhao, Professor of Supply Chain Management and Charles and Lilian Binder Faculty Fellow at Smeal. Discover the Business Analytics course she teaches, focusing on data-driven decision-making, descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. Explore her research expertise in supply chain management, addressing complex problems involving decentralized agents and misaligned incentives. Learn about her work in the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry and its implications for public policy. Visit her Smeal Directory profile for more information.

Dr. Hui Zhao, Professor of Supply Chain Management, and Charles and Lilian Binder Faculty Fellow.



Some of the best and brightest minds in business call Smeal their professional home. Our faculty's contributions to teaching and research are heard around the world. And their commitment to partnering with our students is seen, heard, and experienced in our classrooms and beyond. 

Here, we introduce you to Dr. Hui Zhao, Professor of Supply Chain Management, and Charles and Lilian Binder Faculty Fellow

What DBA course(s) are you teaching?

SCIS 501: Business Analytics

What are you excited to cover/explore and why?

In today's digital world where data is generated daily, how to use data to help make better decisions is important for every industry. Business analytics is the practice of analyzing and interpreting data to gain insights that can be used to help make business decisions, improve performance, and inform strategic planning. In this class, I'm excited to introduce various data-driven techniques and tools that are commonly used in Business Analytics.

We organize our material in terms of descriptive analytics (what happened), predictive analytics (what will happen), prescriptive analytics (what should happen). We will focus on establishing the necessary concepts that help to answer the question of when to use what, while giving plenty of hands-on practices.

What are some of your main goals/expectations as a professor to DBA students?

My goal is to expose the students to a variety of useful tools that will help with what they can do for their research and practice. By definition, data-driven is quantitative. So I hope students will be willing and prepared to try new things. It would also be critical that they brush off their basic quantitative skills (statistics and basic algebra) so they can benefit better from the class.

How would you summarize your research expertise?

My general research area is supply chain management. Many business problems are difficult to solve because they involve multiple agents with misaligned incentives. My research develops analytics models to distill the complex interactions among decentralized agents and proposes mechanisms that align incentives, induce collaboration, and thus, improve supply chain efficiency.

My work focuses on “messy” problems of practical importance, aiming for advances of knowledge and broader impact. Having worked on research in a variety of industry settings, most of my current research focuses on the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry context. I am particularly interested in pharmaceutical/healthcare supply chains and innovations in pharmaceutical/health sector (online platforms, telehealth systems, applications of new technology). Since the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is heavily regulated, most of my work has implications for health public policy.

What was the most helpful advice you’ve received from a professor/manager that still holds true?

There is a saying in "Confucian Analects":"When three are walking together, I am sure to find teachers among them. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them." This has been a great reminder to me to be open-minded, ready to learn from all around me.

View Hui's Smeal Directory profile