Future Stars – Jeff Cummings

jamaica_2008-0983Year of the PhD program:

I will be finishing up my second year in the program here at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

Explain your background which has led you to the PhD program.

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degree at Texas Tech University. While there, I had contemplated the idea of continuing on to receive a doctorate degree but decided that some industry experience would be beneficial in my future endeavors. Upon graduation, my wife and I moved to Houston where I started as a systems analyst for Reliant Energy. During my tenure at Reliant, I participated in a number of roles as well as department changes while experiencing interactions with a wide range of technologies/programs from COBOL to SAP/ABAP.

After 5 years with the company, I decided it was time to move on. I was always interested in the research aspects of academia. After some soul searching and discussions with my wife, I decided to go back to academia to pursue my doctorate.

What research areas are you interested in?

Over the past few years, my interests have really changed from my initial intentions. As I started working with a number of faculty members at Indiana, I began to get interested in group interaction/behavior as well as the effects on computer mediated communication. I am currently working on a number of research topics around virtual teams, Web 2.0 adoption and the use of media with respect to synchronicity. Lately, I have been interested in healthcare IT.

What do you like to do for fun?

We are supposed to have time for fun? J

When I am not working on research or courses, I enjoy cycling and playing an occasional round of golf. My wife and I enjoy the outdoors and try to get out of the house to enjoy the weather in Bloomington (especially compared to Houston). Lately, much of spare time has been going into preparation for a new edition to the family. We are expecting our first child, a boy, this April.

Just curious – how often do you blog?

Until recently, I was not as much of a contributor to blogs although I did enjoy reading them. As I have started becoming involved in the OCIS website, I am more active in blogging and plan to continue.

Mention some things that you are currently doing which is helping to make your PhD career successful.

First and foremost, time management has been the key for a successful PhD career. Especially, since I was working before with a straight forward 8:00 to 5:00 job. While the program does allow flexibility, I have learned to schedule out my days, creating mini-milestones to achieve on a daily basis. As everyone knows, research is a long process that can often be discouraging when it comes to progress on a specific topic. These milestones help get me to that final product.

Discuss some challenges that you’ve encountered in your PhD career and how are you working to overcome them.

One of the most challenging aspects I have confronted during my PhD career has been thinking “academically”. As I started the program, I had a very narrow view of the world that would often be based upon my experiences within industry. While this has helped in some academic areas, I am working hard to think abstractly and looking at the larger picture when concerning research.

I am also facing the upcoming challenge of taking qualifying exams. And, just to make it more challenging, my wife and I are expecting to have our first child right before. My approach has been to begin preparation throughout this semester to be prepared for a new baby and limited time to study.

What are some issues that you would like to discuss/ask fellow OCIS members (i.e. some opinions on particular research areas, the PhD program, the job search, etc.)?

This is the same question all of us seem to have at this point in our academic career: How should we approach developing and thinking about our dissertation topic? While this is different for everyone, it would be great to hear opinions and approaches from fellow students in the same situation.

Another topic I would like to hear more discussion about is the current job market and how students’ faculty have suggested approaching the process.


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