Paul W. Thurman, Executive DBA
Professor of Management and Analytics
Paul, what made you decide to take an E-DBA?
I had started a doctoral degree years before but was unable to finish due to work travel and family events, not to mention that my advisor left the University before I finished my dissertation!
Why Paris and Ecole des Ponts Business School?
I had always wanted to study abroad and to complete my doctorate at a flexible pace and schedule. The Ponts E-DBA Program provided both of these opportunities, and with my children now older, I decided to give it a try. This program was also highly recommended to me by Dr. Santora, with whom I had written a book prior to my enrollment. He sold me on the flexibility. Paris was an easy sell in terms of location!
What was your subject?
I focused my studies on strategic issues facing healthcare institutions, specifically different business models for managing outsourced hospital services, the best ways to compute return-on-investment for publicly funded cancer research, and how to address public funding shortfalls for healthcare services to the poor.
How did you organize your time?
Very carefully! Fortunately, I was able to use some of the unfinished research from my prior doctoral studies. Also, given my position on the full-time faculty at Columbia University, I was able to use my quiet office when I wasn’t teaching or meeting with students. I focused on doing a little writing every day–at least five days every week–and on keeping in constant contact with my advisor as I made progress or hit roadblocks.
What was the advantage of having your peer support group, what we call your “braintrust”?
My braintrust helped me focus my topics and my writing–and also made sure I was writing language and prose that made sense to folks not as deeply connected to the research as I was.
What, for you, were the best takeaways from the program?
I loved the flexibility of the program (after classes were completed) and the ability to keep in constant contact with my classmates/braintrust and EDBA administrators/leaders. I felt fully informed the entire time, and all requirements were well-defined from the beginning.
What impact did the E-DBA have on your outlook and career?
I’ve been at Columbia for over 20 years on the full-time teaching faculties of three schools (Business, International and Public Affairs, and Public Health). The EDBA will certainly help my professional career as a teacher and now as a researcher. I hope to leverage my degree and obtain a tenured position in public health management and analytics. The program certainly helped me become a better researcher, and this, in turn, has made me a better teacher.
How does it feel to graduate?
Now that I’m in my early 50s, finishing something like this feels fantastic! I finally feel like a full-fledged/”equal” faculty member at Columbia, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the EDBA faculty and staff. Thank you! (And my wife and four daughters are happy to have me back in their lives!)
What advice would you share for someone thinking of taking the program?
DO IT! You may think you won’t have time, or cannot finish in time, but you can do it! I waited far too long in my career before doing something like this, but I’m delighted I did it!
What is your next move?
Obtain a leadership position in my department at Columbia, and hopefully obtain a long-term appointment, maybe even tenure!
People can contact me for questions about the program–especially those with academic backgrounds in teaching or research, already. I’m always looking for more teaching, speaking, and consulting work. Let me know how I can help with executive education, training, speaking, or even your business strategies!
+1 917 647 9090 (Mobile and WhatsApp)
Paul.W.Thurman (New York, NY) on Skype