The definition of success can change from one person to the next but, for me, it all comes down to adaptability, continuous learning and hard work. My own background is a testament to this: born and raised in Vietnam, I established a thriving research and consultancy career after earning both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the UK before completing my PhD in the Netherlands. I’ve always had an eye toward innovation and using applied mathematical models to tackle real-world business challenges. Through my award-winning PhD thesis, I investigated the utility of artificial intelligence in the global floriculture chain. Now, I’m excited to pass on the learnings gained over my long career to the next crop of applied mathematicians, hopefully teaching them how to use their technical expertise to meaningfully impact the world. And when I get some free time, I enjoy traveling, gardening and listening to music.
Harnessing applied mathematics to improve the world of business
Assistant professor Huong May Truong’s academic and career paths have long been shaped by her abiding interest in various quantitative models and their application to solving business problems. After spending her childhood in her native home of Vietnam, she traveled to the UK for her undergraduate studies in business and management at Aston University. This also served as her introduction to multiple business challenges, sparking her crusade to transform the business world and teaching her the value of mathematics within that context.
Driven by a new curiosity about applied mathematics, as well as a desire to hone her technical expertise in the same, Huong went on to join the University of Edinburgh to pursue her Master of Science degree in Operational Research. Determined to reach the apex of her academic potential, she embarked on her postgraduate journey in the Netherlands at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she earned her PhD in Information Systems. Her resulting thesis has received accolades for its excellence in research, including winning the Association for Information Systems (AIS) Impact Award in 2020.
Huong’s mastery of applied mathematics has led to numerous opportunities in multiple research and consulting projects across Europe. Her main areas of research interest lie in digital market design, multi-channel systems and the economic impact of information systems. As a result of her innovative thought leadership, her work has been published in several leading publications, such as the Information Systems Research journal and the Management Information Systems (MIS) Quarterly.
That said, Huong recently made the transition from pure research to teaching at IE University. Currently an assistant professor in information systems, she is thoroughly enjoying the new experience of sharing her research and industry knowledge with her students. It also helps that the students she meets at the university are from a host of diverse backgrounds, bringing fresh perspectives and different points of view to the classroom. This, coupled with IE University’s dynamic, collaborative environment, provides a fertile ground for inspiration and new ideas.
“To deal with real-world problems, we need not only technical knowledge but also industry and market knowledge. Many traditional programs in mathematics education tend to focus on the former; the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics is well-balanced between both.”
However, Huong hasn’t completely left her research roots behind. Her current project involves working closely with the biggest floriculture market in the world—the Netherlands—to probe a unique category of market designs, where posted price channels, or pre-sales, are integrated with the century-old Dutch auction system. This is just another avenue for Huong to utilize different quantitative models to tackle business challenges.
Her focus is now on making the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics a viable, attractive prospect for as many incoming students as possible. According to her, the program is different from the rest as it offers a well-balanced learning approach, providing not only technical capabilities in mathematics but also the latest insights into industries and markets—both of which are essential elements to solving problems in the real world. Not only that, but students also have the chance to build a solid knowledge base in artificial intelligence and mathematical modeling, and to explore how such models are used in a wide range of industries ranging from general business to finance, biology and more.
Further, Huong explains that the Bachelor in Mathematics provides concentrations that allow students to specialize in their specific area of interest. This also opens up numerous career prospects in multiple sectors as students gain both the hard and soft skills to operate in diverse and dynamic work environments. In fact, her classes are designed to help students become market-ready, with a mix of fundamental and advanced classes to expand their skill set. Complemented by practical teaching methods such as group work, case studies and presentations, the program gives students the comprehensive toolkit required to succeed in the professional world.
Huong signs off by offering students her unique recipe for success: “Work hard but work smart, improve continuously and be adaptable.”