Insights at UBC Sauder

The new faces of UBC Sauder’s faculty - Gene Lee

Posted 2017-10-04

At UBC Sauder, faculty members are more than just ‘professors.’ They conduct impactful research that is changing how society views the world while also inspiring students to pursue their academic passions and become the thoughtful, values-driven leaders the business world needs.

This year, UBC Sauder welcomed 14 new full-time lecturers, tenured and tenure-track faculty to the school. In the first of this series, we introduce you to some of the new faces of UBC Sauder’s faculty, beginning with Accounting and Information Systems Assistant Professor Gene Moo Lee.

What brought you to UBC Sauder?

UBC Sauder has the world’s best researchers in my field – period! Plus, I love the beautiful campus!

What are your areas of research and how did you get into this field?

I was in a Computer Science Ph.D. program, where I met my advisor from the Information Systems field. I was fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of the field, since his work was an intersection of Information Systems, Computer Science and Economics.

My research focuses on business analytics and trying to analyze big data to facilitate data-driven decisions. I’ve worked on different types of big data in the domains of mobile app markets, social media, e-commerce, accounting and cybersecurity. The unstructured nature of such data sets is a challenge, and I use machine learning methods on them.

What inspires you to teach?

Related to my research interests, I want to provide hands-on projects on emerging big data analytics technologies so that students can make data-driven decisions related to challenging business and societal problems. This year, I’ll be teaching courses on business analytics and programming.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?

Machine learning is very powerful in capturing “structured” knowledge from noisy unstructured data. For example, by analyzing a large number of business descriptions from different firms, we can identify industry trends. Also, algorithms can understand the “meaning” of photos, similar to what humans can do. The meanings include "Who is in the photo?", "How beautiful is it?", and “What is the adult content level of the photo?”, to name a few. From there we can measure the impact of those social media photos on user engagement.

What do you believe is the future of your industry?

Big data analytics is transforming various industry sectors from IT and software to healthcare, education, operations and finance. The volume of data will only get larger, the speed of data generation will only get faster and the variety will be only wider. As such, data-driven capabilities will be one of the most important factors for competitive advantage. There’s also a high demand on data scientist and business analytics professionals in the job market, so in that sense, I think our new Master of Business Analytics (MBAN) program will bring great contributions to the school and to the society.

What are you most looking forward to doing in Vancouver?

Since we settled down at Vancouver, my family is making many trips to enjoy the city’s beautiful nature. We will keep exploring ‘Beautiful British Columbia.’