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Interviews | Oct 06, 2017 |

Talking with … Zixin Mao

Zixin MaoEvery “Talking with…” installment gives you a closer look into the life of a different Gabelli School faculty member, administrator, or staff member. This week, get to know Zixin Mao, assistant director of faculty technology and an adjunct instructor.

What course do you teach at Fordham?
Web Analytics. Teaching has been, and continues to be, a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about our students and a powerful medium to discover many ways to improve myself.

Can you explain a technology challenge at the Gabelli School you recently solved?
Our team recently built a recording studio at Lincoln Center for online course production and delivery. It’s a modest space that serves a big purpose. Now we spend time developing our support capacity for this space—technology without support is like a car with no engine.

Ultimately, people are the solutions, and that’s where we invest our energy. We grow our capacity through training, development, motivation, and improvements in processes and communications.

How did earning your MS in Business Analytics at Fordham help with your role?
Data have always been interesting to me because they have stories waiting to be told. What is even more intriguing is that people tell different stories from the same data depending on how they choose to look at the information, the rigor of their analyses, and their biases and agendas. The program helped me to be an even more critical consumer of data.

How can people—or a business—use analytics to help them better serve their community?
There are plenty of examples of people using analytics to reduce energy waste, solve traffic problems, and improve students’ learning experiences. These are good problems to tackle.

You’re currently pursuing your EdD in executive leadership at the Graduate School of Education. What motivated you to do so?
Originally I wanted to learn more about education simply because it is my career. I needed the insights so I could perform more effectively in my current and future roles. Since the start of my program, I have been learning about information: evaluating, analyzing, framing, organizing, using, and producing it. I think now I just enjoy being in the classroom.

If you weren’t working in IT, what would you be doing?
Maybe teaching. I like being in a learning environment where people discuss ideas and share thoughts.

 

Fun questions

Sweet or salty snacks?
Sweet. My favorite is rasgulla. It’s basically cheese soaked in syrup.

You’re at a park with nice scenery. Do you take a hike or helicopter ride to view it?
I will take a hike 96 percent of the time because I like to stay in close touch with nature. A helicopter ride once in a while would allow me to see things differently.

Favorite movie soundtrack:
“Making Water” from the movie The Martian. You hear a buildup of energy that transcends to a beautiful spirit. I like to listen to it on my morning commute or when I study at night. It also makes me think of New York City.

The best part about fall is:
The brilliant foliage—nature’s fireworks.

What’s the longest road trip you’ve ever taken?
For three weeks, I once drove over 3,000 miles in California. That’s roughly the same distance across the country from coast to coast.

If you were given an extra hour tomorrow, how would you use it?
To design a ceiling light that looks neat.

 

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