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New Ivey faculty: Ting Li

Sep 15, 2022

Ting Li

Ting Li.

Ting Li is a new Assistant Professor of Information Systems who will be teaching core Information Technology courses in the HBA program. She recently completed her PhD in Digital Technology at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University. She also holds an MSc in Management Information Systems from the University of British Columbia. Li has a strong interest in digital entrepreneurship research. Her thesis looked into how startups and business incubators co-create entrepreneurial innovation with the help of digital technologies and she found that startups rely on different digital capability portfolios to succeed at different maturity stages. Read on to find out how she came to be passionate about digital technology.

Q&A with Ting Li

What is the most important thing business executives can learn from your research/area of expertise?

Digital technology does matter! With much of the world entering a virtual mode to adapt to the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies of all types need to reconsider their competency in leveraging digital technologies for sustained performance. My research shows that digital capabilities are  key differentiators that separate successful startups from the rest. I also find that business incubators are being transformed from siloed entrepreneurship support systems to platform-based orchestrators that facilitate startup-corporate collaboration. In my forthcoming MIS Quarterly Executive piece, I use the case of Instacart to demonstrate that innovative use of digital resources can create lucrative returns.

Where did you grow up and what was it like there?

I grew up with my grandparents in a tiny fishing village on Xuejia Island in Shandong province, mainland China. My parents worked three shifts at the time in a different province, and I didn’t see them often until I was seven years old. Growing up, my favourite thing to do was to wait for the neighbours to return from fishing so that I could help the ladies dry small fish on their house roofs. According to a local tradition, girls are not allowed to embark on fishing boats, so I decided to find my own way to explore the world outside.

Who have been your strongest influences in life?

Three people influenced me greatly in different ways:

  • My grandfather, Ruizi Deng, sheltered me from a patriarchal environment. He encouraged me to follow my heart and pursue my dreams, despite limiting family pressures.
  • My husband, Yuwei Chen, holds a strong belief in me and supports me wholeheartedly. He gave up his job in mainland China to join me in Canada and take care of our recently expanded family of three. 
  • My supervisor, Yolande Chan, PhD ’92, generously and professionally embraced my research interests and, step by step, mentored me to become an independent and passionate researcher.

What led you to your career?

As an undergraduate student, I wanted to be a professional esports player. It took me a while to realize that I had the passion, but not the talent. I then became determined to find a job where hard work pays off and that has “gamified” elements (e.g., creativity-driven discovery experience, new challenges are introduced regularly) to keep me engaged. So here I am, excited to start my tenure clock at Ivey.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I am an indoor person. When not working, I love to bake sweets with Lizzy, my lovely two-year-old daughter, and on sunny days, I sometimes bathe my two cats – Cookie and Dada. I am also a big fan of indoor gardening. I have three AeroGarden models at home, and I enjoy a variety of harvests (e.g., tomatoes, peppers, and basil).

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I played World of Warcraft at college and was the leader (and healer) of a 10-person team for four years. I also met my husband in this game. 

What is the most played song on your playlist as of now?

Always With Me by Youmi Kimura (piano).

What book would you recommend to others?

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by American entrepreneur, Eric Ries. This book explains how people envision and create value under extreme uncertainty and shows that entrepreneurship is both art and science. I developed my research interest in digital entrepreneurship after reading this book.

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