"During the past two years I have been participating in PhD-level courses at ZLC and MIT and I have also been given the opportunity to take some classes at Harvard. "
Leo Gomes is a PhD student in the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program, at ZLC. When he is not working, Leo likes spending his free time outdoors doing sport (cycling, running, swimming, sailing, skiing, to name a few), cooking (close friends say that he is good at that!), and playing the guitar.
Back in 2013, you graduated from the MIT Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (GCLOG). One year later, you applied for admission to the MIT Zaragoza PhD program. What made you join it?
I joined the GCLOG program in 2012 because I wanted to advance my skills in supply chain and operations management and to earn a graduate-level academic credential from MIT. While I was participating in that program I had the opportunity of studying at three MIT SCALE centers: MIT CTL (USA), CLI (Colombia), and ZLC (Spain). However, by participating in such a program, I soon found that I wanted to deepen my theoretical knowledge within the field of SMC and I felt strongly motivated to further my education as far as the doctoral level. My program of choice was clear: MIT Zaragoza PhD, for its excellence, international recognition, uniqueness, and multicultural experience.
Prior to engaging in the doctoral studies, you worked in management consulting. Did your professional experience play a role in developing a research mindset?
Most of my prior academic and professional experience was focused on analyzing and solving management issues within a wide range of industries, such as financial services, manufacturing, infrastructure, and government. Throughout that time, I have developed a keen interest in supply chain management and finance, upon finding through study and experience that these are crucial aspects for solving some of the most complex contemporary organizational issues. Thus, I consider that my tenure as a management consultant has shaped my research mindset in the sense that I now have a stronger notion of the practical managerial implications that can be derived from academic research.
PhD students combine their studies in ZLC (Spain) and MIT (US) and you’ve just landed from the States! After two years of intense studies, how would you compare the PhD experience in the US to that in Europe?
Over the past two years I have been participating in PhD-level courses at ZLC and MIT and I have also been given the opportunity to take some classes at Harvard. However, these two years have been enduring: both for the challenging almost-one-to-one PhD courses at ZLC, during the first year, as well as for the intensive larger-sized classes at MIT and Harvard, during the second year.
It is possible to consider ZLC as a “boutique” (sorry for the management consulting jargon), one that is small but is of high quality and specialization. From this concept we can draw several advantages, such as having easier access to faculty and building closer relationships with classmates. On the other hand, MIT is a “full service” institute that offers a multitude of opportunities and the Boston area is itself one of the most powerful academic clusters in the world. The MIT Zaragoza International Logistics Program combines the best of both worlds and I am glad that I have gotten such an amazing opportunity!
So, now it’s time to focus on your PhD thesis. What is the theme of your research work?
As part of the MIT-Zaragoza Program, I have been granted a fellowship in supply chain risk management, which includes participating in a research project funded by the European Commission, in cooperation with several companies, such as DHL and BSH, with operations spanning multiple countries and continents. Thus, I am combining the “real-world motivation” that is intrinsic from this research project with my own research interests. My research work is related to the fields of finance, supply chain strategy, and supply chain risk management.
Additionally, you’ll assist a ZLC professor as a TA. Do you have any advice for the current and prospective students of ZLC?
To the current students: be a hard-worker, but do not forget to enjoy the journey. If you are not having fun, you are not taking the full benefit of the program! Note that this is not to say “work hard, party hard”, but that the payoff from pursuing graduate education from ZLC is more than just acquiring technical knowledge. Thus, one should aim at maximizing the personal and professional growth that a leading program like this can facilitate.
To all prospective students: it’s so worth it!
What are your plans after PhD?
LoL! There is still a long way to go and many things can happen within the, at least, two years remaining until my expected graduation. My only plan, currently, is to continue preforming a job that promotes practical innovation, which is possible to be done either within academia industry.