Junghoon is a PhD candidate in Baruch College at the City University of New York. His goal is to support businesses to identify and adopt practices that mitigate negative externalities and increase positive outcomes for people and for the planet.
He was inspired to pursue a PhD when he learned in his undergraduate degree that firms pursue profit while also being asked to play an important role in tackling grand challenges faced by society—even if it means less revenue.
Junghoon explores whether profit maximization and sustainability can be compatible, how firms can pursue sustainability and profit simultaneously, and investigates what sustainability actually means for businesses.
Through his PhD, he hopes to connect and collaborate with other passionate scholars.
Here is Junghoon’s story.
What are the top three highlights, professional skills, or other experiences you have had during your time as a PhD student?
I have really enjoyed improving my English skills to support me in better communicating with others. Before coming to New York for my PhD, I had never visited an area where English was the native language. Connecting and sharing my resources and capabilities with undergraduate students through teaching has been especially rewarding. And, of course, framing out a story based on a research question worth exploring has been exciting.
How would you summarize your research project in a short title?
The title of my research would be “Implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in Business.” I investigate mechanisms through which firms respond differently to grand challenges faced by society—such as climate change and human health—and how they can better manage their social and environmental impacts in light of progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In brief, what is the empirical method/context you are adopting in your thesis?
I normally analyze a data set in which the behaviour of firms is observed across time. I recently collected and organized the United States’ EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data as a panel data set. I am also interested in interdisciplinary approaches at the intersection of business and public health.
Can you describe a “eureka moment” you might have had during your PhD?
I have had two “eureka moments” during my PhD. First, I had such a moment when I found the publicly available EPA data set that could help me test my hypothesis. Second, when a senior professor, as a co-author, showed me a type of alchemy that turned the underdeveloped paper into a theoretically and practically insightful one with a coherent story line.
What three tips would you offer to new PhD students in your field?
1. Establish trust and build a relationship with your advisor and faculty members.
2. Build a support group that offers you support, encouragement, and comfort.
3. Don’t blame yourself too hard during your PhD.
What side projects, communities, or other initiatives are you involved with?
I have served as a committee member of the Sustainability PhD Community affiliated with the AOM ONE Division and GRONEN since August 2021. I have had the great pleasure connecting with like-minded PhD students by organizing a wide array of scholarly and networking events.
At Baruch College, I have supported the Baruch Climate Action Collaborative since Fall 2020. This initiative aims to create a vision for interdisciplinary climate change education and help students become future climate change leaders in their field. As part of this initiative, I had a chance to conduct a research project called “The assessment of environmental sustainability/climate change course content in the Zicklin Business School curricula.”
I have also served as the Resident Fellow for the school housing for graduate students for the past three years. In my role as a Resident Fellow, I have assisted residents and worked with the housing administration to maintain comfortable and functional living conditions.
What hobbies or interests do you enjoy outside of work?
I practise hot yoga twice a week in a room that is heated and humidified. Hot yoga helps me focus on my PhD journey and keeps me fit as a fiddle!
In one or two sentences, what does the GRONEN community mean to you?
The GRONEN community is doubly special for me. First, I presented a research project at the 2020 Conference, which was turned into my first academic publication in the PhD program. I received constructive feedback from multiple Conference attendees.
Second, the 2020 Conference was my first (virtual) conference presentation ever. I appreciate GRONEN’s continued scholarly support for junior scholars including PhD students.
What’s next for you?
The end of PhD journey is in sight. I will be prepared to pass my dissertation defence and reap successful outcomes on the job market this summer. I am looking forward to contributing to the fields of management and business and society for years to come.
Ryan Johnson, PhD student in the Sustainability Management program at the University of Waterloo.