After earning two degrees from Georgia Tech, Sam Ransbotham considered pursuing his Ph.D. in information technology management from a different institution for the sake of variety.
But the College of Management 's ever-increasing reputation and high-quality faculty drew him back for a third degree. "It's a very supportive environment," says Ransbotham, who finished his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1988 and his MSM in 1990. "There's an excellent crop of Ph.D. students here. It's great being around all these people who are doing interesting things."
His initial plan after earning his MSM was to run his own software business for a couple of years, then return to school to pursue his research interests. "But a few years turned into several, and several turned into a bunch, and it became time to either do it or not," says the thirty-eight-year-old Atlanta native
Older than many doctoral students, Ransbotham knows his many years of real-world experience in his field are a valuable asset to his academic career. He founded the software-development company Pointe Technologies in 1990 and served as president until 2003. The Atlanta-based business, which grew to employ ten people, frequently took him to Europe. He spent several years living in Vienna, Austria, where the United Nations was one of his biggest clients.
"I could have easily kept doing it forever," says Ransbotham, whose stamina extends to running. He is gearing up for his fifth marathon this fall.
While he occasionally misses the excitement of running his own business, he knows academia was the right path to follow. Ransbotham, who is now teaching some of the undergraduate courses he once took at Tech, aims to find the best academic position he can after finishing his doctorate in 2007.
His research focuses on information security and strategic uses of information technology. Once considered primarily a technical issue, information security is demanding more and more attention from corporate management, Ransbotham says.
One of his recent studies examined the differences between opportunistic and planned attacks on corporate computer networks. "You can get attacked because you're attractive or because you've left your doors open," says Ransbotham, who recently earned a coveted spot in Tech's Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) program, which teaches the commercialization of new technologies. "Our research shows that these attacks are more of a process than a single event."