"From junior to senior hires, Georgia Tech is building a great IT management department."
After earning two degrees from Georgia Tech, Sam Ransbotham considered pursuing his PhD in information technology management from a different institution for the sake of variety.
But the College of Management's 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, his master's in management in 1990, and PhD in 2008.
He says the College of Management's rapidly rising reputation in IT management was a great help in landing his first academic post. He started at Boston College as an information systems assistant professor in fall 2008.
"From junior to senior hires, Georgia Tech is building a great IT management department," Ransbotham says. "And the better they get, the better I look."
A native of Smyrna, Georgia, Ransbotham quickly grew to love Boston. However, he adds that it's a good thing he lives right across the street from Boston College with his wife and one-year-old daughter. "I'm able to walk to school every day, which is nice because I'm a Southerner who has no earthly idea how to drive in the snow."
For Ransbotham, entering academia was a major mid-career shift. He founded the software development company Pointe Technologies in 1990 and served as president until 2003, when he began the PhD program. He grew his Atlanta-based company to employ 10 people serving a globally diverse list of clients.
While he found running his own business exciting, he knows academia was the right path to follow. "Academics are fabulous," he says. "It's hard to believe they pay me to do this, because it's so much fun. It's great to be around students while you work on interesting problems."
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 recently published in the journal Information Systems Research 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. "Our research shows that these attacks are more of a process than a single event. They do a lot of prep work for later attacks, like casing houses in a neighborhood.
"We used to think of these types of crimes being conducted by misunderstood whiz kids who hack computers in their spare time, but that's no longer the case," he adds. "Now it's big-time organized crime."
Ransbotham is maintaining close ties to Tech. For example, he partnered with Nicholas Lurie, assistant marketing professor at Georgia Tech, to win one of only 11 awards granted by Google and WPP Marketing Research for the study of how online media influences consumer behavior, attitudes, and decision making.