‘Hard work’ is the key to Chair Professor Leng Mingming’s success
The learning curve and academic path of Prof Leng Mingming (Pictured), Dean of the Faculty of Business, and Acting Director of the Institute of Insurance and Risk Management, may sound impossible to many, but he has proved that it is possible -- if you work hard.
Born in Jiangxi Province, Prof Leng left China for Canada to pursue a PhD in 2001, after working as a futures broker and later a manager in mergers and acquisitions for five years. In just four years, he had received his PhD degree in Management Science/System, and had completed nine academic papers, among which five were accepted for publication before graduation.
“I worked every day from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm in the PhD office -- no weekends, no holidays -- for four years,” he recalled. “Nobody can imagine it -- and during my first five years at Lingnan, I worked in the office every day. Again, no weekends, no holidays, not even the first day of the Lunar New Year. Hard work guarantees achievement.”
2007 was the toughest year for Prof Leng, as he had to teach seven courses in four subjects, three of which were newly developed by himself. “I remember one afternoon I had to teach from 1pm to 6pm without a break. I had to run between classes.” He spent weekends preparing for the classes, as well as conducting his own research. That was the year, his son was born. “No matter how busy I am now, or how much work there is, compared to 2006-7, that’s all small potatoes!”
Due to his dedication and hard work, Prof Leng, who joined Lingnan in 2005, was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Computing and Decision Sciences, and Founding Director of the Doctor of Business Administration in Global Digital Economy and Governance Programme and the Master of Science Programme in eBusiness and Supply Chain Management, and, more recently, Chair Professor of Computing and Decision Sciences.
Prof Leng’s priority research areas are game theory and supply chain management. Both require a high level of mathematical skill, something that has always fascinated Prof Leng. “As a child, the best way for me to relax was to work on Math Olympiad problems. They stimulated me, and helped me to answer even the most difficult questions. I felt like a champion,” the former national Mathematical Olympiad team member, who had perfect scores in maths in the Gaokao (The National College Entrance Examination in Mainland), said.
Prof Leng has published a number of papers in top-tier, highly respected journals, including Management Science, Operations Research, Production and Operations Management, IISE Transactions, Naval Research Logistics, the European Journal of Operational Research, and Operations Research Letters. He is also a member of the Editorial Review Board of Production and Operations Management, and an Associate Editor of INFOR: Information Systems and Operational Research. Professor Leng has won several General Research Fund grants from the Research Grants Council.
“There’s a big gap between mathematical models and real operations,” Prof Leng says of the research in operational management. “However, for the past five years researchers have done more realistic work with data. Data-driven is the trend: we collect data and use them to establish a mathematical model, then use the model to solve other problems. We must work out how to combine AI and big data technology with operations management to find a more practical scientific solution,” he stresses.
Prof Leng added that researchers can collaborate with big data experts to effectively combine AI and big data techniques with conditional mathematical problems. “This kind of research will bring our academic areas closer to practice. Big data is the bridge.”
Looking ahead, Prof Leng is determined to strengthen the Faculty’s research by raising the bar for standards such as requirements for the submission of papers, and to enhance LU’s teaching and learning, and student exchange experiences by collaboration with top universities.
“Business education is very competitive. We must always work hard to improve and be able to fight off challenges,” Prof Leng said.