A native of Milan, Italy, Paolo Letizia earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and began his career at Accenture, an American consulting firm with an office in his home city.
“At Accenture, I was doing consulting in the area of operations, supply chain, and customer relationship management for companies in the industry of Communications and High Tech.,” Letizia says. “After about five years of experience in the industry, I decided to go back to study because I lacked formal training in supply chain management.”
Letizia pursued a degree at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, and later relocated to the United States to attend Penn State University as a PhD student in supply chain management and information systems.
“My doctoral dissertation focused on the problem of consumer returns,” Letizia says. “This attracted my curiosity a lot, because in Europe it is not so easy to return a product, but in the U.S., consumers have much more freedom to return and exchange goods.”
In 2012, Letizia relocated to the Netherlands to serve as an assistant professor of operations management at Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management. He continued his research on consumer returns, but after three years, he decided to seek a position elsewhere.
“Both my wife and I were missing the U.S.,” he says. “The research environment and conferences here are more focused and there are more opportunities.”
Ultimately, the Haslam College of Business’s involvement in the growing field of business analytics attracted Letizia to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
“Analytics is a very hot topic nowadays, both in academia and the industry,” he says. “Haslam’s business analytics department stood out to me, especially how they apply analytics to supply chain and operations management.”
Letizia was accepted as an assistant professor of business analytics at Haslam in 2015. He teaches courses in prescriptive analytics for MBA and PhD students, and his research on consumer returns and corporate/social responsibility for sustainability has been published in the journal Production and Operations Management.
Two years later, he remains happy with the career move.
“I really feel I’m in the right place, in a university that has really been very proactive to dig into a field that has become so important,” he says. “We have great opportunities here, not only from an academic perspective—we really build centers of knowledge for companies.”