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Jack Ma

Ioana Popescu

Professor of Decision Sciences


Ioana Popescu is a Professor of Decision Sciences and holds the Strategy& Chair at INSEAD. She has a dual PhD in Operations Research and in Applied Mathematics from MIT, and a BA (summa cum laude) in Mathematics and Computer Science from Wellesley College.

For the past 20 years, Ioana has been researching a wide range of avenues for making decisions, based on theoretical models, data, emotions and, more recently, the body. In her work, she likes challenging assumptions and connecting fields. Owing to her math background, her research started off anchored in classical quantitative models of optimization and uncertainty. She then applied these models to develop practical pricing decision-support algorithms for organisations. Ioana brought the human element into this research field by incorporating emotions and biases into analytical decision models. With a purpose to serve the economically underprivileged, she developed structural models and field experiments to improve access to energy in Africa. Finally, because this work hasn’t actually helped her make better decisions, she is currently exploring embodied approaches to decision making.

Ioana is passionate about education. She teaches a variety of courses on decision making, to MBAs, executives and PhDs. She developed new courses, including the first business course on pricing analytics, and recently an experiential course on embodied decisions.

Ioana has received numerous accolades for her research and teaching, including the Best Teacher Award for MBA core courses and the Dean’s Commendation for Teaching Excellence. Her research was featured in leading academic journals, including Management Science, Operations Research, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, Mathematics of Operations Research, and honoured with several research excellence awards, including the M&SOM Best Paper Award, the INFORMS Decision Analysis Best Student Paper Award, the INFORMS Junior Faculty Best Paper Award and a Nicholson prize finalist. In service to the academic community, Ioana has mentored several PhD students, held Associate Editor positions at the major journals and served on the academic board of ESMT.

Originally from Romania, Ioana has lived on four continents, and was honoured as a YGL (2009) by the World Economic Forum. She is an artist at heart and finds it difficult to write academic bios.

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A Smarter Way to Design Business Strategies to Serve the Poor

I. Popescu, B.S. Uppari, S. Netessine, R. Clarke

With intelligent modelling, a little data can go a long way when it comes to predicting the performance of bottom-of-the-pyramid strategies.


How the Lean Startup Approach Can Alleviate Poverty

Experimenting before plunging into major investments can pay off in the long run.
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