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Ian Sinapuelas
Ian Sinapuelas

Sinapuelas shines in the classroom

Fifth-year doctoral student Ian Sinapuelas joined an elite group of educators last fall with his induction into the Purdue Teaching Academy as an Associate Fellow. Unfortunately, his skills in the classroom forced him to miss the ceremony — Sinapuelas was overseas teaching at GISMA Business School, Krannert’s partner institution in Hannover, Germany.

Still, the honor illustrates just how far the Philippines native has come, both literally and figuratively. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from
Ateneo de Manila University, he spent several years working in the marketing department at Sara Lee’s Philippines division before entering Krannert’s master’s program in 1999.

Sinapuelas continued his studies in Krannert’s economics doctoral program, where he cut his teeth as an instructor by helping with several recitation course sections. “I had no teaching experience prior to starting my PhD, so it was good training,” he says.

A class with OneAmerica Professor of Management Manohar Kalwani inspired Sinapuelas to switch his area of concentration to marketing, which soon allowed him to design and teach his own courses. “I had the opportunity to bring my work experience into the classroom and tie the concepts we discussed to real-world examples,” he says.

Sinapuelas has learned to adapt his teaching style to different audiences. For introductory or elective courses with students who aren’t management majors, he focuses more on application than theory. “I try to get them interested in the discipline of marketing by relating it to things they’ve seen outside the classroom,” he explains.

When teaching higher-level courses to management students, Sinapuelas goes into greater detail. “I ask them to think critically about the concepts and approach problems as if they were the manager,” he says. “There’s much more interaction.”

Teaching at GISMA prompted another change in his teaching philosophy. “I was accustomed to using American examples to illustrate concepts, but many students couldn’t relate to them because of the culture difference,” Sinapuelas says. “I found the right mix by balancing the core concepts with applications from the case method.”

Research is just as important to Sinapuelas as teaching. His current work focuses on new feature introduction in consumer packaged goods, such as Coke’s recent rollout of a lime-flavored cola. He uses examples from his research to spur class discussions, which often lead to ideas that warrant further investigation. “My research and teaching feed off each other,” he says.

Sinapuelas hopes his post-graduation academic career will allow for the same combination. “I really enjoy being in the classroom, but I’m looking for a position with a university that places equal emphasis on teaching and research,” he says.
Given his success at Krannert, it likely won’t be a long search.

— Eric Nelson

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