“When a friend asked what I wanted to study, Finance just jumped into my mind,” she said.
Throughout grade school and high school, Ji continued to build a strong foundation in math, but at China’s Tianjin University, Ji started looking for ways she could apply it in real life. “I thought about what I could do with math. In application, finance is an area where I could use my aptitude perhaps the best.”
At Arizona State University, where Ji earned a Ph.D. in finance, she decided academia was her path to make a difference in the world.
Today, Ji reminds her students—future finance professionals— that a solid foundation in math is critical. She asks them to explain formulas as she writes them on the board, “I ask my students to explain the logic. Usually, I help them articulate each step. That is one example of how to use math skills to solve financial problems,” said Ji, who served on university’s Planning and Budget Advisory Council (PBAC) and the Board of Trustee Finance and Budget Committee.
Her research interests go to empirical asset pricing, behavioral finance, and the marketplace, and she has published 12 articles in financial or economic journals.
The Academy of Finance gave Ji the 2017 Best in Track Award for risk management research following her most recent publication — “Macroeconomic Risk and Seasonality in Momentum Profits” in the Journal of Financial Markets, written with co-authors J. Spencer Martin and Yaqiong Yao.
GSU Newsroom: What advice do you give students to carry into the workplace?
Ji: Be professional. Even though it’s class, I try to implant the idea of being responsible for their actions. For example, exams — if they have to go to the airport to pick up friends or family and they have an exam, I tell them, “You have to make alternative arrangements. You are a student, so you have to prioritize scholarly work.” I try to have them develop the professionalism and be responsible for their actions and their work. I hope they’ll carry it into their career; it will be good for their long term success.
GSU Newsroom: What have you found the most rewarding in your career?
Ji: Seeing that I can make a difference. I see from the students’ comments and feedback that they enjoy the classes. I can see I’m influencing their lives and that’s the reward that makes me want to continue to make some positive changes.
GSU Newsroom: What motivates you to be involved beyond the classroom?
Ji: I’m at a career stage where I can be more involved and devoted to serve this community. It takes everybody’s effort to move the university forward and I do want to make my own contributions.
GSU Newsroom: Do you have a motto or mission statement that you live by?
Ji: Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. I used to be—and still am, I think, to a large extent—a perfectionist. I used to think everything had to be perfect. But then over time I realized nothing is perfect. You have to be accepting of that fact. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be great— to be wonderful. You don’t have to have everything to be happy or to be grateful.
GSU Newsroom: What is something your students may not know about you that they would find interesting?
Ji: I’m a sports fan— I used to be an amateur athlete on school teams. Running was my expertise. Here I learn about other sports. We didn’t have baseball in China. We didn’t have hockey in China. So I got to see new things. Just watching sports is a lot of fun. Chicago is such a wonderful city and has great sports teams.