Alumni of the week

Use technology to make better decisions

Kateryna Maltseva


PhD Candidate

BI Norwegian Business School

MSc in Strategic Marketing Management

“Everyone I work with wants to do something about the problems our society faces. ”

At 27 years old, Kateryna is well into her PhD, finding out how digital self-tracking devices affect the way people think and behave. After doing a master’s programme in Strategic Marketing Management at BI, and liking the working culture here, she again said «yes» to academia.

Why did you choose to study in Norway, and why BI?

- I have always wanted to study abroad. It feels natural for me to explore other countries and experience different cultures. Norway seemed very different from Ukraine – much more egalitarian and international, which I think is a good combination. I heard about BI during a presentation at the university where I was doing my bachelor degree (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy). I read as much as I could about BI in order to understand what kind of experience BI offers, and got really excited about it.

Why did you choose Strategic Marketing Management?

- I did my bachelor in Sociology, which was a very interesting field, however, it was too theoretical for me. Marketing seemed like a very applied discipline. The way the Strategic Marketing Management programme was designed, suggested a good balance between theory and practice.

How did your master degree prepare you for your PhD?

- First of all, I got to know BI's environment, academically and socially. Because of that, I already had some understanding of the working culture: how the PhD programme is designed, what topics are researched at BI, and what collaborations BI has. I basically just got on board. I did not have to spend time adjusting to the working environment.

- Secondly, when doing a master’s degree at BI you get a crash course in “what research is”. Because you are expected to read so many academic articles, and because professors very often incorporate their research findings into their teaching, you get a “first-hand experience” about how research can be done.

Why did you choose academia as you first workplace?

- Doing a PhD has never been a plan. Actually, one of my closest friends, who I met at BI, convinced me to do it. I was not really sure what I wanted to do professionally, but she literally talked me into applying for a PhD position. Even after I signed the contract I was not sure if I would be happy doing a PhD, nor if I was a good fit for the programme. (It turned out, I was not at all unique having those doubts – many PhD students think that way). But now, three years on, I can definitely say I am very happy with my decision.

What is the most challenging thing about doing a PhD?

- Very often the work I do seems very intangible. I spend a lot of time reading and writing, and probably even more time re-writing. It is a never-ending cycle. Unless the project has been published, or at least submitted somewhere, I do not have any tangible results of work. So, at times it is difficult to justify progress.

What is the most rewarding/exciting thing about doing a PhD?

- I work with fantastic people. I think academia attracts a certain kind of person: very enthusiastic and well-meaning. Everyone I work with wants to do something about the problems our society faces. For example, among the questions my colleagues are tackling are how to improve working conditions in gig economy, how to design inclusive AI applications, how to make consumerism more sustainable. It is very exciting to be around colleagues who are so driven and passionate about what they do.

Can you tell us a little about your research and what you have found so far?

- I am interested in how different digital self-tracking devices, for instance, Fitbit and Garmin, affect the way people think and behave. It is quite a new research area and it is developing really fast. One of the aspects I am focusing on is how using different tracking technologies affect decision making. We have established a link between tracking different biological data (e.g. pulse) and the ability to sense one’s body. In other words, people who use self-tracking apps and wearables seem to feel changes in their heart-rate and temperature better in contrast to people who do not use self-tracking technologies. Knowing what is happening with your body is, in turn, linked to decision making: people who accurately feel what’s happening inside their bodies seem to perform better in for example gambling exercises. What I am testing now is whether the link is causal: whether using self-tracking technologies improves decision making.

What impact do you think your research theme/field will have in different areas of society in the future?

- I hope that my findings will help consumers make more informed choices. I would like to raise more awareness about the implications of using products like Fitbit and show how people can use those products to their maximum advantage.

Read more about Katerynas PhD and her scientific publications