Throughout her consulting career, Denise McCurdy has helped enterprise-level clients leverage technology. She’s always been tech-savvy, but when blockchain innovations hit the market, she found herself perplexed by a whole new beast. (Put simply, blockchain refers to an unalterable list of time-stamped transactions that are linked across a peer-to-peer network.)
“In order to make my business viable, I needed to develop street cred and write a dissertation on blockchain,” McCurdy says.
That was two and a half years ago. Now McCurdy is fully engrossed in her studies in the Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB) program at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business. She is particularly interested in implementing blockchain in the supply chain space. So as part of her dissertation, McCurdy is developing a proof of concept that will uncover the critical decisions executives must make when deploying blockchain in a shared supply chain.
Like her classmates, McCurdy has more than two decades of professional experience under her belt, but reentering the classroom threw her out of her comfort zone. McCurdy’s cohort probably shared her sentiment that her days as a student felt like a lifetime ago. However, during their monthly residencies, McCurdy and her peers bounced ideas off each other and hugely informed each other’s research.
“One classmate’s dissertation focuses on technology acceptance for surgical products,” McCurdy says. “We are facing very different business problems, but the concepts we apply to solve them are essentially the same.”
In addition to balancing the demands of her consulting practice with the EDB program, McCurdy audited Baozhong Yang’s graduate-level Introduction to FinTech course.
“I needed to dive deeper into the technology itself,” she explains.
As part of the class, McCurdy participated in Robinson’s Blockchain Innovation Competition, where she and four teammates won first place and a cash prize. McCurdy and her collaborators designed and coded DappyFish, an artificial intelligence-driven system to prevent fish fraud.
“If you order red snapper at a restaurant, you likely won’t end up being served red snapper,” she says.
Through DappyFish, fish are tagged with a phone on the boat and remain identified throughout their distribution journey, all the way to the person who purchases, say, a tilapia fillet at a grocery store or tuna tartare at an eatery.
“My teammates were my children’s age, but I learned from them, and they learned from me,” McCurdy says. “It was such a positive experience.”
McCurdy has attracted clients who are interested in incorporating blockchain into their businesses. In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Center for Global Development, she co-wrote a policy paper on how governments in emerging markets can harness blockchain to procure health supplies. She also is in conversation with a prospective client from the manufacturing space.
Though McCurdy is a year away from completing her Executive Doctorate in Business, her investment in the program already is paying off. Come graduation, she certainly will have earned her stripes.