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Zoya Kinstler

Consultant and Educator: Digital Technology Architecture for Business Enterprises

Zoya Kinstler

Why I teach Information Management Systems at Harvard Extension School

Learning and discovering. As the saying goes, if you want to learn something, teach it. My enterprise architecture course, by necessity, is very dynamic. I update my course materials every semester to ensure that the syllabus reflects the state of the field.

“I believe graduate education is about training the mind to think.”

And of course, the joy of seeing my students succeed. Teaching enterprise architecture means doing away with rote memorization and focusing on systems thinking instead. We learn by studying cases: reading solution implementation stories teaches us how to diagnose and solve all kinds of issues. With master’s degrees from Harvard Extension School, my students win new and interesting jobs, launch their own companies, and pursue PhDs. They make me proud.

Student Collaborations

Students work in teams on their Information Management Systems (IMS) capstone projects, which is a semester-long effort. The resulting final papers are comprehensive business technology proposals, prepared to meet standards of professional quality and academic rigor. It is a challenging but rewarding experience for all participants. It involves a lot of learning, discussion, and exchange of ideas.

The course culminates with a symposium-style event showcasing final capstone projects to the faculty panel and guests, including IMS program alumni.

I believe graduate education is about training the mind to think. My class is an interactive seminar that encourages students to learn from each other and to share their research. By running several team projects in parallel, we multiply the volume of what can be learned in a single semester. For example, if one team does a project on corporate data security, another on artificial intelligence for healthcare, and a third on robotic process automation, the whole class gets to learn all these topics in greater depth than they would through lectures and readings alone. The format may be labor-intensive for both the instructor and the students, but it is super rewarding!

Changes in the IMS Field

In the past, digital transformation ran on two parallel tracks: business and IT. These tracks were expected to work in tandem– “business and IT alignment” was the buzzword of the last decade. You had two separate stacks of strategic plans, investments, and metrics: one for the business, another for IT.

Now, “alignment” is becoming a bad word because merely “aligning” business and IT is not enough. Business strategy has to be based on technology strategy, and vice versa. It is a great time to innovate because so much new and emerging technology is at our fingertips: not only IoT and AI-based products but also cloud infrastructure, common API protocols, high-performance analytics, and the unprecedented interoperability of modern software.

More About Zoya

Dr. Zoya Kinstler teaches two courses, “Capstone Seminar in Digital Enterprise” and “Case Studies in Enterprise Architecture,” in the graduate program of Information Management Systems.

Kinstler is an expert in digital technology architecture for business enterprises. She has over thirty years of experience in telecommunications, business-to-business software integration, and multi-channel web platforms. Her business acumen is informed by extensive technical expertise in enterprise architecture, communications technologies, software engineering, and computer science.

A native of Latvia, Kinstler received an MS in economics and cybernetics from the University of Latvia and a PhD in mathematical economics from Moscow State University. Her research and publications are in general systems theory, econometrics, and management science.

Before immigrating to the United States in 1988, Kinstler was an assistant professor at Latvia State Executive Education Institute. She began her career in the U.S. as a software engineer for various businesses. During the early years of the dot-com era she was a principal investigator at GTE Laboratories. There, her team built electronic commerce tools, including the first XML-based online billing solution.

Until 2019, Zoya was an Enterprise Architect at Verizon Communications, where she was responsible for business analysis and technical assessments of software solutions for global business contracts.

In 2004, Harvard Extension School launched a new concentration in Information Management Systems (IMS) and invited Dr. Kinstler to teach the program’s capstone course. Since then, many generations of IT professionals have completed capstone projects in her course. She is a recipient of 2012 Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award.

Kinstler serves on the advisory board for information technology programs at Harvard Extension School and on the organizing committee for Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan CIO Symposium.