Mike Ford

PhD, Historical Musicology 2022

Mike Ford completed his PhD in Historical Musicology at Columbia University in December 2021. His research focused on improvisation in non-musical settings such as corporate management and lean startups. By transposing understandings of musical improvisation from musicology and critical improvisation studies, his research provides insights into the day-to-day activities and thinking of business leaders and founders.

Mike has presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences. His research has been published in Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisationMusicologica Olomucensia, and LitNet Akademies: 'n Joernaal vir Geesteswetenskappe, and he is a contributing editor of the first volume of the Vladimir Drozdoff Publication Project. Before coming to Columbia, Mike completed an MA in Musicology at Rutgers University and a BMus in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Pretoria. In addition to various university scholarships and grants, his studies have also been supported generously by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.

Mike has taught Music Humanities in the Columbia Core Curriculum and is a teaching assistant for The Leader's Voice: Communication Skills for Leading Organizations at the Columbia Business School. He served two terms as the GSAS Humanities Senator in the University Senate. Prior student government positions include External Affairs Vice President and Finance Chair of the Arts and Sciences Graduate Council. His dedication to student governance has been recognized through the Chinweike Okegbe Service Award

In 2018 and 2019, Mike participated in Susan Boynton's FAB-Musiconis exchange, a digital humanities project, with students at Sorbonne University in Paris, helping to index a bilingual database of medieval music iconography.

Aside from his academic pursuits, he has participated in entrepreneurship programs and applies his knowledge of improvisation in the context of corporate change management. Between 2018 and 2020, co-founded a cybersecurity company, Predictive Cyber Protection, LLC, which was active in the defense and cyber insurance markets and had contracted with the US Air Force.

After graduating from Columbia, Mike enrolled in the MBA program at INSEAD, class of 22D. Mike was on the Dean's List and received the MBA'70 Special Profile endowed scholarship He started in Fontainebleau (France) and also enjoyed an exchange to the campus is Singapore, where he completed a summer internship as a Product Manager Intern at Circular. He continued his student governance activities, albeit in a different way, as the president of the VINSEAD wine club. 


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An Agile Musicology: Improvisation in Corporate Management and Lean Startups
Columbia Degrees: 
MA, Historical Musicology
MPhil, Historical Musicology
PhD, Historical Musicology
Degrees from Other Institutions: 
Performing Arts (Orchestral Conducting)
University of Pretoria
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Professional Positions: 
Boston Consulting Group