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Punyatoya Awarded University Sales Center Alliance Research Grant

Marketing Ph.D. Student Recognized for Sales Research
Punyatoya Awarded University Sales Center Alliance Research Grant
Plavini Punyatoya, a marketing Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, recently received a University Sales Center Alliance 2022 Research Grant. Only the second doctoral student in the program's history to receive the honor, she earned the honor for her innovative sales research.

Plavini Punyatoya, a marketing Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, recently became the second Ph.D. student ever to receive a research grant from the University Sales Center Alliance (USCA). Punyatoya’s proposal, “Effective Time Management In Sales: When An Hour Is More Than Sixty Minutes,” earned the award for her ingenuity and exploration of the time management aspect of sales.

“The University Sales Center Alliance research grant program aims to recognize innovative, rigorous sales research with potential applications for industry. Plavini did a great job in meeting these criteria. Time management is an area that is critically under-researched, but innately practical,” said Alexander Haas, professor of marketing at Justus-Liebeig University in Giessen, Germany, who chaired the faculty selection committee for the award.

As a College of Business Ph.D. student, Punyatoya receives one-on-one mentoring from renowned business faculty and to collaborate on research in top-tier academic journals.
As a College of Business Ph.D. student, Punyatoya receives one-on-one mentoring from renowned business faculty who also collaborate with her on research in top-tier academic journals.

Through the research grant program, the USCA aims to support sales research with the potential for applications for industry and academia. Punyatoya’s research investigates time management practices salespeople can use to improve their sales performance.

“The continuously changing workplace environment demands salespeople perform many tasks within a specific timeframe. The research addresses the critical question, ‘When the target is to finish multiple tasks within finite work hours, what strategies should the salespeople use, and what are the boundary conditions?’” Punyatoya said.

Punyatoya became the second doctoral student ever to receive the USCA recognition. Carissa Kim, also a marketing Ph.D. student at Nebraska, earned the award in 2020.

“This is an international grant open to anyone in the world and the selection committee only awards one or two applicants annually. Plavini was one of two winners and the other winner is a full professor and established sales scholar. What is notable is that her proposal was based on her second-year paper that our students are expected to do in the Ph.D. program,” said Ravi Sohi, professor of marketing, Robert D. Hays Distinguished Chair of Sales Excellence and executive director of the Center for Sales Excellence.

As a Ph.D. student within the College of Business, Punyatoya receives personalized one-on-one mentoring from renowned business faculty. She credits the support from her department with helping her produce award-winning research and pushing her to excel in academia.

“I had many brainstorming discussions about innovative ideas with my advisor, Ravi Sohi. When I discussed the concept of time management in sales, he guided and helped me shape my research idea. He has always advised me not just to be intuitive but also innovative while conducting research,” she said.

Sohi explained how doctoral work like Punyatoya’s contributes to the reputation of high-level research done in the Department of Marketing and at Nebraska.

“As a research university, the quality of our Ph.D. program is an important indicator of our commitment to research and developing future scholars. The research done by our Ph.D. students is an outcome of the time and resources we invest in working with them. When a Ph.D. student wins an international award such as this, it reflects the research training we provided them, which elevates the status of the Department of Marketing and the Center for Sales Excellence,” he said.

Now in her second year at Nebraska Business, Punyatoya plans to continue contributing to marketing and sales research.

“This grant means a lot to me and provided me with recognition in the marketing field. It allows me to conduct my research studies wholeheartedly,” Punyatoya said. “I want to contribute to my field as a thorough and path-breaking researcher and work on practically relevant and yet-ignored research topics in the future.”

Nebraska's marketing Ph.D. students are the only doctoral students to win the USCA research grants so far. Alongside Punyatoya, a marketing Ph.D. alum won the other grant awarded by the USCA this year. Avinash Malshe, ’05, professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, holds research interests in marketing strategy, business to business marketing, sales management and value co-creation.

To learn more about Ph.D. opportunities at Nebraska Business, visit: To learn more about the Center for Sales Excellence, visit:

Published: January 31, 2023