Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lessons from a CEO and Alum

Today, my Logistics and Transportation class had the pleasure and honor of having Marc Schneider, the CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions, who is also an Isenberg School alum, class of '81, come and speak.

It was a perfect October day with bright sunshine, blue sky, and the foliage in its colorful majesty.

I managed to see Marc, who had driven from his home 100 miles away, sitting in front of the Isenberg School so we began the day with a very pleasant chat and then were joined by the Isenberg School Dean, Dr. Mark A. Fuller, so I could not resist taking the photo below.
Marc was being escorted throughout his busy day by Andrew Clendinneng, our Executive Director of Development, who was kind enough to bring us coffee and a latte.. Marc's  day included meeting with 3 classes of students, meeting with our Dean, and a special lunch. But my class was his first slot of the day, which was great.

We benefited from his wisdom delivered in a conversational mode with a lot of questions from the students. Marc has had a meteoric career in retail, with positions at Macy's, where he worked for 13 years, as Executive VP of Bob's Stores of Melville Corp., as Senior VP of Timberland Co., as President of Dress Furnishings of PVH Corp., and Group President of Heritage Brands at PVH.  PVH has name brands such as Calvin Klein, Bass, Tommy Hilfinger, and Van Heusen. He majored in Management and Finance at the Isenberg School.

He emphasized that the most important resource in a company is the individual and one needs to be able to maximize the team since so much in an organization depends on teamwork. He also noted how important it is to be nice but, ideally, both nice and talented. He joined Macy's because of its training program, which included rotations in management, finance, logistics, etc., and he wanted a company that would invest in him. While there, he even did college recruiting and traveled the country with alums of various universities.

He told the class to be flexible and noted that success is not a vertical path and sometimes you have to turn around on the highway or take a different route as he did today when encountering traffic on I91. While at Macy's, he hired someone who later became the President of Gap and someone who became the President of Coach. Clearly, Mr. Schneider knows how to identify talented individuals! He became VP at Macy's at age 26 and headed a private label there at age 28.

During 10 years at Timberland he would fly to Europe 15 times per year. The main offices were in NH, NYC, and London. The company was a leader in CSR (corporate social responsibility) and that is something that Marc is now leading as CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions.

His travel has continued and he has been to Asia 60 times and is off to China again on Sunday.

We very much appreciated his frankness with us. He mentioned that, at the beginning of his career, his dream was to be a CEO and now he wants to be happy. This change has resulted also in a change in his demeanor he said.

He is very proud that in 35 years with leading retailers and brands, he has had only 1 direct report resign on him. He was clearly pained when he noted the firing of an executive who had been causing many problems because of his behavior.

Another piece of advice to the students was to make the team really comfortable and challenged and to encourage them.

He also emphasized the critical attribute of curiosity and, once, you lose that, you are done - I could not agree more.

He is a huge fan of strategic planning and it was nice to see him mention a former faculty member, long-retired, Professor George Odiorne, who Marc said was a true mentor him. Odiorne was renowned for all his work and books on Management by Objectives. Marc emphasized that you need to know where you want to be down the road, know where you are now, and then figure out the route to get there. I just loved all the transportation analogies!

Something else that he said, which also very much resonated with me, is that too much change may be unhealthy for a company. Indeed, a new leader may come in and, without knowing all the people and why they were hired and the work that they have done, may decide to reorganize, etc. History is important and so is the history of a company or any organization including a business school or university.

Marc Schnedier emphasized that he always expected the "A" game from everyone. Timeliness is very important and he expects everyone in a meeting "to play," so always come prepared, have the facts, and have the highest standards for your work. He also reminded students of the importance of saying "Thank you!" and, if need be, to apologize and to be sincere about it. A student asked about his interviews when he was on the job market as a student and he told of his experience at United Technologies and the lessons learned from that interview. he had not been sufficiently prepared and though that they made planes and not engines.

It was very interesting for the students to hear about the specializing of production in different countries and he did say that about 95% of the products at his company are produced in Asia; the rest in Europe (Italy and even Portugal). Certain countries have refined the skill of producing particular products. He highlighted Vietnam and shoe production, for example, and, of course, noted design and Italy. He emphasized the impact of finance on supply chains and sourcing and although the strength of the US dollar is great for American tourists abroad, it is not so good for retailers in the US who need purchases by those in other countries. Furthermore, the US is a less attractive place for shopping for tourists now because of the strength of the dollar.

He answered students' questions on organizational change, on whether one should take the easier or more challenging tasks, even whether one should pursue an MBA? He spoke highly of education and its importance. I also very much appreciated that he talked about the meaning of CSR from human rights to community service and the environment. He stated that CSR is good business and good behavior.  He mentioned that even modes of transportation might be selected based on minimizing the environmental impact - yes! I have done work with collaborators on fashion supply chains, including sustainability aspects, and this is what we also see in our research studies:
Fashion Supply Chain Network Competition with Ecolabelling, Anna Nagurney, Min Yu, and Jonas Floden, in Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management: From Sourcing to Retailing, T.-M. Choi and T.C.E. Cheng, Editors, Springer (2015) pp 61-84.

In the discussions, he also emphasized how bright the millennial generation is and I agree.. That it is why it is such a pleasure to be their Professor!

Many, many thanks for Mr. Marc Schneider for coming to the Isenberg School today! A student after class told him and me that this was the best guest lecture that he has ever been to while a student at UMass Amherst. Now, that makes a Professor's Day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Serving on Habilitation Dissertation (Higher than a PhD) Committee in France

Academics are always open to new experiences.  New experiences are interesting and valuable and help you to grow.

Today, I had the pleasure of taking part in a dissertation defense since I am on a habilitation dissertation committee of Dr. Patrick Maille.  Dr. Maille is an Associate Professor at Telecom Bretagne (part of Institut Mines-Telecom) in France and last year was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California Berkeley, working with Dr. Jean Walrand, whose work I am very much a fan of.

I agreed to be on Patrick's committee after I received an invitation from him last March since Patrick's work is very complementary to our NSF project research, both to our most recent ChoiceNet project and our new EAGER project.

Moreover, he is the co-author, with Dr. Bruno Tuffin, of the book: Telecommunication Network Economics,  published by Cambridge University Press, which I have read and reread.
I like it that in the book he cites my Supply Chain Network Economics book since I consistently see (and he does, as well) many behavioral similarities associated with decision-makers in the Internet space and in supply chains.

A habilitation is even "higher" than a PhD. According to Wikipedia, a  habilitation is "the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in many countries in Europe, Central Asia, Egypt and the Caucasus." And it is usually earned after attaining a research doctorate.

This was a new experience for me since, although I have chaired 18 doctoral dissertations, and have served on committees as an external examiner for dissertations in Canada, Norway, and Sweden, this was my first habilitation experience.

In addition to reading the habilitation dissertation, I read quite a few papers of Dr. Maille's, and examined his professional dossier of accomplishments. I also had to complete a report on his publications provided to me one month before the defense date, which was today.

I was invited to the defense in Rennes, France, but, given all of my travel commitments this month, which I blogged about in a previous post, I asked whether I could teleconference in. Tough to turn down a trip to France during this beautiful time of year especially since another member of the committee, Dr. Eitan Altman, had been my host in Paris at the NetGCoop conference  4 years ago when I gave a keynote talk on supply chains. But, as I have written on this blog, this October is an extremely busy month for me.

Dr. Maille had received permission from his university to have me teleconference in for the defense. Yesterday, we checked out the technology, a new software I had never used before,  and Skype. The new software worked yesterday but not this morning, so good old reliable Skype was used and it worked great! I had been sent the presentation slides this morning. Last year, I Skyped in for Niklas Arvidsson's doctoral dissertation defense at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Niklas  received an international dissertation prize a few months ago for his thesis, which is terrific.

The habilitation this morning, for me, and the afternoon for my French colleagues, began with an introduction of the committee, followed by about a 45 minute presentation by the candidate. Then it was time for comments from the committee members, and questions from the committee, followed by more discussions. Overall, the defense took about 2 hours and then the committee members in France (with me, in the meantime, getting a virtual tour of the premises)  ambled with the computer with Skype to another room where we together prepared a report in French.  I am fluent in several languages but French is not one of them so this part was quite interesting. Luckily, some of my comments after Dr. Maille's presentation had been typed up so there was some translating and enhancing done and the report was completed. It was a very enjoyable part of a very pleasant habilitation experience!

The candidate successfully passed his habilitation so a BIG congratulations to Dr. Patrick Maille. He can now apply for a Full Professorship and can supervise doctoral students independently.

I toasted with a glass of champagne virtually!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

From Supply Chain Optimization Summit in Seattle to ACEC in Boston to Big Book Launch in Chicago - What an October!

The new academic year is in full swing and it is a very special time of the year in New England with the fall foliage in its full splendor.

This month of October is jam-packed with so many exciting events that I am taking part in and am very much looking forward to.

Tomorrow (I turned down a trip to France), I will be teleconferencing in for a habilitation defense in France. I am on the candidate's habilitation committee, which required the reading of a professional dissertation, his book, and several papers of his. A habilitation is even higher than a PhD and several countries expect this achievement before one can supervise doctoral students and proceed higher on the academic ladder.

Thursday, the Isenberg School is hosting Marc Schneider, the CEO of the fashion house Kenneth Cole Productions. Marc is an Isenberg School alum and will be speaking to my Logistics and Transportation class. On Friday, my Operations and Management Department will be having its Advisory Board meeting and speed mentoring event. That afternoon I will also be taking part in a networking event organized by the Computational Social Science Institute (CSSI) at UMass Amherst that I am an affiliate of.

This weekend, I will be flying to Seattle, as an invited faculty participant of the First Amazon Supply Chain Optimization Summit. There will be about 30 faculty taking part in this 2-day summit from across the globe and we are even getting a tour of the fulfillment center, complete with Kiva robots.  The list of invited participants contains many well-known INFORMS members so it will be a nice small-scale reunion before our INFORMS conference in Philly at the end of the month.

Upon my return, I will teach my Logistics and Transportation class and then will be heading to Boston for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) conference.  I am an invited speaker and will give the presentation, "The Application of Supernetworks to Critical Infrastructure from Transportation to Electric Power." This conference overlaps, in part, with the Head of the Charles regatta, for all the rowing fans out there!  Since my college room-mate at Brown University  was on the women's crew team and now my daughter is President of her college crew  and also the cox for two men's boats, I will have to check out the regatta. (And there is a chance that my daughter may be coxing an alum boat from her college).

The following week, I am flying to Chicago, where I have the great pleasure and honor of being one of three panelists at the big book launch of the Boyce and Williams book, which is a scholarly masterpiece: "Forecasting Urban Travel," published by Edward Elgar. This will be a truly celebratory event.
And the week afterwards,  colleagues, students, and I will be off to the INFORMS conference in Philadelphia.

Never a dull moment or day in academia!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fabulous Faculty Convocation @UMassAmherst and Lunch Afterwards

It was a cool and rather gray morning today but the 2015 Faculty Convocation was great!

This has become an annual Fall ritual started back in 2005 by our former Chancellor John Lombardi.

At the convocation a group of faculty are recognized with the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity.  This year 6 faculty were recognized including our Isenberg School of Management Sports Management colleague, Dr. Janet Fink.  Dr. Fink is the third recipient from the Isenberg School of this award. I received the award the first year that it was given - in 2005, and my Finance colleague, Dr. Bing Liang, received it in 2006.  Dr. Fink has done amazing work in having female athletes recognized for athleticism.

Below are some photos taken from the convocation beginning with the assembly and marching of the faculty.
Dr. Janet Fink
In the above photo, I'm  with Dr. Bruce Weinberg, chair of the Marketing Department, looking resplendent in his MIT cap and gown and in the below, he is with Professor John Bracey, Chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.

One of the highlights (for me) was seeing one o fthe UMass police officers on horseback welcoming us. The horse's name is Miller and he is a beauty!
The convocation had great music and singing, welcoming remarks from our Provost,, Dr. Katherine Newman, a speech by our Chancellor, Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, who emphasized the importance of investing in public education, especially UMass, and the giving out of the awards,.

The lunch afterwards at the Campus Center was magnificent - from sushi to hot soups to specially prepared pastas, meats, salads, and more. I photographed the desserts, which then disappeared - I was talking so much with colleagues from various departments at UMass. Luckily, I saw our award-winning Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises, Ken Toong, who leads UMass dining services (and our food is truly incredible). I told him that last year at the same event I had gotten no desserts. being the great person that he is, he had a female staff person go into another room and she emerged with delicious desserts. Thank you, Ken Toong!
I gobbled up the chocolate cookies quickly so no photo of them!

Congrats to all the award recipients and a very nice Faculty Convocation today!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Speaking on Supernetworks and Critical Infrastructure at ACEC Meeting in Boston

I received an email  message from Beth Larkin, who is a Vice President at the HNTB Corporation in Boston, last March. She is a Professional Engineer and is also a UMass Amherst engineering alumna. She is a colleague of Ted Zoli's, who is the Chief Engineer at HNTB and is a MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipient. Beth had reached out to him to get a recommendation as to who may be a good speaker on Big Data and transportation in the near future for the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) Boston Conference and he recommended me - what an honor.
ACEC is an organization that represents the business interests of  the engineering consulting industry.

Beth also wrote in her message to me that this industry is: An industry that desperately could benefit from hearing from women thought leaders.  Beth is an ACEC/MA Past President and part of a group of women who are trying to get more of the sessions to include women both as presenters / panelists and moderators.  

The topic that she was hoping that I could speak on was: “The Application of Supernetworks to Critical Infrastructure from Transportation to Electric Power Networks.” 

Such an invitation was impossible to refuse and I am delighted to be speaking at the ACEC Fall conference, which takes place in beautiful Boston, October 14-17, 2015.

I will be speaking on Friday afternoon, October 16, 2015, in an Educational Session.   

My presentation is ready and it had to be emailed to ACEC in early September since copies will be distributed to the audience. The expected attendance is 800 people with not all going to each session, of course. It is great to be representing the Isenberg School of Management and UMass Amherst in this way.

The conference brochure is here. 

The keynote speakers are: Doris Kearns Goodwin, who will speak on "Leadership Lessons from the White House," and Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of the Titanic. 

Looking forward to a fabulous conference and so glad to have an opportunity to speak on our supernetwork and critical infrastructure research. 

An added bonus is that the Fragile Networks book that I wrote with Dr. Qiang will also be displayedat the conference.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thanks to Dr. Janet Yellen, the Most Powerful Figure in World Finance, for Speaking at UMass Amherst

Those of us who are in academia get to meet and interact with leaders on the world stage.

This can happen through our work, through serendipity, because we tend to travel a lot, and also through various speaking venues.

This past Thursday, UMass Amherst was host to Dr. Janet Yellen, the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system. She has been called the most powerful figure in world finance and she spoke to an audience of almost 2,000 in the UMass Fine Arts Center, beginning shortly after 5PM. She only gives a few public speeches a year, so this speech was eagerly anticipated,  and her lecture was the Philip Gamble Memorial lecture. 


The Gamble lecture series has brought renowned economists to UMass Amherst. Last year the speaker was Thomas Piketty, whom I blogged about, and, in 2011, it was the Nobel laureate, Elinor Ostrom, the first female Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences. She died of cancer in 2012. And, in 2012, Professor George Akerlof, also a Nobel laureate, who is  Yellen's husband, delivered the Gamble lecture.  His first paper on information asymmetry, which has inspired several of my papers on supply chains and information asymmetry, which I wrote with Dong "Michelle" Li, was rejected 3 times before it was finally accepted for publication in a journal and for this work he received the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences! Our first publication on the topic was: Equilibria and Dynamics of Supply Chain Network Competition with Information Asymmetry in Quality and Minimum Quality Standards, Anna Nagurney and Dong Li, Computational Management Science 11(3): (2014) pp 285-315.

Back in 2002, the Nobel laureate, John F. Nash, delivered the Gamble lecture. I have cited his work in probably close to 100 papers that I have written. He passed away last May in a car crash in which his wife also died, having just returned from Norway, where he was awarded the Abel prize from the king.

I had the pleasure of sitting during Yellen's lecture next to my great Finance colleague, Professor Ben Branch, and to my husband. Ben had heard Yellen speak a few years back at the Financial Management Association meeting so he gave me an excellent preview of what to expect. She would read from a script and there would be no questions. Professor Michael Ash, the chair of our Economics Department, introduced Yellen and emphasized that she was the first female head in the Federal Reserve system's history.

Since her words have so much clout and can literally move markets, her speeches have to be very precise and carefully constructed. Her speech was on Inflation Dynamics and Monetary Policy.. In her speech she emphasized the dual goals of full employment and keeping the inflation rate at 2%. She presented numerous graphs and discussed inflation also from a historical perspective dating to the 1960s. She noted highlights from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). About 50 minutes into her speech, she made what Professor Ben Branch said to me was the newsworthy announcement and that many were awaiting - that the interest rate will be gradually increased. This statement made national and  international news including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Shortly, thereafter, she went silent and the audience was completely still, in suspense. She coughed a bit, found her place again, went silent again, and stated that she would end now.  Needless to say, we were all very anxious and concerned and as we exited with several students and faculty form the Isenberg School I wondered whether she had been thirsty. I did not see her take a break to drink some water or to catch her breath during about 50 minutes of continuous speaking.

We also saw an ambulance stop at the Fine Arts Center. She had been dehydrated and once EMTs treated her,  given her impact, this also made news. She recovered and then enjoyed dinner with our Chancellor, Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, and special guests.

Dr. Yellen received her undergraduate degree at my alma mater, Brown University.  It is pretty cool that we are both on the same Wikipedia page as notable Brown University alumni.  I am under "Academia" and she is under "Advisors."

I hope that all is well with her and that the Federal Research system, the US, and the world, can still count on her leadership and monetary policy wisdom.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Celebrating Student Achievements - A First Prize Award

The best part about being a faculty member is working with students.

And with the beautiful month of September and the beginning of the new academic year, there is a renewed energy on campus.

Faculty who work closely with students are also happiest when their students achieve and such achievements should be celebrated.

This past week has been filled with wonderful news concerning students.

For example, yesterday evening, my doctoral student in Management Science, Shivani Shukla, who had traveled by public transportation - quite the challenge in itself  - to our sister campus, UMass Lowell, to take part in the Air Force Association (AFA) Cyber Workshop  shared with me some wonderful news. The poster that she had presented, "Game Theoretic Model for Cybersecurity Investments with Nonlinear Budget Constraints," was awarded the first prize in the poster category!

Part of Shivani's poster presentation was based on the paper: A Supply Chain Game Theory Framework for Cybersecurity Investments Under Network Vulnerability, Anna Nagurney, Ladimer S. Nagurney, and Shivani Shukla, which was just published last week in Computation, Cryptography, and Network Security, N.J. Daras and M.T. Rassias, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2015) pp 381-398. A nice writeup is here.

Below is a photo of Shivani with Bruce Baikis from MITRE and Joe Carriere from L3 Communications, who gave her the award. MITRE is also the home base of one of my absolutely favorite INFORMS colleagues, Dr. Les Servi (who is also a fellow Brown U. alum).

The prize consisted of a check plus an Air Force medal, which is considered a badge of honor.
The first prize in the paper category went to Patrick Dynoff, who is a high school student, and has been working with faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School. So impressive!

Congrats to all the entrants in the AFA Challenge!

Clearly, the way forward with cybersecurity is through research and education, which must include great students!  At the Isenberg School of Management and at UMass Amherst our students are fabulous and a delight to work with.