Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The INFORMS Speakers Program and Social and Professional Networking

Wow -- now that was a great talk! I have heard such a comment after numerous speaker presentations organized through our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Many, from faculty to students to practitioners, over the years, have commented that these talks, which we schedule on Fridays, with lunch and further discussions to follow, were the highlights of their week.

In organizing a semester's worth of talks, we looked for speakers who could inform and educate a wide audience on timely topics of interest to the operations research / management science community.

We also availed ourselves of the INFORMS Speakers Program and I personally have greatly enjoyed being a speaker in this program, and have given talks in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and other locations, as a result of it. I especially enjoyed the mix of the audience participants from various industries and universities and the wonderful questions and hospitality of the INFORMS Regional and Student Chapters that have been my hosts. My professional and social networks have also grown from participation in this valuable program.

This year I have the pleasure of chairing the INFORMS Speakers Program Committee, with committee members: Dr. Tim Lowe of the University of Iowa and Dr. Les Servi of MITRE. We are working on enhancing this program by adding new speakers and expanding the program geographically and making it more diverse. We also hope to include more video resources and to enable speakers to edit their profiles.

Do stay tuned as we expand this valuable and exciting resource. The next issue of OR/MS Today coming out in August will include a profile of the INFORMS Speakers Program and some of the advantages of using a speaker through the program.

As for tips on how to run a successful speakers series, read more here.

I leave you with some photos above of several distinguished speakers who have graced our Speaker Series at UMass Amherst who are part of the INFORMS Speakers Program. I am sure that you can recognize them but, just to make sure, the above photos are of the visits of Professor Richard Larson of MIT, of Professor John Birge of the University of Chicago, and of Professor Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign.

Thanks to all the speakers in our profession who take the time out of their very busy schedules to come and speak on our campuses and at other sites -- from corporations and beyond!