Saturday, August 24, 2013

Strength Through Professional Society Communities and Continuing Education

Everyone wants to and needs to be part of something bigger and to feel productive and be a recognized as a valuable contributor to an important organization.

When you wake up each morning, is it with a smile on your face and excitement, energy, and enthusiasm for the day and your projects? 

We are part of communities -- from the colleges and universities that we, as academics, teach and conduct research at to the companies that the practitioners and leaders in our profession in industries as varied as healthcare to transportation and logistics to financial services and high tech and consulting (to name just a few) contribute significantly to.

We are also, many of us, members of professional societies, which provide us with essential communities and from which we gain strength in so many ways.

With possible challenges in our immediate academic and corporate organizations due to continuing change, economic pressures, fluctuating perspectives in terms of  administration, and even our own values and dreams, professional societies can provide sustenance and support for our entire professional lives.

In addition to the camaraderie and networking opportunities, professional societies provide avenues for continuing education and personal and professional growth.

INFORMS, as the leading association for professional in analytics, operations research and management science, for example, has a plethora of communities that one can be part of, at different stages of one's careers:

From student chapters at various universities:

     End of the semester party of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter

to INFORMS regional chapters:

Trip with some of my students to the INFORMS Boston Chapter Meeting, Burlington, MA, November 23, 2010 - Link to my presentation

to societies within INFORMS:

Transportation & Logistics Society of INFORMS -- several Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award recipients

to fora, such as WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences):
Various WORMS activities at the Annual INFORMS Meetings

one receives continuing education in many forms -- information and knowledge from conversations with colleagues and from lectures and talks with additional resources provided by INFORMS such as podcasts and now even INFORMS TV!

And, of course, we gain and learn so much through the wonderful conferences:

from regional ones:
2011 Northeast INFORMS Regional Conference
UMass Amherst, May 6-7, 2011

to the annual national ones, which serve as reunions for many of us, as well as international ones, which take us to exotic locales:

ALIO-INFORMS Joint International Meeting
Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 2010

Moreover, through INFORMS membership, one can find out about new jobs and opportunities -- terrific for students and for those seeking greener pastures or just new challenges.

Finally, with INFORMS' new CAP (Certified Analytics Professional) program you can gain valuable new credentialing. And, one of the first to take the CAP exam, Dr. Irv Lustig of IBM, explains the benefits of this exam in his interview with Barry List, the Communications Director of INFORMS in the video below.

Irv, by the way, was an undergraduate at Brown University, when I was a PhD student there, and I was his TA for Professor Stella Dafermos' OR course (she was my advisor). Needless to say, Irv was very smart and went on to Stanford to get his PhD in OR with Professor George Dantzig, as his advisor.

And, in closure, I emphasize that learning and gaining strength from our professional society communities can also be a lot of fun!