Friday, October 18, 2013

Great Talks at the Isenberg School of Management

Great speakers provoke and inspire and we can learn so much from them. Students, faculty, staff, and guests from the community benefit immensely from invited speakers plus there is nothing like face to face time in which to exchange stories, share laughter, and, perhaps, even start new friendships.

This week has been an especially busy one at the Isenberg School of Management with many departments hosting speakers including two speakers that were hosted by my department -- Operations & Information Management. The poster above was prepared by the Isenberg School Communications office for a talk that took place last evening and was organized by the Management Department. Dr. Anita M. McGahan of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto spoke on "The Business of Creating Social Value."  She is the President of the Academy of Management, which has 18,000 members. The President of INFORMS, which now has 11,000 members, is also a female, Dr. Anne Robinson of Verizon. Great to see such wonderful leadership at the top of such professional societies!

Dr. McGahan's talk took place at the Integrated Sciences new building and the takeaways were:

1. Work on important problems (think of what you want to leave behind).

2. Create social value through your work.

3. We need new business models -- I liked hearing about innovating in reverse -- rather than having more complicated neonatal incubators use the kangaroo approach (baby on the parent).

4. We should care not just about shareholder value but about sustainable outcomes (rather than organizations).

She spoke about meeting Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health, on a shuttle flight from DC to Boston and also about various new industries and products from wind energy to the Tata Nano car. She is very dynamic and interacted very well with the audience -- I estimated over 400 in attendance, including many undergrads including many students.

Dr. Detmar Straub, A Regent's Professor of the University System of Georgia and the J. Mack Robinson Distinguished Professor of Information Systems at Georgia State University, spoke this afternoon as part of the Dean's Lecture series. His talk was on "Why Top Journals Accept Your Paper." He completed two terms as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal MIS Quarterly. I had the pleasure of joining several of my IS faculty colleagues and one of our doctoral students for lunch with Dr. Straub at the University Club, which is in a building dating to 1728. The food was very good and the conversation fabulous  -- we laughed over so many great stories -- I especially enjoyed his reminiscences about various conferences.

 Dr. Robert Shumsky of Dartmouth was our previous speaker in the Dean's Lecture series. He is well-known in INFORMS and OM circles.

Also, today, the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter had the pleasure of hosting Professor Michael C. Fu of the Snith School at the University of Maryland College Park. He has degrees from MIT and a PhD from Harvard and he was fabulous. His talk began at 2:00 at the Isenberg School and we ended our conversations at 4:00PM. His talk focused on stochastic methodologies with applications ranging from financial engineering to supply chains. Specifically, he spoke on  stochastic gradient estimation techniques, which are methodologies for deriving computationally efficient estimators used in simulation optimization and sensitivity analysis of complex stochastic systems that require simulation to estimate their performance. His presentation was so clear and I loved such phrases as the "mathematically disadvantaged" and "statistically unconscious."

The photo below I took (apologies that it was not my best) after Professor Fu's presentation. My colleague from engineering, Professor Weibo Gong, also a Harvard PhD and a former doctoral student of Professor Ho's, helped in the hosting.
On November 1, we will be hosting, through the efforts of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, Dr. Les Servi of Mitre, who, coincidentally, had the same PhD advisor at Harvard, Dr. Ho, as did Dr. Fu and Dr. Gong. I have known Les since we overlapped at Brown University. Both Les and Michael are INFORMS Fellows and outstanding scholars. Dr. Servi will be speaking on social media and sports, with a focus on his work in soccer -- it should be a fascinating talk, Last time that he spoke in our series, his topic was on pirates off the coast of Africa! And he gets paid to work on such interesting projects.