Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fabulous Logistics Conference in Bogota, Colombia - over 8,000 Feet Above Sea Level

I returned last night from Bogota, Colombia where I had very memorable experiences.

I was in South America to give a plenary talk at the 2nd Industry and Organizations Congress - Logistics, Innovation and Technological Development. I was invited by the PhD program in Industry and Organizations Engineering of the National University of Colombia. The Department of Indiustrial Engineering also served as a host since it was celebrating its 15th anniversary.
 Bogota is at an elevation of about 8,300 feet and is situated on what was a savannah with the stunning Andes mountains in the background. The climate is perfect - about 65 degrees Fahrenheit all year round during the day time.

The city now has over 8 million residents so it was very interesting to see the traffic flow and the articulated busses in special bus lanes  as we were shuttled from the Radisson Airport Hotel, where the other plenary speakers and I were housed,  to the university. The hotel is actually 15 minutes from the airport and it is stunning and so comfortable. The first day, Gustavo, in the photo below with me, accompanied us on the shuttle. He is matriiculating this Fall in the  Master's degree program in Supply Chain Management that my former doctoral student at the Isenberg School, Professor Tina Wakolbinger co-directs at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.What a small academic world!

There was a very elegant opening session to the conference (congress)  with welcomes from academics and other dignitaries. The two announcers were also excellent.

It was a pleasure to see colleagues from RPI (Abhi Deshmukh), Purdue (Jose Holquin-Veras), and Montreal (Teo Crainic), and to make many new connections with researchers and practitioners, as well as delightful students,  from Colombia, Mexico, France, Chile, the US, and other countries.

There were about 500 in attendance and two rooms were used to seat the audience for the plenary talks, and the lectures were videostreamed. 

The program even had a musical interlude with the duo even singing a Ukrainian song (I found out that the guitarist's mother was Ukrainian). This certainly made me feel welcome since Ukrainian is my first language!

About 70% of the lectures were in Spanish so I had a mini Spanish refresher immersion course. I had lived in Mexico between high school and college so I understood a lot and can communicate in basic Spanish. I enjoyed my time in Bogota so much that I hope to have more opportunities to practice this beautiful language and to return to Colombia.

My lecture on Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities was translated simultaneously as were the others. The last time I had a plenary or keynote talk of mine translated was when I spoke in China and in Russia a few years back.

The discussions on sustainability and supply chains that I had afterwards with fellow conference attendees were stimulating and provocative on topics from life cycle assessment to sustainable fish supply chains and corporate social responsibility. We discussed freight consolidation, cooperation among stakeholders in supply chains, and, of course, freight deliveries at night among other "policies." I had many students and faculty come up to me afterwards to be photographed with me and I very much appreciated the warmth and hospitality.

I enjoyed all the lectures that I attended and below are a few photos of the plenary talks: My colleagues were brilliant and I hope that the presentations get posted by the conference organizers.

Once the conference was over on Thursday at noon I then met with a former Isenberg School of Management MBA student of mine who gave me a private tour of the city and historic district. This truly magical experience I will write about in a subsequent blogpost.

Below, I have posted additional photos from the conference, some scenes of Bogota and the university, as well as our scrumptious breakfasts at the Radisson with papaya, fresh pineapple, and even watermelon juice.

Colombia has had a very challenging history and security is fairly tight. For example, the guards and explosive sniffing dog (whose name I found out is "Mark"), were situated next to the gate in front of the Radisson.

Plus, on my flight yesterday from Bogota to Atlanta I sat next to a female executive who works at Cargill in Minneapolis,  and who has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Colombia, and an MBA. Our conversations on topics ranging from risk management to being a professional female, who travels a lot, were fascinating. My collection of business cards has grown.

Many, many thanks to our wonderful hosts at this Congress for their warmth, attention to detail, hospitality, and for putting together such an excellent scientific program! 

Hasta luego!