Thursday, May 14, 2009

Students and Leadership

Yesterday we had our end of the semester UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter party. At the party we recognized the chapter officers as well as the staff, faculty, and administrators who have provided outstanding support of the chapter and its activities. The party took place in the Isenberg School of Management and the food that the students and faculty prepared and bought was fantastic. We had Turkish, Chinese, Ukrainian, Iranian, and American delights and I ate food specialties that I had never eaten before, which included a vegetable and nut dish that was simply delicious. At the party, the Student Chapter officers were recognized for their outstanding leadership and contributions to the chapter's activities this year (which include the Speaker Series in Operations Research / Management Science and social and community-building events). Chapter officers are a mini United Nations and come from China, Thailand, Iran, and a Native American! It has been a very special year and during the ceremony we also recognized three chapter officers and members with lifetime honorary memberships who will be receiving their doctorates soon and will be moving on.

We have diversity in the officers as well as in the members of this student chapter. Members include not only graduate students but also undergraduate students and come not only from the Isenberg School of Management but also from the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst, from the Economics Department, and from other departments. This past year the chapter was recognized at the INFORMS National Meeting in Washington DC with the magna cum laude award for its activities.

Leadership comes in many forms and the esprit de corps that the officers exhibit is fantastic as is their work ethic. They show up to events, write thank you cards to our distinguished speakers, organize events, and support one another in numerous ways. By assuming officer positions they obtain genuine and valuable skills that help them not only when they are on the job market but even after they assume their new positions as faculty members or leaders in industry.

This week, which was the last week of classes at UMass Amherst, we helped to host at the Supernetworks Center an apparel executive from Madison Avenue in NYC, who is a UMass Amherst School of Management alumnus. He met with a group of our students and me and shared with us his personal experiences and wisdom on leadership and success in industry. The conversations exchanged and his energy and enthusiasm were some of the highlights of another very busy but rewarding week. His advice: work incredibly hard, accentuate always the positive, and surround yourselves with bright, knowledgeable, positive individuals.