Category Archives: Operations Management

Book Review – The Professor Is In

The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job
by Karen Kelsky, 2015

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who plans to be on the academic job market in the next 3-5 years. You’ll want to read it early in your academic career to understand the difference between “good lines” on your CV and less valuable ones. You’ll want to re-visit it before applying to understand how to craft excellent job documents and how to prep for interviews.

This book is well-written and very practical. It is from the perspective of a former department chair who now runs her own consulting business to fill in the information gap between what tenured academics know and what grad students don’t.

I would offer one warning to students in business fields: the book is written from the perspective of humanities majors. In those fields, you are often expected to be publishing books and your prospects for academic employment are terrible. Books are not valued in business fields like A-journal publications are. With that in mind, however, the book is still very useful. I will be sharing it with fellow IU Ph.D. students.

Heading to the University of Cincinnati This Fall

After an exhausting job search, I’m happy to announce that I will be heading to the University of Cincinnati this fall, after accepting a job as Assistant Professor in the Operations, Business Analytics, and Information Systems (OBAIS) Department of the Lindner College of Business.

UC has a great department, with strong researchers and incredible people. I look forward to contributing my research in energy operations management and behavioral operations to their research portfolio, as well as teaching classes in simulation, sports analytics, service operations, and other topics in operations management and business analytics. A new building for the business school is under construction, set to open in Fall 2019.

It’s been a busy 4+ months. My main interview conference (INFORMS) was in October this year, pushing up the job search cycle a bit. I had flyouts in November, December, and January, and chose between offers over the last couple weeks.

Here is a summary of my job search process:
-I applied to 76 schools. In retrospect, I should have been a bit more selective, but applying is free and relatively quick.
-I received 28 first-round interview invitations, one of which I did not accept due to it being too late in the process. 18 of the interviews were in-person and held at INFORMS. The rest were either by phone or Skype.
-From those 27 accepted interviews, I was invited to 8 campus fly-outs. 1 occurred in November, 3 were in December, and 4 were scheduled for January. I had to cancel the last fly-out, due to receiving attractive offers and the visit occurring too late.
-From those 7 campus visits, I received 3 job offers.
-Today, I accepted UC’s offer.

It was great to meet so many members of my field during the search process. And thanks so much to my family, friends, and co-workers who helped guide and advise me during the process.

Book Review – Lights Out

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
by Ted Koppel, 2015

The first thing that interested me about the electric grid was the question of its resiliency and protecting it from attack. While my academic research has mostly focused on economic questions, the topic of resiliency is still interesting to me. Koppel’s book discusses the possibility of losing control of the electric grid due to a cyberattack and urban areas having to cope with a loss of power for weeks or months.

Generally speaking, the US seems unprepared for a cyberattack. Assuming the government was not protecting a classified plan, they did not have a plan to share with Koppel for how to deal with a prolonged grid outage. It is unlikely that the government will provide food, water, and basic supplies if an outage exceeds a few days. The alarming part is how unprepared for this outcome most city dwellers seem to be.

About half of the book discusses the disaster preparation plans of more prepared people. While this was, by itself, interesting, it was a little far from discussing the resiliency of the grid. I would have preferred this section to be shorter. Few, if any, of the preppers were focused on an extended grid outage.

It is interesting (ironic?) that we are more connected than ever due to the internet, but in the event of an electric outage, we will be less connected than ever. There needs to be operational plans in place for how to handle an extended outage, and these plans should be communicated BEFORE the outage, as there will be little ability to communicate them after the outage. Seems like a good outlet for operations management and risk management.

I listened to this book on tape.

My INFORMS 2017 Presentations

Sunday, 8:00-9:30am, SA37, Linking Delay Announcements, Abandonment, and Staffing: A Behavioral Perspective, Room 352B

Monday, 8:00-9:30am, MA04, Mind The Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response, Room 320A

Tuesday, 4:35-6:05pm, TE04, Utility Ownership of Decentralized Combined Heat and Power, Room 320A

The two energy papers of my dissertation were invited. The call center paper was scheduled for presentation with the other finalists in the in the Service Section Best Student Paper Competition.

Real News 20170913

MIT to offer economics+computer science degree. Good for all sorts of online marketplaces that match buyers and sellers.

Owners of the Tesla 60kWh version of its Model S and Model X actually have the same battery as the 75kWh vehicles but the battery has been purposely limited or “damaged” to provide only 60KWh of mileage. Is is really less expensive for Tesla to build more expensive batteries for all cars (including the lesser version) than to create and keep two inventories of car batteries? Probably.

Book Review – The New Product Bet (Pre-Release?)

The New Product Bet
by Nils Rudi and Serguei Netessine

This book is a multimedia approach to teaching how to choose order quantities for new, high margin products with long leadtimes. The book is supposed to accompany an app that has videos and other multimedia to reinforce the lessons. My review is only about the book part of the package. The writeup and accompanying illustrations of the newsvendor problem, along with suggested efforts to gather demand information and/or shorten leadtimes, were very good. It would be a great introduction to the topic for a new student or product manager. The length (about 140 pages with lots of illustrations, maybe the equivalent of 50 pages of normal text) was also short enough to be easily digested by its target audience.

I am not sure what stage this book is in. Serguei brought a bunch of unfinished versions to one of his presentations at INFORMS 2016 and left them for the audience. There are still some passages/charts unfinished in my version, and I did not have a password to try out the multimedia sections of the book. In googling, the book does not seem to be for sale yet, and the picture above is my own. I hope it gets published soon.

Talks I Attended at MSOM 2017

Documented mostly for my future reference.

-Peak Load Energy Management by Direct Load Control Contracts, by Ali Fattahi, Sriram Dasu, Reza Ahmadi
-Is electricity storage green? A study on the commercial sector, by Yangfang Zhou (Helen)
-Promotion Planning of Network Goods, by Saed Alizamir, Ningyuan Chen, Vahideh Manshadi

-Seeking to Belong, by Bradley Staats, Paul Green, Francesca Gino
-Familiarity in Creative Teams: The Effect of Task Nature, by Murat Unal, Karthik Ramachandran, Necati Tereyagoglu
-Designing Sustainable Products under Co-Production Technology, by Yen-Ting Lin, Shouqiang Wang, Haoying Sun

-That’s Not Fair – Tariff Structures for Electricity Markets with Rooftop Solar, by Siddharth Prakash Singh, Alan Scheller-Wolf
-Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response, by Eric Webb, Owen Wu, Kyle Cattani
-Using Transparency to Manage the Sourcing of Complex Non-routine Litigation, by Jacob Chestnut, Damian Bell

-Environmentally Friendly Contract in a Supply Chain: Stimulating Supplier’s Environmental Innovation for a Manufacturer under Emission Tax, by Kun Soo Park
-Multi-agent Mechanism Design without Money, by Santiago Balseiro, Huseyin Gurkan, Peng Sun
-Payment for Results: Funding Non-Profit Operations, by Sripad Devalkar, Milind Sohoni, Neha Sharma

-Designing Incentives for Startup Teams: Form and timing of Equity Contracting, by Evgeny Kagan, Stephen Leider, William Lovejoy
-Integrating Managerial Insight and Optimal Algorithms, by Blair Flicker, Elena Katok
-Modeling Newsvendor Behavior: A Prospect Theory Approach, by Bhavani Shanker Uppari, Sameer Hasija

-Last Place Aversion in Queue, by Ryan Buell, Michael Norton, Jay Chakraborty
-Learning Preferences and User Engagement Using Choice and Time Data, by Tauhid Zaman, Zhengli Wang
-Relative Performance Transparency: Effects on Sustainable Purchase and Consumption Behavior, by Ryan Buell, Shwetha Mariadassou, Yanchong Zheng

Finalist for POMS College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper

Kyle Cattani, one of my co-authors, was left off the original announcement. I have added him below.

Announcement sent out via Tim Kraft and Yannis Bellos:

On behalf of the awards committee, we are pleased to congratulate the finalist for the 2017 POMS College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper Competition. The finalist in alphabetical order are:

Karthik Balasubramanian (Harvard Business School)
Inventory Models for Mobile Money Agents in the Developing World
Co-author: David Drake

Eric Webb (Indiana University)
Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response
Coauthor: Owen Wu, Kyle Cattani

Can Zhang (Georgia Tech)
Truth-inducing Mechanisms for Medical Surplus Product Allocation
Coauthors: Atalay Atasu, Turgay Ayer, Beril Toktay

The winning paper will be announced during the College of Sustainable Operations business meeting on Saturday, May 6th at this year’s POMS Annual Conference in Seattle. Thank you to all those who submitted. We had a record number of entries this year with 24 submissions, all of which were of high quality.