SmartOps: from Foundation to Acquisition

The “speaker series” is one of our oldest, yet most well-received event series. Martin Barkman, the Vice President in SAP’s Extended Supply Chain Management Organization, was our second invited speaker this year.

In his current position, Martin works closely with customers to elevate supply chain capabilities in the area of sales, inventory, and operations planning, demand management, and demand networks. Prior to SAP, he was the CEO of SmartOps Corporation, which SAP acquired in April, 2013. SmartOps, founded by Prof. Sridhar Tayur was a leading supply chain software company in inventory optimization and demand sensing solutions. Prior to SmartOps, Martin developed a broad supply chain technology and management experience through roles ranging from consulting at McKinsey & Company to product supply and manufacturing management at Procter & Gamble.

To an audience of more than 40 PhD and MBA students, Martin Barkman talked about his experience as the former CEO of SmartOps. He explained how they competed against the existing big software companies like IBM, and managed to achieve the highest market share in their own division. He also shared with us why, after more than 10 years of running the company, they decided to sell their software to SAP, and be a part of a more comprehensive software package that SAP offers.

After Martin finished his talk, the attendees had the opportunity to ask their questions. This Q&A session lasted for several minutes, and so many great points, including how they first came up with the idea of creating such a software, the way they handled hiring/firing their employees, etc., were brought up.



Women in Academia

In October 2017, during Prof. Margaret Brandeau’s visit, we had an informal tea gathering to discuss the obstacles/inequalities that a woman might face in her academic life, and how to handle such problems. Several faculty members from Tepper and computer science department of CMU and industrial engineering department of University of Pittsburgh participated. Male and female students from all over CMU campus as well as IE department of University of Pittsburgh showed up as well.

Each of the participating female faculty members talked about her experience as a woman during different stages of her academic life, from PhD to the current academic position. They talked about how women should lean in, express themselves, and speak out if they have been mistreated.

In this discussion, Prof. Tayur talked about how he tries to empower women by teaching case studies of companies that have women as their founder or CEO. He also mentioned if we want men to help stop discrimination towards women, it is necessary to inform them about such discriminations.

Students also participated by asking questions and sharing their own experiences. The discussion was very broad and students mentioned a variety of problems that they are dealing with, and many of these issues need to receive more attention. The INFORMS student chapter at CMU is planning to organize more women oriented events, and to do so we have reached out to several people at graduate education center of CMU to organize our next event.

This event was organized under direct supervision of our faculty adviser, Prof. Kilinc-Karzan.


YinzOR Student Conference

The INFORMS student chapter at Carnegie Mellon held the first YinzOR Student Conference on August 26th to 27th. The name of the conference combines the acronym for Operations Research with “Yinzer”, which means a native or inhabitant of the city of Pittsburgh. The goal of the conference was to put together PhD students from a variety of programs related to OR, such as Computer Science, Math, Operations Management, and Operations Research at Carnegie Mellon as well as Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The conference program mixed talks from those departments with keynotes by successful young researchers from academia and industry, who presented their work on disjunctive programming for clustering, online data-driven algorithms for healthcare, and AI beating professional poker players. Besides bridging the gap among students in different departments, the conference also served to welcome the new cohort of PhD students.


Funding and resources for YinzOR were provided by the CMU Activities Fee and the Tepper School of Business.