Vice President- International

Sue Merchant

Independent OR practitioner, Blue Link Consulting, UK

Vision Statement

I am honoured to be nominated again for INFORMS VP International Activities for 2020 and have found my first year in the role fascinating. It has been an action-packed 12 months thanks to the huge support I have received from INFORMS’ Chief Executive, Directors and fellow Board members. My first task was to set up a new International Activities Committee (IAC), and I was delighted to find enthusiastic INFORMS members from Canada, Guatemala, India, IFORS, Mexico, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey to join me and our excellent staff liaison Scharan Johnson (INFORMS Director of Membership and Communities). The committee met on multiple occasions during the year, and committee members spent some time identifying, discussing and prioritising ways in which INFORMS might support international members even better. This dialog, combined with perspectives from past board discussions and international member insights garnered from surveys, served as the foundation for the planning and execution of Mega Discussions by the Board at its meetings in August and November 2018. The Board further developed and prioritised a set of initiatives designed to make the membership offering more attractive to international members and non-members, keep the INFORMS O.R./Analytics community vibrant, and help spread the word about O.R./Analytics around the world. IAC members are now examining each initiative in greater detail for feasibility and likely impact. In July 2018 INFORMS kindly supported my attendance at the inaugural conference of AFROS (the Federation of African OR societies) in Tunis where I met many enthusiastic O.R. people and started to build a picture of the barriers to spreading O.R. more widely across Africa.

I look forward to working with the IAC and collaborating with fellow VPs over the course of the next year and beyond, to take forward these initiatives and explore other ways in which the committee might help INFORMS/the Board accomplish its strategic priorities. Our aim in particular is to support INFORMS’ strategic goal “O.R. and Analytics will advance society and make the world a better place.”

Biographical Profile


  • MSc OR and Statistics (part time) Brunel University (1977)
  • BSc Physics (hons degree) University College London (1970)

Professional Experience

  • Blue Link Consulting, 2003-present
  • Member of Jigsaw Consultants network, 2010-present
  • Metropolitan Police, London, 1975-2002 (from Senior Scientific Officer to Director of Consultancy and Information Services)
  • UK Ministry of Defence, Naval Operational Studies, 1970-1975 Higher Scientific Officer

Professional Activities

  • VP International Activities INFORMS, 2018-present
  • Chair of IFORS Developing Countries committee and non-voting member of IFORS Administrative Committee, 2016-current
  • External supervisor of MSc students’ summer industrial projects for the London School of Economics since 2003
  • Vice President at large of IFORS, including chair of Developing Countries committee, 2013-2015
  • President UK OR Society, 2008-2009
  • Vice President UK OR Society, 2005-2007

Other Activities

  • Member of INFORMS and the ORS
  • Co-editor of the Impact column in IFORS quarterly newsletter, scanning INFORMS, other OR/Analytics publications and conference material, etc., to help disseminate information about excellent implemented work internationally (current)
  • Secretary of the Criminal Justice special interest group of the UK OR Society - current
  • Pro Bono OR consultant for not for profit organisations (current)
  • Author of articles/editorials for Inside OR (the ORS monthly newsletter) and OR Insight (current)
  • Joint organising chair of the UK’s national ORS conference in Edinburgh, 2007
  • Chair of UK OR Society’s Heads of OR Committee, 1990 and 2003
  • Member of the ORS ‘OR in Schools’ Initiative, 2002

Honors and Awards

  • Companionship of the UK OR Society, 2015