Position statement: Nicholas G. Hall

“Our vision is to sustain INFORMS’ intellectual leadership in the analytics/operations research/management science field, while increasing our impact.”

Nicholas G. Hall

It would be an honor to serve as president of INFORMS. The future of INFORMS is bright, with record membership, a strong financial position and exciting new opportunities in both academia and practice. Serving as president would be especially meaningful because of my seven previous years on the Board.

As vice president for Membership and Professional Recognition, I refined the nomination and awards processes used by INFORMS’ awards committees. As treasurer, I improved the budget calendar and process and developed improved performance measures. I reported operating surpluses amounting to approximately $1.8 million and an 80 percent increase in reserve funds. This money supports INFORMS’ activities, including analytics certification.

Our vision is to sustain INFORMS’ intellectual leadership in the analytics/operations research/management science field, while increasing our impact. We are the only professional society with five Financial Times journals. The applied work of INFORMS members provides remarkable, although sometimes underappreciated, value.

Given INFORMS’ strategic plan from the January 2016 Board meeting, I suggest the following directions for further growth and improvement:

Ensure continuing financial stability. Continuing financial stability is a prerequisite for fulfillment of INFORMS’ new strategic plan. Despite the benefits of analytics, INFORMS’ revenue streams remain poorly diversified, and increasing revenue through further growth in the annual meeting is logistically challenging. At a strategic level, this issue needs to be addressed by extending INFORMS’ leadership and visibility with respect to nationally important issues, for example healthcare, energy policy and sustainability.

We need further diversification of INFORMS’ revenue, especially in the areas of continuing education, conference workshops and certification. The financial controls that I introduced as treasurer need to be strengthened, and frequent benchmarking of the performance of our investment advisors is needed.

Improve membership value and member retention. The first goal of INFORMS’ strategic plan is identifying, recognizing and promoting the work of members. Many new and recently joined members fail to renew their memberships. We need to enhance membership benefits for all members.

I will develop a system that mentors new and recently joined members into continuing their membership. This will include a “new member toolkit” that helps new members understand and enjoy the wide array of opportunities and resources that INFORMS membership conveys. I will simplify and obtain sponsorship for the “Coffee with a Member” program for first-time conference attendees to enable many more conference attendees to participate. Funding has been approved for website redesign with analytic tracking, and the implementation needs to be state of the art and include an upgrade of the membership directory.

Improve public funding for INFORMS activities. Our activities remain significantly underfunded relative to the societal value we deliver. We need to develop more effective mechanisms for explaining our case. This process starts with improved visibility and a clearer message about the societal value we deliver through OR/MS and analytics. To deliver this message, I will work with INFORMS staff to develop focused policy conferences in Washington, D.C., with government and science policy-makers, to highlight the value we deliver on key national issues – for example, healthcare, energy policy and military logistics. This will support the second and third goals of INFORMS’ strategic plan, by promoting the value of our contributions to decision-makers and organizations.

Exploit opportunities from demographic and scientific changes. Predictable demographic and scientific changes include:

  • increasing internationalization of our membership,
  • a larger percentage of members from outside academia,
  • closer integration between academic disciplines and departments,
  • increasing consulting opportunities among the mainstream providers, and
  • faster turnover of topical areas within our field.

We need to identify the special needs of our international members. Our conference cluster structure needs to facilitate cross-disciplinary topics. I will encourage the development of a conference colloquium specifically for aspiring consultant members. The Publications Department needs to identify newly emerging topic areas. The Board needs to expedite the approval process for new journals.

Improve information about INFORMS activities. Increasing the involvement and participation of members in its activities is an important long-term goal of INFORMS. Yet, changes in strategic direction, operational updates and new opportunities are not systematically shared with members.

I will develop a system for reporting a summary of each Board meeting to the membership, with a view to encouraging feedback and participation from members. This summary could be published in either OR/MS Today or INFORMS eNews.

We are all very fortunate to be involved in this great activity that frequently challenges, occasionally frustrates, and continually fascinates us. As president, I will work towards growth in visibility, funding, membership and impact.

Nicholas G. Hall is a professor of Management Sciences and Integrated Systems Engineering at The Ohio State University. He holds a Ph.D. (Management Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1986) and a B.A. and M.A. (Economics, University of Cambridge). His research and teaching interests include project management, scheduling and pricing. He has published 82 articles in such journals as Operations Research, Management Science, Mathematics of Operations Research, Mathematical Programming, Games and Economic Behavior and Interfaces. He has served as associate editor of Operations Research (1991-) and Management Science (1993-2008). His 335 presentations include 11 keynote addresses, eight INFORMS tutorials and 98 invited talks in 23 countries. A 2008 citation study ranked him 13th among 1,376 operations management scholars. He won the Fisher College Faculty Research Award (1998, 2005). He served as president of MSOM (1999-2000), treasurer of INFORMS (2011-2014) and on the Ohio Steel Industry Advisory Council (1997-2002).