Position statement: Robin Lougee

“INFORMS needs to aggressively capitalize on the game-changing momentum in analytics. As president, I will advance current efforts and pilot new initiatives to bring value to our members and profession.”

Robin Lougee

I am deeply honored to be nominated for the position of INFORMS president. Along with many of you, I share a passionate enthusiasm for operations research. INFORMS is my professional home. I joined as a graduate student. For more than 20 years I have worked alongside the many talented teams of volunteers and staff who make a difference. My experience spans the spectrum from serving on the Board, to leading subdivisions, to chairing prizes, to organizing meetings, to participating on editorial boards, to creating new value like the COIN-OR open-source initiative.

The caliber and diversity of talent at INFORMS makes service its own reward for me, and I am grateful to be considered for this leadership opportunity.

It is an auspicious time for our community. INFORMS is arguably in the healthiest position in its history. US News & World Report ranks “operations research analyst” as No. 2 in “Best Business Jobs” and No. 18 in the “100 Best Jobs” based on a composite score that includes current and projected conditions – a move up over last year in both categories. Our skills are in demand as evidenced by the number of open job postings and underscored by the growth in the number of master’s degree programs in analytics and data science.

Our membership is at a record high. Journal submissions continue to grow. Attendance at the last annual meeting was almost another record breaker. And our financial position is strong.

From my perspective as a research scientist at IBM Research, the opportunities for our profession have never been more promising. A confluence of technology trends in cloud, mobile and social are changing businesses and the world around us in new ways. For example, in 2015 the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, owned no vehicles (nor did the world’s more valuable retailer, Alibaba, own inventory, or the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, own real estate).

Data is considered the new “natural” resource. The number of organizations looking to leverage data is creating unprecedented interest in the talent, tools and theory found in our community.

The INFORMS leadership has acted wisely to position INFORMS to catch the current wave of interest in analytics. Thanks to their foresight, INFORMS has made significant strategic moves to widen the aperture in how we think about ourselves and what we offer the world, such as re-branding of the spring conference and launching Analytics magazine to name just a few of the many changes.

INFORMS needs to aggressively capitalize on the game-changing momentum in analytics. New initiatives are under way, including journals, educational offerings and conferences. As president, I will work with the dedicated INFORMS staff, led by Melissa Moore, and the volunteers on the Board and membership to advance the efforts that have begun and pilot new initiatives that will bring value to our members and profession.

Three passions that I bring to the role are practice, students and outreach:

  1. INFORMS needs to be relentless in reaching out across the spectrum of professionals involved in analytics – from invention to investment – in celebrating our profession and its impact.
  2. INFORMS publications are outstanding. INFORMS should also support access to operations research software repositories, data sets, benchmarks and standards. These digital assets are building blocks to accelerating science within our own community and conduits by which researchers and developers in other communities can know and engage with us.
  3. Students in our classes today are the future creators, consumers and advocates of analytics tomorrow. Student programs that provide a positive connection with INFORMS and build social networks with members are investments in our future. Many subdivisions offer highly regarded best student paper awards. INFORMS should also support student competitions involving data and analysis that could appeal to a broad range of students.

There is no limit to the creativity of INFORMS members. I am inspired by the world-class achievements of our community and look forward to the new era that is unfolding. With your support, I will help INFORMS make the most of the exciting opportunities ahead of us.

Robin Lougee is the Global Research Industry Lead for Consumer Products & Agriculture at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. As an active INFORMS member for more than 20 years, she has served in leadership roles including vice president of Meetings on the INFORMS Board, past chair of the INFORMS Computing Society and chair of the INFORMS UPS George D. Smith Prize.

She co-pioneered the creation of COIN-OR, an open-source foundry for computational operations research, and she led its growth to an independent non-profit that has served the scientific and business community for more than 10 years.

She is the founding chair of the INFORMS Professional Colloquium, which has mentored students aspiring to careers in industry for more than a decade. She accepted the INFORMS Impact Prize on behalf of the COIN-OR community in 2014.

She earned her Ph.D. in mathematical sciences from Clemson University in 1993.