Impacting the supply chain talent pipeline by expanding academic outreach

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Talent is top of mind for most executives as fuel for the future - but it is approaching a crisis in the supply chain world. For the past four years, hiring qualified supply chain workers has been cited as the biggest company challenge in the annual survey conducted by MHI and Deloitte Consulting. As older workers retire, a new crop must be hired and gain experience to replenish the gap, but the supply chain employee of the future requires digital skill sets that are in high demand across all industries. This hiring landscape means that attracting and retaining new talent is harder than ever. I’m excited to have joined Kinaxis in the Office of Strategy, a new function that includes academic outreach among its responsibilities. We recognize that post-secondary institutions have a key role to play in transforming their curricula to address the skills needed by the modern supply chain, as well as in research that can help us better understand the present and plan for the future.

Longstanding work with academia

We have long seen academia as important to our success. That’s why Kinaxis has a robust coop and intern program that has seen nearly 150 students become a temporary part of our team in the last decade - and we have hired more than a third of those students to return as full-time employees. Because our historic focus has been hiring R&D employees to work at our headquarters in Ottawa, we have built strong relationships with local institutions, including Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo, and Algonquin College. We have sent speakers into the classroom to share their experiences working in supply chain and worked with students on their research projects. We have also consulted leading professors over the years on key aspects of their research to better inform our own product development. More recently, Kinaxis joined the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics Supply Chain Exchange as one of their partners, giving us opportunities to interact with supply chain leaders in industry who share our interest in cutting-edge research and opportunities to meet MIT students in their various programs. As one example of the benefits of this partnership, earlier this year several Kinaxis employees participated in the Women in Supply Chain Summit MIT sponsored and blogged about their key takeaways from the event.

The supply chain of the future and the talent to lead it

Our customers and partners feel similar pain around the talent crisis that research indicates is prevalent. As we look to the future, we decided to expand the scope of our academic outreach as part of our new Office of Strategy, led by Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Anne Robinson, who is charged with working on our strategic roadmap, emerging technologies, thought leadership, and new industry opportunities. My focus is on industry outreach and thought leadership: two areas which involve academic outreach, including the many professors whose research helps us understand trends and directions in deeper ways. Our vision is to help grow the supply chain talent pipeline through academic outreach to inspire more students to pursue careers in supply chain. By bringing practitioners into the classroom we can illustrate the fascinating and complex problems supply chain is tackling today and the rewarding careers possible in addressing them. Our ultimate vision is experiential education. By pairing RapidResponse with an interactive case study, we want to be able to give students the chance to apply the supply chain fundamentals they learn in class to a real-world problem.

Reaching out to academia

To help us understand the future trends in supply chain, the gaps in talent, and where our help could best make an impact, we are inviting a select group of thought leaders (a mix of academics as well as practitioners) to Kinexions ‘19 to discuss these issues in more detail. Among other activities planned, we expect that the focused roundtable conversation with them will help seed thoughts and interest to expand our academic outreach. Not only are we bringing academics to us, we are going to where the academics gather at the 2019 Annual Meeting of INFORMS (the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences), which is an international society for practitioners in the fields of operations research, management science, and analytics. In fact, Anne Robinson is a past president of INFORMS, the youngest in the organization’s history. This conference will bring together more than 6,000 people to present their latest research, with multiple tracks dedicated to topics like applications of optimization and machine learning to supply chain. Some of those tracks will include speakers from Kinaxis, who will be speaking about our own work in applying AI and machine learning to supply chain, as well as how to build a career in this field. See the complete list below. I have experience running an academic program for a software company in a prior role, so I know how gratifying it can be. Watching students find their spark from seeing their learning come to life is incredibly rewarding, as is seeing the world anew through the fresh perspectives they offer. As a lifelong learner, I thrive on deepening my own knowledge as I learn about many different areas of academic research and their applications in the world today. And I love connecting ideas and people, which is what our academic outreach will entail. If these things interest you, too, let me know if you’ll be attending either Kinexions ’19 or INFORMS, so we can look for you there!

Kinaxis at the INFORMS 2019 Annual Meeting

Sunday, October 20, 4:30-6:00 pm

Talk title: Interpretable AutoML for Mission Critical Supply Chain Planning Authors: Chantal Bisson-Krol, Behrouz Haji Soleimani, Hamid Nourashrafeddin, Kinaxis, Ottawa,  Canada Session: Interpretable Machine Learning (session SD08, location: CC- Room 211)

We introduce how we are using AutoML in our software at Kinaxis, a software company in the supply chain space based in Ottawa. Machine Learning of course is all the rage in industry, so we have had considerable demand from our customers for Machine Learning powered solutions.  Our users are supply chain experts, we empower them to seamlessly benefit from Machine Learning by applying AutoML principles while at the same time ensuring interpretability of models and providing explainability of predictions which helps in establishing trust in users with limited or no Machine Learning experience.

Monday, October 21, 11:00-12:30 pm

Session: Industry Job Search Panel

(session MB94, location: S- Grand Ballroom C) This panel discusses the industry interview process and do’s and don’ts associated with the job search. In addition to comment from current and former recruiters, time will be provided for questions and answers. Panelist: Dr. Anne Robinson - Chief Strategy Officer at Kinaxis, Ottawa, Canada

Monday, October 21, 4:30-6:00 pm

Talk title: Using AI/ML to deliver a smarter supply chain Session: Grab Bag: AI, Stockouts, and More (session MD73, location: S- Boren) Author: Duncan Klett, Kinaxis, Ottawa, Canada A good demand forecast is better than no forecast at all, and AI/ML methods can certainly provide a better forecast, but, it’s what you do with that forecast that counts.  In this session, learn how to apply AI/ML models for: *  Strategy and segmentation, *  Managing change, and *  Mitigating risks. To Each of these areas enable organizations to respond to supply chain variability more effectively to  achieve business success.

Tuesday, October 22, 4:35-6:05 pm

Editor's Cut

(session TE73, location S-Boren) Facilitator: Anne Robinson, Kinaxis, Ottawa, Canada Come hear from the editors of Editor's CutINFORMS Editor's Cut is an open access, multimedia online portal, which showcases case studies, articles, podcasts, and videos grouped by subject area, such as elections, crowdsourcing, or sports management. Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an Editor's Cut volume editor? Or are you a professor wondering how to use these cutting-edge case studies in your classroom? Perhaps you're a student needing real-world O.R. and analytics applications. On this panel, several of our editors will share their experience with you. You will learn what is openly available to you, and how to find it."

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