Entrepreneurs and Operational Research part 2

 Last month I raised the question of whether Entrepreneurship relates to the Operational Research mentality.  Since then, a few people have suggested that there have been a number of consultancies created by entrepreneurs in the O.R. world devoted to consulting with specific tools.  I opened my monthly newsletter from the (UK) O.R.Society to find that there had been a presentation at the Student Conference on O.R. in April.  Here is what was written:

Entrepreneurship in Operational Research - Essential bedfellows? by David Buxton

David Buxton has had a varied career history. Starting out as a Geographer before moving into Analytical roles and then into senior positions in general management. Recently, David move into academia, before taking the risky step to strike out and founded dseConsulting. Enjoying commercial success and a reputation as a simulation expert, last year he joined forces to also launch decisionLab, styled as the modern approach to OR consultancy.

These business ventures and the previous experiences have each given different insights into the role of OR in business, and had led David to believe that an entrepreneurial spirit in Operational Research is an essential component.  Looking at the definition of an entrepreneur: “someone who identifies an opportunity and organises, operates and assumes the risk for a business venture to exploit that opportunity“, it is easy to see that this should be the very essence of OR. However, in practice, we frequently see OR as a ’behind the scenes’ or supporting function? As evidence of this - given the difference our work can make, and the decisions we work on - wouldn’t we expect to see some of the high flyers of the business and political worlds coming from an OR background?

So why is it that we don’t? Perhaps we should focus more on risk taking?

And what about those characteristics associated with the most successful entrepreneurs: interpersonal skills, the ability to persuade, the ability to lead and motivate, charisma? Are those skills traditionally valued and developed in OR?

In the end, does it really matter? Perhaps other disciplines are better suited to the cut and thrust of a commercially-driven world - we can let them take the plaudits whilst we continue with the decision support. But does this threaten to marginalise OR? And in a competitive job-market what can an OR graduate do stand out?

Using examples from his own experience, David will highlight the importance of the inner entrepreneur. It hasn’t all been plain sailing and in this talk David will share his mistakes as well as successes to provide you with insight to help you prepare for your own career and recognise the skills you’ll need to move seamlessly from academic to commercial to consultancy environments.


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