Beyond the Bio: Elkafi Hassini

May 5, 2014 | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Elkafi Hassini, Associate Professor of Operations Management

hassini_elkafi-(1)In a few sentences, please summarize your academic/business career leading up to you joining DeGroote.

I have joined DeGroote after finishing my master and doctoral studies in Management Sciences at the University of Waterloo. Prior to that I have been trained as an industrial engineer at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. As a training engineer, I have spent some time working with automotive and appliance manufacturing companies in Turkey and Tunisia, my place of birth.

What is the most interesting place/event/moment that your research/career has led you to?

The best moment that I cherish in my research career is when my graduate students defend their research dissertations and hold positions that allow them to apply the knowledge they have acquired at McMaster. A recent example is Erdem Ҁoskun, a graduate of the M.A.Sc. program in Computational Science and Engineering, who has since graduation been working in Canadian Tire on quite advanced optimization and business analytics projects.

Why academia? What led you to teach?

I have had a passion for teaching since I was in high school. At that time when one day our French teacher asked about our career aspirations I had no hesitation to say I want to be a teacher. In my mind, at the time, I was thinking about becoming an elementary school teacher. As I progressed in my education through university my aspirations grew as well. Many teachers inspired me through this Journey. Thinking that dreams and inspirations are not sufficient, I have enrolled in a University Teaching Certificate program at the University of Waterloo, while doing my doctoral studies. This has helped hone my class management skills and develop a bud for the scholarship of teaching as well.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for your field?

By its nature the field of operations research and management deals with applied research and so it has an immense power and agility to adapt to changes in the needs of the business world: from quality management and just in time to ecommerce and supply chain management and recently health care and data analytics. While this chase of the ‘hot’ may have kept the field away from some major breakthrough theoretical contributions, as a lot of the applied research ends up being a reuse of existing theories and a patchwork of techniques borrowed from different disciplines, there is a chance that this may be changing in the near future. This, I think, is driven largely by corporations, such as Amazon, Google and IBM, which are making it clear that the reuse of existing models and theories are not sufficient to stay competitive. They are also saying that our current programs graduates have only a third of the skills that they are looking for: a pure business analyst, a computer programmer or a statisticians. To meet this demand, universities have to create more multidisciplinary programs that can group all these skills in one single person.

What is the first thing your students learn about you that isn’t in your academic bio?

I would speculate it is the fact that I tend to be more practice oriented than I look on paper.

What excites you about your current research interests?

What I find intriguing is the fact that often the subject of my research is a group of companies rather than a single company. This framework allows us to look at interactions between companies and coordination mechanisms that extend managers control to resources that are outside of their enterprise. We are currently investigating sustainability and risk modelling in global supply chains using such frameworks. It is always satisfying when we can show that a supply chain can collectively do better, in terms of maximizing service levels or lowering costs, by just figuring out a better way for partners to work together with minimum or no additional investments at all.

Elkafi Hassinihassinie is an Associate Professor of Operations Management. Professor Hassini uses mathematical models and techniques to solve business decision problems. He teaches supply chain management and operations management.

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