ORIE Graduates Help Hone Procter and Gamble's Secret Weapon
The business web site BNET recently singled out Procter and Gamble (P&G) as having a "...Secret Weapon: OR Inside." For many years, P&G has hired ORIE graduates to work in functions from manufacturing to marketing to finance. Several recent graduates have contributed to the success of the Analytics organization featured in the article. BNET is part of CNET Networks, the interactive media company that tracks developments in the technology industry.
At P&G, the term "Analytics" signifies Operations Research, particularly in the area of supply chain management. P&G is one of the companies analyzed by Babson professor Thomas Davenport in his January 2006 Harvard Business Review article and subsequent book Competing on Analytics. In fact, there are ORIE alums at most of the organizations that Davenport identifies as competing on analytics.
Glenn Wegryn, whose group is described in the BNET article, says that P&G always "appreciated the great ORIE program at Cornell for top analytics talent."
Among the alums who have worked in the analytics area at Procter and Gamble in recent years are Jeff Goldman, M.Eng. '98, Irene Poh, M. Eng. '02 and Matt Cinelli, B.S. '00. Matt was in the Commercial Analytics group before becoming a business analyst and then brand manager for various products.
Irene Poh is currently working with marketing teams but previously ran P&G's largest North American warehousing operation and optimized inventory and distirbution systems businesses in North and Latin America. P&G's acquisition of Gillette presented a particular challenge for Irene, since the acquired company had to be integrated into P&G's supply chain. She says that ORIE's program "gives gradautes a unique combination of quantitative skills and business acumen that prepares them for a vareity of supply chain and commercial assignments at P&G."
Jeff Goldman, who is currently in Business Analysis Section Manager for P&G's Greater China Global Hair Care Business in Guangzhou, China, credits Cornell OR with providing "the ideal background to succeed at P&G Analytics. Within months of joining P&G, I was applying the M.Eng. program’s unique combination of Operations Research and business consulting to optimize global and regional investment decisions. Building on this foundation, I’ve built my career in P&G analytics with assignments on 3 continents covering almost every facet of our global business."
Other Cornell alums building on their OR skills at P&G include Marcia (Peer) Arieta and John Crego, both B.S. '97 and M.Eng. '98, Ian Barac M.Eng. '93 MBA '94, Tracey (McGrath) Wrubel B.S. '91, Chris Peterson B.S. '88, Wendy Weil B.S. '87, and Bob Marklein M.S. '81. Arieta and Wrubel work at P&G's manufacturing plant in Mehoopany, PA, Crego is in a Product Supply Information Technology unit, and Peterson is Vice President, Finance at the Cincinnatti corporate headquarters.
At P&G, Bob Marklein has worked on the "application of data and analytics to how we market and sell our brands." In the last few years, his work has "focused on developing innovative new ways of analyzing data that we purchase to get insights about how shoppers make decisions in stores" and on communicating the results in language that "makes it possible for Sales and Marketing people to grasp [them] and take action." In the 2004-2005 academic year, Marklein was the client for a Master of Engineering project that analyzed the optimal product placement on retail store shelves. He is currently in P&G's Information and Decision Solutions organization, along with several other ORIE alums. He echoes Goldman's comment, saying that ORIE's program is "an ideal base for analytics work at P&G."
After four years at P&G's Mehoopany paper plant, Wendy Weil moved to R&D in Cincinnatti. She has worked with several product lines, including tissues and towels, snacks (Pringles) and feminine care products, where she is currently a section heard responsible for material development and supply. "Throughout my career I've had to analyze data provide recommendations for how to proceed based on the results," she says.
Wrubel, who has held assignments in plant finance, production planning, capacity analysis and work system optimization at the Mehoopany plant, says that her ORIE degree prepared her well "to work in manufacturing and the diversity of assignments I've held. The ORIE program provides depth and breadth in areas that are applicable to real world manufacturing." She is responsible for P&G's recruiting at Cornell for manufacturing assignments, and finds the ORIE students "well prepared for the work P&G manufacturing has to offer."
Ian Barac is the Supply Chain Manager for P&G's health care products throughout Latin America. He came to Cornell from Peru and worked in Colombia and Venezuela before taking on his current assignment, based in Santiago, Chile. He says that he has applied the analytical skills developed in ORIE throughout his career, and that "combining these analytical skills in real-life supply chain business cases was a highlight during my ORIE studies at Cornell."
An earlier alumnus, Alan Gast, joined P&G after completing his Masters in Industrial Engineering in 1958. Al did some of the "first modeling which led to decentralization of production planning and inventory control," he says, after which he "went as a 'missionary' into the non-technical physical distribution part of the business and developed the first warehouse and plant location models." He says his "Cornell operations research training put me on the leading edge of a innovative wave which gave my corporate career a big boost. It was great fun."
William B. (Ben) McAllister joined P&G in 1966 after completing his B.S. and M.Eng. in ORIE. Al Gast was his first supervisor at P&G. McAllister says that in 1983 "I was summoned to the executive offices..[and] told that my statistical background would help me become a Deming expert." He went onto establish a quality improvement movement at P&G which led to two billion dollars in benefits. He is currently Operations Manager of Sheperd Chemical.
|Allan Mogensen (photo courtesy of Ben S. Graham, Jr.)|
The use of a Cornell-derived analytical attitude towards work at P&G may date back at least as far as 1944, when P&G engineer Art Spinanger attended a summer institute given by Allan Mogensen, a 1923 Industrial Engineering graduate of Cornell (ORIE still awards an annual student prize in honor of Mogensen). Mogensen, who taught at the University of Rochester and worked with Industrial Engineering pioneer Lillian Gilbreth, founded an area known as work simplification, which was implemented through the use of process charts to understand the flow of work and opportunities for continuous improvement. Work simplification has evolved into the activity of continuous business process improvement.
|Art Spinanger(left) and Ben S. Graham, Sr., who attended Cornell and became a pioneer in work simplification, in Mogensen's 1944 course (photo courtesy of Ben S. Graham, Jr.)|
Spinanger took Mogensen's ideas back to P&G and used them to give employees there a chance to improve their own work. By the 1980s, according to In Search of Excellence by Peters and Waterman, P&G was annually generating first year savings of hundreds of millions of dollars from employee process improvement ideas. P&G's "secret weapon" belongs to a long tradition that is closely tied to ORIE and its predescessor Cornell departments.
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