Excellent student presentations

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the presentations from some of our students to an engineering firm. The students were tasked with examining the opportunities for the firm in the South East Asia region. Earlier, I was involved in providing some feedback to the students, and so it was encouraging to see the progress that some of the teams made. In particular, one of the teams that had earlier struggled managed to turn everything around and produce a carefully considered and beautiful presentation that conveyed their research very effectively.

There was a lot of interest evident from the three executives that judged. Their task was not made easy by the high quality of presentations.

It’s also important to note that the judges saw all presentations and these were not cherry-picked or a selection of only the strongest students.

If you want to know why you should be studying at the University of Auckland, you only need to see the standard of analysis and presentation from the students to understand what the Master of Management programme can offer. Congratulations to the students involved – it was very impressive work.

The new Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Applied Logistics

This year, I will be assuming the role of the next Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Applied Logistics (IJAL).

As noted in an introduction:

My goal is that a professional or manager reading the IJAL should be able to take away an understanding of how they can make a sustained improvement based on effective logistics. In the course of this journey, the IJAL should begin to push further in understanding how new logistics approaches fit within established theoretical frameworks and how frameworks must adapt to evolve accordingly to accommodate new practices and innovations.

Within the journal, I want to maintain a strong sense of application and benefit to those who will apply and use the research.

I’m also keen to hear from postgraduate researchers in logistics and supply chain topics who are keen to publish based on the research that they are undertaking. If this sounds like you – please get in touch.

Starting a new job in the Graduate School of Management at the University of Auckland

Early this year I started working as a Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain and Operations Management, within the Graduate School of Management at the University of Auckland. In this role, I lead classes focused on students in the Master of Management and international business specialisations. So far this has been lots of fun, and in particular the way in which the classes are split into three different types:

  • Plenary lectures – which comes complete with an ‘annotator’ allowing me to markup any slides or other material with pen marks, or use the ‘laser pointer’ mode to get a brief mark on the slide which disappears soon after. Image below – a cool toy! This makes some of the ideas easier to convey during the lectures.
  • Tutorials
  • Team-based learning … in a flexible and adaptable room with plenty of whiteboards for students to work on collaboratively


Big week and a few good publications submitted

It was a big week last week. We had some full-on workshops on research methods. On Friday Dr Torsten Reiners and I were able to submit several publications. We are at the point where the book we’ve been editing on gamification in education and business is with the publishers and we’re awaiting the proofs. Plenty going on and semester starting next week.

The Logistics Technology report for NZ has been released

We have just released the Logistics Technology report based on NZ companies in 2014 … head over to logisticstech.co.nz to download this now! Many firms are lagging in their application of technologies or are not making effective use of the technology they have access to. Firms that are moving ahead tend to be more aware of their technology investments and how these are being evaluated – Leaders use more metrics and have a focus wider than simply cost or accuracy focused measures. In the near future, such Leaders are intending to invest more heavily in materials handling technologies. Followers, on the other hand, are still making investments in more fundamental ERP and company-wide systems. The Leaders tend to invest more heavily in training related to technology and employ a wider range of training approaches including more formal educational pathways.

Staying awake

For kids’ birthday parties? Or to keep adults awake during evening classes. When class runs from 18:00 to 21:00 after work it can be hard to stay awake … but this is an impressive collection of focus-enhancing foods 🙂

A collection to help stay awake during evening classes

A collection to help stay awake during evening classes

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Exam week

End of the biggest week for exams that I’ve had in quite a while. Big congrats to my Operations Management students at AUT who worked through their 3-hour, short-answer examination. My hope is that this challenged the cohort sufficiently

And it wasn’t just my students that engaged in their examinations – I was also sitting one on Sunday morning from 2-5am. I have to admit – this isn’t the greatest time of day for me to work. The exam was the Certified Demand Driven Planner programme (CDDP) administered by ICEA. Why the odd hours? It’s administered from the USA where I understand it was a more reasonable hour. An iProctor monitors a video feed for up to 5 candidates to ensure they are alone, not referring to books, etc. It was a multi-choice question exam. Now, I have my beef with this type of assessment but one outcome is pretty awesome: there is no wait to find out how you are did; an instant score is generated (in my case, slightly incorrect as one of my questions did not have an image in the question, making it impossible to answer!).

All up, a tough examination week for both myself and my students. I think we’re all breathing a sigh of relief.

The nexus between research and teaching

We hear plenty about research-informed teaching from Deans and accreditation bodies. To some faculty it all seems meaningless, hot-air-fuelled nonsense. Is it?

In their publication “Faculty Research Productivity and Standardized Student Learning Outcomes in a University Teaching Environment”, Galbraith and Merrill note that “…it was found that faculty research activity is positively and significantly related to teaching effectiveness …”

While many research studies focus on the evaluation of student evaluations as a measure of teaching effectiveness, Galbraith and Merrill took care to measure learning outcomes using standardised student learning outcome measure in a more robust and defensible way.

If you look around, while there are strong drivers to promote faculty to be more research active, in Australasia many faculty still don’t get fully engaged in research. Those that are tend to be extremely self-motivated folk. The same self-motivation may also manifest itself as a keen and careful teacher, generating the improved learning outcomes in the study.

Regardless, an interesting finding that does validate the belief that those engaged in research have a lot of interesting things to say about their subject and possess plenty of passion to inspire their students…

Assurance of supply and food security – essential in the 21st century

Do you want fries with your horse meat burger?

Supply chains are funny things. Firms often take the word of their trading partners that everything is as they say it is. Supplies and materials are infrequently checked.

As a result, something as simple as ‘meat’ can be supplied, used, and sold for a while before anyone notices that anything is amiss.

Horse meat burgers? Possibly not a problem, except when the meat has been labelled as ‘Beef’. Hm. So – Irish company, supplying ‘beef’ that isn’t beef and instead horse meat. Sure, horse meat is vastly cheaper – but they’d have to think that they’d be caught out. Possibly the manufacturer of the hamburger patties was caught out with faulty supplies? But why wasn’t the different meat noticed? Why did it take such a long time for someone to pick it up?

Security of supply and being able to assure consumers that everything in the supply chain is OK is becoming an increasingly important competitive advantage, rooted in supply chain management. Being able to verify materials and provide assurance is particularly crucial in the food and beverage industries.

Just in the Western world?

Hell no – this is important everywhere. While in Hong Kong the other year I was having a meal in Mc Donalds (YES – even my students told me that this was stupid! I’ve since been and tried a variety of local meals and foods and enjoyed most of it!). While munching the food, I noticed that McD was advertising (on the paper sheet on the plastic tray) that they have complete visibility over their chicken supply chain, assuring consumers that the meat was safe, compliant with regulations, and was generally GREAT to eat. Trust McD. In this case, with a strong firm in the chain, sourcing from a few major firms to make a small range of food in the restaurant, there is probably better chances that McD is doing a good job, much more so than a supermarket chain like Tesco is doing a good job of making sure that there is no horse meat in meat patties from one supplier (how many SKUs does Tesco have? Probably upwards of 40,000!).

Burger King – stopped using the horse meat pattie supplier. You would have thought that Burger King would likewise have been able to provide assurance that their materials were ‘good’ and trustworthy … hm….

Food – assurance of supply and security of supply is crucial. Welcome to 21st century supply chains.