If I force myself to do a little pattern recognition, my INFORMS Analytics conference experience seems to map nicely to a traditional life-cycle with a beginning, middle and end. I’m thinking the life-cycle of infancy, growth/development, and maturation might be a nice analog for how I spend the three days at this year’s conference.
Sunday: Since first attending several years ago, my Analytics conference beginning always includes helping students and practitioners at [mostly] the start of their career engage with INFORMS and the broader Analytics community. Programs like the INFORMS Professional Colloquium (IPC), coffee with a member, and the newly minted Analytics Section mentoring initiative are really designed to help new[er] INFORMS members get the most out of there INFORMS experiences–both from the overall INFORMS organization in general, and at the Analytics conference, specifically. My memory is that I blog about the IPC every year–about how much it changed my career, how supportive and encouraging the programming team was, how formative the content was for my career. I won’t repeat all of that in detail, but I really hope this year’s cohort found the experience as beneficial as I did, and can take something away to help them further their career. I was delighted to engage with a new Coffee with a Member (CwaM) member, Sophia Sullivan of Starcom Mediavest Group (they’re hiring, by the way), as well as my CwaM member from last year, Alborz Kashani who has graduated and now works full-time at Amazon Web Services (he looked me up on INFORMS Connect to re-connect this year, way to use the tools!). CwaM is a great way to connect more-new and less-new members, to help build networks that really enable members to get the most out of INFORMS. Lastly, the newest mentoring initiative this year was introduced by the Analytics Section. I was paired with Elaine Jin based on our shared interest in Data Science, and we spent quite a bit of time chatting about my background, her interests, and I was pleased to answer her questions and am now eager to connect her with others in my network (like Sophia, who also lives in Chicago — y’all should talk!).