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Interviews | Jan 12, 2018 |

Talking with … Sarah Jinhui Wu

Sarah Jinhui WuEvery installment of “Talking with…” gives you a closer look into the life of a different Gabelli School faculty member, administrator, or staff member. This week, learn more about Sarah Jinhui Wu, associate professor and operations area chair.

What is one key difference between operations management for services vs. manufacturing?
The physical presence of customers in the work process of providing service itself is a key difference between service operations and manufacturing operations. Service systems with a higher degree of customer contact are more difficult to control and manage.

What is one key similarity?
The important similarity between the two is that process design, control, and improvement are critical in affecting the operational outcome variables such as cost, quality, reliability, and flexibility, as well as financial performance including market share and profit margin.

How has new product development changed in the past few years?
Faced with rapid changes in production technology and highly dynamic market competition, firms have increasingly placed new product development, or NPD, capability as a core competency and strategic imperative. With manufacturers shifting from in-house research and development to an open collaboration for innovation within the supplier network, the management of NPD initiatives has become more complex.

Can you describe an upcoming project you’ll be working on as area chair?
As a newly formed area, we are working on developing a secondary concentration in process and quality analytics. The concentration maps to the career track of process and quality, and supply-chain managers/coordinators/engineers, who need a systems-thinking mindset and added insight into the diagnostic analysis of process flows. They also need sustainable ‪process control capability to ensure ‪continual quality improvements and create economic value for supply-chain partners and stakeholder groups.

What is the most challenging operations topic to explain to students, and how do you approach it?
The most challenging topic to explain to students is that the operations decisions are intertwined; accordingly, a local improvement does not guarantee an overall system improvement. I adopt an online simulation exercise in which students are given the opportunity to run operations in their virtual factories and to compete with each other in virtual financial achievement. These hands-on exercises not only offer a real business context for students to better understand the newly learned concepts but also allow them to vividly see how various operations decisions interconnect and affect the cost structure, production lead time, and responsiveness to customer orders.

 

Fun questions

How did you spend winter break?
Skiing with my family. It is a fun activity we all enjoy. We had all the gear ready months before and were waiting for snow—heavy snow!

Favorite artist/performer:
Audrey Hepburn

Red or green grapes:
Red grapes. They contain more antioxidants.

Checkers or chess:
Chess—it’s more challenging.

Would you rather build a snow fort or sand castle?
Sand castle. I cannot stay outside in the winter that long to complete a snow fort.

You randomly find yourself at Times Square. What do you do next?
Visit National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. I would like to work through the immersive entertainment experience with my kids.

 

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