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MBA student Hemant Chandran tells us about the recent OM module:

Operations Management (OM) was a module that most of us were looking forward to. Many of us wanted to specialise in it, several excited about the first lecture. Allaying our ungrounded fears, and to our compete surprise; Dr. Peter Flett made his inaugural lecture on OM extremely interesting and thought-provoking. His discourse on Yield Management and Operations Strategy was so very insightful. What makes organisations such as Wal-mart, Fedex and Dell great examples of growth and efficiency? It is chiefly their operations management and their logistics-strategy that leave the best of their rivals behind in their specialist trade. How better to learn this than putting theory to practice?

That indeed was what we did! First, we visited ‘The Edrington Group’ (the legendary makers of Famous Grouse whisky). Mr. David Donaldson (Director of Supply Chain Management) gave us a splendid presentation on the firm’s operations and supply-chain management strategy while guiding us patiently on the plant tour. For the second onsite tour, Dr. Jillian MacBryde and our cohort picked the Edinburgh Airport. Our idea was to see for ourselves the complex operations management that underpins our safe and comfortable journey, whenever we take a routine flight. The Edinburgh Airport is owned by the Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) – a multinational private equity firm head-quartered in New York City. Recently, in 2011, BAA (which itself has undergone a rebranding in October 2012) decided to sell the airport. The employees at the airport see a positive outlook after the change of guard and GIP taking control of the operations.

Now, the airport staffs. They were a real picture of what we call “grace under pressure.” They were kind enough to conduct us through the areas such as the Security Check, the waiting lounge and baggage sorting in order to show us how complex and meticulous the operations of an airport are/ have to be round the clock each day, not to speak, of course, of the enormous volumes of human traffic and cargo it must safely deal with. All conveyor belts are automated and sort thousands of bags/cargo every hour with an impressive efficiency of 99.8% after 5 levels of screening.

Later in the day, we were taken to the air-site operations atop a tall building with marvellous gadgets which ensure the safety of the runway and marshalling aircrafts. Last but not the least: we were introduced to the fire-fighting department, its crew and technologies, at the airport. The trainers and the crew were diligently conducting the fire safety drill while we were listening to the Fire Marshal with rapt attention.

The module on OM thus instilled in us a great lesson: there is nothing to match the case-study method of learning theory that is closely aligned with its practical application. We were able to relate theory to practice when the airport authorities were talking about the process design, performance management and quality control systems in place. All in all, a great learning experience! I am sure we have all enjoyed and cherished the pleasurable learning experiences of the whisky and the Edinburgh airport tour as much as I have. I wish there were more and more of hands-on and foot-fall on floors of business activities following lectures and seminars.”