What's Your StORy?

Harrison Schramm, CAP

Harrison Schramm, CAP

November 2015 What's Your StORy?
Operations Research Analyst, US Navy Headquarters Staff

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What was your best INFORMS experience?
Being the “Five Minute Analyst” in Analytics magazine has been a real joy. It lets me dip a toe into problems that I would never otherwise get to think about. Peter Horner and the professionals that put the INFORMS media together are top-notch. I always get interesting – and frequently unexpected –feedback from the articles.


What is your favorite O.R. application?
O.R. to me is all about problems, and I think it’s professionally limiting and perhaps even dangerous to have a single ‘favorite’ methodology. I keep from falling too in love with any particular technique by having a variety of diverse projects. Having said this, I think Logistic Regression and Data Envelopment Analysis are two great tools that can be brought to bear against a surprisingly large number of problems.


Briefly, what is the state of the military O.R. profession?
“In demand.” In military O.R., the distance from the analysis to the decision is extremely short. Continued budgetary pressure means that our advice is frequently sought out, and we have to consistently give sound analysis on complex problems with aggressive timelines. So you roll up your sleeves and you give the best answer you can with the time and data available. Our office has one of the most in-depth, no-punches-pulled internal review processes anywhere and it’s the key to our success.


If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
I prefer to have 99 problems! It’s topical, because I’m retiring from active duty in the spring and am therefore looking for new problems. I’ve always had a side interest in epidemiology, wrote a couple of papers based on it, and would really like to help find optimal policies and strategies to help eradicate preventable diseases around the world.


Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?
Benedict Cumberbatch. Constantly.


What about your career might surprise us?
I started my professional life as a Search-and-Rescue and logistics helicopter pilot, and flew over 2000 hours in a few different aircraft. In 2003 I led a crew that recovered 27 merchant sailors from their sinking ship and I’m eternally in awe of rescue swimmers.


How do you define “analytics”?
It’s the human side of O.R. O.R. is the core of problem solving, and is necessary -- but not sufficient – for making organizations better. Analytics takes that hard mathematical core and wraps it in a soft blanket that is appealing to non-analysts. Without this ‘wrapper,’ executives are back in math class, which is a happy memory for most of us, but not most of them. This is truly where ‘art meets science’ and is, in my opinion, the hardest part of the job to learn.


Where’s Waldo?
If he’s out to sea, we’ll find him. The red and white shirt gives good visibility in the daytime. When the sun goes down, it will help if he turns on his strobe light.