What's Your StORy?

Ranganath S. Nuggehalli, CAP

Ranganath S. Nuggehalli, CAP

May 2017 What's Your StORy?
Principal Scientist, UPS

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What prompted you to enter this field? Why?
Growing up in a farming family in a Third World country, you are naturally indoctrinated to conserve and be efficient. I always used to think about how to make things better/last longer. While doing my MBA at Texas Christian University, I was introduced to the field of operations research, and I was naturally attracted to it. 


How do you define “analytics”?
My definition is probably much broader than how others define. The key here is analysis. It could be based on the data, which it is most of the time; but also could be based on an analysis of subjective characteristics. The goal of analytics is to create something better. I view operations research and analytics as one and the same.


What has been your favorite INFORMS experience so far?
It is difficult to single out one, for there are many. However, being part of the team that made the UPS George D. Smith Prize a reality does rank high. It was a great team of people from the INFORMS Practice Section that worked with INFORMS and UPS and made the prize happen. It is gratifying whenever I hear from an applicant how competing for the prize has brought fresh perspective about their program.


Tell us about your experiences with the Edelman competition – from being a finalist to a winner, and then a coach.
It is a unique, humbling, and gratifying experience. It was a great group of finalists, and anyone could have been the winner. The project was very well known with in UPS with proven benefits.  It was gratifying that our CEO David Abney volunteered to be a presenter and made time to come to the Analytics Conference in Orlando last year even though he had a hectic schedule and had to fly back late in the night. My experience as a finalist also helped me to be a better coach. 


What is something you learned in the last month?
I am always fascinated by large construction projects. I visited the Hoover Dam last month. I was surprised to learn that the concrete is still being cured (getting stronger), even though it has been 80 plus years since it was constructed, and will continue to do so for years to come. The project was completed under the budgeted amount and ahead of the schedule.


What is your least favorite mode of transportation? Can you apply a routing problem to make it better?
Motorcycle. Yes, I always think in terms of optimization whenever I go riding. Here the problem is not about minimizing time or miles, it is about having more fun while reducing the risk. A lot of things like weather conditions, the route I rode the last time, and how much time I have, go into my route planning. No, I do not use ORION for it.


If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
Two years ago I participated in a scenario planning workshop that was held at West Point. The goal was to plan a defense scenario for 2050. Since then my interest in this field has increased. In a way this is the opposite of what we, the O.R. professionals do. I would love to do a scenario plan for UPS in either 2030 or 2040.



What interest do you have outside of work that might surprise us?
I don’t think anything I do would surprise the people who know me. I am an audiophile, an avid reader, and enjoy cooking. Fashion design is one of the professions I would have been attracted to.


What would you name the autobiography of your life?
“He did it! Despite himself.”


Tell us a funny math joke.
Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions.

Why is the math book sad? You would be too, if you had as many problems. (OK, I am not the original author!)