What's Your StORy?

Sudharshana Apte


December 2017 What's Your StORy?
Research Scientist, Altria Client Services

More questions for Sudharshana Apte?
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What prompted you to enter this field? Why?
The Diet Problem! It was one of the first models I learned as an O.R. student and I was so excited that I could translate something mundane into math and find a solution. I was fortunate to have passionate professors that showed me the applicability of operations research in solving complex real-world problems and the rest as they say is history!


What has been your favorite INFORMS experience so far?
It would have to be the 2015 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in Huntington Beach, CA. It was my first Analytics conference and I really enjoyed the format.


Tell us something you've recently learned.
I am a constant learner. Recently, I have been taking courses in machine learning and artificial intelligence to broaden my skillset.


How do you define "analytics"?
Analytics has become such a buzzword and definitions vary depending on who you ask. To me, "analytics" is a mathematical approach to gain insights from data to address business questions and help drive better decisions.


Tell us about how your involvement in WORMS has impacted your life/career.
I have had a blessed life with good role models and have been surrounded by people who have had faith in my abilities. I realize that opportunities are not always accessible to everyone, which is why I am committed to promoting underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Serving as the VP of Communications for WORMS has awarded me with the opportunity to further this passion.


Congratulations on being awarded the VCU 10 Under 10! Do you feel your involvement in INFORMS helped you achieve this?
Absolutely! INFORMS has enabled me to grow professionally and has also helped me give back to the community, both of which made me qualified to be nominated for the award.


What do you think are the most significant barriers for women/minorities in analytics careers? How could they be remedied?
I believe the most significant barriers for women in analytics careers, at least in industry, has been the lack of strong, positive role models and appropriate training. In order to overcome these barriers, women need to network more and develop skills that will help them succeed. It is great to see the tides begin to turn, as more and more women are breaking the glass ceiling and successfully balancing their work and life.


What interest do you have outside of work that might surprise us?
I am all fired up when it comes to throwing pots on a wheel! (I take pottery lessons at the local museum.)


What recent project have you been involved in that you are proud of?
I have been involved in designing a study to help our business understand how Asian minorities approach their careers. Working on this project has enabled me to go on a journey of introspection and reflection. I am both proud and grateful for having been a part of this project.


Which social network do you use most and why?
Facebook, because it helps me stay connected with my friends and family back home in India.


What's your favorite Pandora station?
I truly believe music is universal. I listen to everything from the blues to Bollywood!


Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman?
Well, Wonder Woman, of course :)