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UO Business | Fall 2012

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BEST OF CLASS The Quiet Powerhouse N agesh Murthy, associate professor of decision sciences and recipient of the 2012 Thomas C. Stewart Distinguished Professor award, consistently delivers on initiatives spanning experiential education, executive education, industry outreach, and large-scale funded research in collaboration with industry. "This success is a result of a lot of key stakeholders—students, faculty and staff members, executives, alumni, friends of the UO, and administrators—who brought us the opportunities and put us in a position to perform," Nagesh Murthy said in characteristic modesty during a midsummer chat in his fourth-floor office— his phone ringing and e-mail pinging in the background. Along with teaching courses in supply chain management, new product development, and sustainable operations, among other topics, Associate Professor Murthy keeps busy organizing company- sponsored projects for his classes—more than 140 to date—and helping place students in summer internships all around the world. He was also a key faculty organizer in the UO-Nyenrode exchange relaunch (see page 10). Ask around and you will quickly find that if you're a decision sciences student or an employer looking to improve operations by harnessing the student energy coming out of the UO Lundquist College of Business, you need to know Murthy. "Nagesh has quickly become the face of the UO Lundquist College of Business to the Portland manufacturing cluster," said Norm Eder, executive director of the Manufacturing 21 Coalition, a private-public partnership created to support and advocate for the Pacific Northwest's manufacturing economy. "He and his colleagues really stepped forward, along with the students, by tapping into the resources of the principal economic engine of the state to improve its business processes," Eder explained, noting that Murthy's expertise in securing grant funding for research was invaluable to his organization. "When it came time to put together a regional proposal to the federal government as a part of a national competition for regions to come forward with ideas for creating jobs, Nagesh jumped in with both feet," Eder added. The result was the $2.1 million Portland Regional Clean Tech Advance Initiative grant, one of just twenty grants given out by the Obama administration as part of the president's Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. Its aim is to enhance commercialization of new clean technology and innovations, connect existing businesses with new supply chains, and provide job training. "Without Nagesh, we wouldn't have been nearly as competitive in the grant process," said Eder. Successful Students Students, like industry leaders, also speak highly of Murthy's ability to bring true-to-life business challenges to the classroom. PhD candidate Sara Bahnson said working with Murthy solidified for her the importance of being meticulous and passionate. "When the opportunity to work with Nagesh came along, I seized it," she said. "Along with my faculty advisor team from the marketing department, assistant professors Lan Jiang and Jun Ye, Nagesh encouraged me to think about our experimental approach and provided new insights with the goal of rigor always in mind. Having Nagesh's support through the grant funding also allowed me to expand beyond traditional approaches to collecting data." That ambitious and rigorous approach was just what was needed when Rick Parker, then overseeing education and training at window and door manufacturer JELD-WEN, enlisted the help of many of Murthy's students. In the span of several years in the late 2000s, Lundquist College groups unpacked topics such as inventory management, warehouse flow and organization, continuous improvement and lean concepts, and waste reduction. "There was a really good, talented team of students that basically took on projects working with internal processes From wind-energy projects to collaborations with Oregon companies and facilitating student internships in Asia, Nagesh Murthy is at the center of many college activities. 15 and systems," Parker recalled. "They went through data and records, trying to understand the history of the different stock items and components. The collaboration involved was tremendous. Those were meaningful discussions. Students asked, 'Why are you doing this?' It made our team stop and think, 'because it's the way we've always been doing it.' That was significant." Parker also noted how the experience exposed the company to the great talent coming out of the Lundquist College of Business, raising the bar in terms of the skill set they were looking for from new hires—a skill set that Murthy is so adept at bringing out in students. And Ty Kouri '12, now an information technology intern at Columbia Distributing, can attest to that. He found himself applying insights gained in Murthy's courses immediately upon graduation. "I didn't even get through the first day at my job before drawing from lessons learned while working with Nagesh on a bulk handling systems project," he said. "It was truly one of the best, if not the best, experiences of my entire four years at the Lundquist College. I feel like I have a solid foundation to continue learning, and a better understanding of where and how to improve as I begin my career."

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