LGO Alumni Newsletter March 2015

The monthly LGO Alumni Newsletter goes out by email to all alumni; archived issues are posted on this page. If you would like to change your contact information, please email Josh Jacobs.

Message from Thomas Roemer


Thomas A. Roemer

Dear friends,

Our eventful February started with multiple snow emergencies during some of LGO’s busiest days of the year. While we had to cancel the Operating Committee meeting due to a complete shutdown of Boston infrastructure, our staff—supported by our students—still managed to conduct our admission interviews, schedule internship interviews, hold Knowledge Review and create what looks like an exciting Class of 2017. LGO spirit pure!

A final highlight of the month was a visit by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón as a guest in our LGO Global Leadership Seminar series organized by our students. Mr. Calderon, who was invited by first-year student Guillermo Pamanes, shared experiences of his six years as president with our students and a wider MIT audience. Learning about his leadership challenges at the highest level was inspirational for many of us, but perhaps most impressive was how approachable and open he was during lunch with a small group of our students. What a valuable experience and how remarkable that our students made this possible!

On a final note, with parking nearly impossible due to masses of snow, my motorcycle buried under 10 feet of the same, and with the MBTA apparently not even attempting two sigmas, I find that bicycling is still the best way to move through the Boston area. Admittedly, lots of gear (tires to ski mask) makes my commute a little less difficult. Looking at this formidable pile of gear, I started to wonder how much of this is in some way connected to our partner companies—be it in basic research, design and development, manufacturing, or delivery. It was just another reason this month to be a proud member of the LGO community.

Thomas A. Roemer
Executive Director, MIT Leaders for Global Operations Program

LGO News


Former president of Mexico speaks at LGO seminar

Felipe Calderón drew hundreds of listeners from MIT Sloan as a special speaker in LGO's Operations Leadership Seminar Series. Read more...


Farias, Zheng win awards

LGO faculty members Vivek Farias and Yanchong (Karen) Zheng have received more awards for their research accomplishments. Read more...


Students dive deep into manufacturing and operations on plant trek

If LGO students get their feet wet with local plant visits during their first summer at MIT, Domestic Plant Trek in January means putting on their hip waders.

The first-year students recently returned from a two-week cross-country trip where they got behind-the-scenes tours of core manufacturing or production facilities at nine partner company sites in five states and Puerto Rico. In the Seattle area, students plunged into the trek experience with visits to three partner company sites—two of Boeing’s commercial aircraft assembly facilities in Everett and Renton, Ore., and Amazon’s new fulfillment center in DuPont, Wash . Read more...

Alumni Scholar profile

The Alumni Newsletter includes periodic first-person accounts by students who have benefited from an LGO Alumni Scholarship.


Ryan Bucher

Prior to getting into the LGO program, I worked for Boeing, first as an intern working on commercial airplanes in Everett, WA, and then full-time for five years as a space systems engineer in El Segundo, CA. It was there that I first learned about the LGO program and the unique experience that LGO provides its students to enhance their skills and provide the tools necessary to be future leaders within manufacturing and operations.

To get additional insight into the program, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet individually with LGO alums Noramay Cadena ’11 and Missy Brost ’09. Not only did these discussions help me understand whether the program was the best fit for me based on career goals and ambitions, but talking to them also gave me a sense of the strong passion and tight-knit community that the LGO program offers its students and alumni, affirming my decision to pursue an opportunity within LGO.

After getting into the program and receiving a LGO Alumni Scholarship, I truly understood the meaning and value of the LGO program. This scholarship was not only a significant financial contribution towards my education, but it also helped to reinforce the importance of community—something that I was excited to soon be a member of. Because of this, I have made it a priority to make the most of this opportunity both within LGO and the greater MIT community. In fact, as I write this, we begin our two-week Domestic Plant Trek, an honored tradition within the LGO program. I'm excited for this trip and the memories that will be made through this experience. It's these memories and others created while in LGO that I'm excited to be able to share with prospective students, similar to what Noramay and Missy did for me.

Thank you again for your contribution and support. It is an honor to be a recipient of the LGO Alumni Scholarship. I look forward to the opportunity to meet many of you, both while in the program and outside as well.

— Ryan Bucher, LGO '16

LGO Partner Job Postings

To connect LGO partner companies with potential LGO alumni job prospects, this year we’ve started a regular section listing LGO partner opportunities. If you work at a partner company and want to include a posting in this section, please contact Josh Jacobs.


For more information on any of these positions, please email Brent Gibbons at bgibbon@amazon.com.

Director, ACES: The Director of Amazon Customer Excellence System (ACES) is responsible for implementing the ACES system enabling Amazon’s Fulfillment Operations to benefit from the productivity gains available via data-based Continuous Improvement programs.

In this role, you will develop and lead a team that identifies, creates, develops and integrates innovative solutions and programs that lead to operational improvements. This highly visible position has primary leadership responsibility for implementing continuous improvement, standardization and best practice development across Amazon’s Operations. This position must exercise considerable judgment in the identification and execution of strategic continuous improvement plans and the tactical project implementation and completion process. The position requires a candidate with the proven leadership ability to facilitate and guide the application of ACES methods to process improvements with impeccable quality levels in an organization with explosive growth.

Operations Research Leader (Optimization): As an OR scientist, you will be responsible for designing and implementing solution strategies for a wide range of routing and optimization improvements throughout the Amazon supply chain. A successful candidate should have a background in mathematical optimization, including numerical solution of continuous and discrete problems using exact, approximation algorithms, and heuristic methods.

Engineering Leadership: As an Amazon engineer, you will work with the most talented engineers in the design and development of physical fulfillment systems around the globe. A successful candidate will have an established background in creating high-performance physical systems, a strong technical problem-solving ability, excellent project management skills, and an internal motivation to achieve results in a fast-paced and often ambiguous environment. Leaders at Amazon are tasked with developing and mentoring the next generation of leadership in our company. Your management abilities will be put to the test in our environment. Amazon’s culture encourages innovation and expects engineers and managers alike to take a high level of ownership of the solution of complex problems.

Head of Social Responsibility: As a global company, Amazon takes corporate social responsibility, environmental issues and business ethics seriously. The Head of Social Responsibility will help to ensure that the products that Amazon sells are safe for our customers, for the environment, and for the people who make them, handle them and transport them. This leader will continue to build processes and solutions to uphold our values and enable us to partner with Amazon business owners, operators and suppliers to ensure our ecosystem adheres to the highest ethical standards.

The Head of Social Responsibility will engage with cross-functional teams to define and develop product and social responsibility requirements and solutions in the areas of product manufacturing, Amazon operations, and our supply chains. This executive will be responsible for envisioning and executing globally all operational aspects of this program, and will influence long-term strategy decisions by determining how Amazon incorporates social responsibility into future supply chain strategies and areas of business growth. This leader will be influential, persuasive, a strong operator, and able to forge strong partnerships internally and externally. This leader will look for every opportunity to automate social responsibility systems using innovative technology solutions.


Inventory Analytics Manager

At Nike, we are always on the offense, and we are looking for an experienced Inventory Analytics Manager with a passion for data and analytics to join our new and quickly growing Safety Stock Center of Excellence. As an Inventory Analytics Manager, you will enable Nike's leap to data insights by analyzing a diverse portfolio of product and industry data and collaborating with cross-functional partners to ensure awareness of and commitment to excellence of inventory and service performance. You will be setting the foundation for Nike’s ability to serve the consumer and evolving the way Nike meets true market demand. This is a unique opportunity to help craft Nike’s future by driving desired outcomes through transparency, metrics, and scalable and sustainable processes for global expansion.

Interested candidates should send their resume to Meredith.Norris@nike.com and Jessica.McCoy@nike.com.

Knowledge Transfer

When you click on the Internship page on the LGO website, you’ll find detailed profiles of recent LGO internships to show you examples of LGO projects and the results they achieve.

The internships are organized into seven categories:

  • Capacity and production planning
  • Energy and sustainability
  • Lean operations
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Product development
  • Sourcing
  • Supply chain

Each section includes profiles of two internships with information on the students’ approach, project impact and MIT faculty participation. New profiles will be posted on a regular basis.

This month’s newsletter will feature two projects focused on process improvement at LGO partners Amgen and Pfizer. Steve Fuller worked in a factory that was acquired by Amgen, where he leveraged SPC for continuous improvements of the manufacturing process. Ryan Shofnos at Pfizer worked on modeling the use of automation and process optimization to understand the impact on cell line development.

If you have companies or areas of research you are interested in having highlighted in the monthly news, please contact Ted Equi (tedequi@mit.edu).

Name: Stephen Fuller

Stephen Fuller

Company: Amgen
Supervisors: Dave Stadolnik, Stephen Arboleda
Academic Advisors: Bruce Cameron, Lecturer in Engineering Systems; Tauhid Zaman, Assistant Professor of Operations Management

Title: Leveraging Statistical Process Control (SPC) for Continuous Improvement of the Manufacturing Process


Amgen’s acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals was completed in October 2013. As part of the integration process, Onyx is required to establish a Continued Process Verification (CPV) program, a Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency requirement. Therefore, compliance is a driver at both a regulatory and an integration level. CPV is a continual process that ensures the manufacturing process remains in a state of control. The problem involves how best to establish CPV at Onyx given the following considerations. There is an established CPV program at Amgen based on existing monitoring processes, infrastructure and reports that is currently in transition. Onyx and Amgen have different organizational structures. As a result, Onyx must redirect or add resources to establish and maintain a CPV program.

The goal of the project is a proposal that establishes CPV at Onyx and addresses the considerations listed above. The approach to accomplish this goal involved first defining the requirements of the CPV program. To address compliance aspects of the project, the approach involved analyzing the available data, creating data models using data from commercial lots, and implementing Statistical Process Control (SPC) tools to evaluate the data for signals of unwanted variability. To address limited resources, the approach involved the application of Akaike Information Criteria (AIC) to more accurately set control limits and reduce unnecessary investigations of false signals. Finally, to address different organizational structures and Amgen’s transitioning CPV program, the approach involved developing a streamlined process that facilitates continuous improvement of the manufacturing process.

The approach described above led to two critical conclusions: (1) the proposal of a streamlined CPV program at Onyx shows that the existing program at Amgen can be streamlined as well and doing so will allow for more comprehensive understanding and improvement of the manufacturing process; and (2) there are opportunities to remove waste in the data monitoring and evaluation processes of CPV (namely, the method for setting control limits is a source of false signals and unnecessary investigations).

The project had several benefits for Amgen and Onyx. In addition to a proposal for establishing CPV at Onyx, Amgen can use the strategy developed for Onyx in the integration of future acquisitions. Additionally, Amgen has a method to more objectively set control limits that reduces the number of unnecessary investigations. The establishment of CPV at Onyx can help prevent disruptions to the manufacturing process, minimizing risk of supply to the market.

Name: Ryan Shofnos

Ryan Shofnos

Company: Pfizer, Inc.
Supervisor: Pamela Pegman
Academic Advisors: Retsef Levi, Associate professor of Operations Management; J. Christopher Love, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering

Title: Modeling the Impact of Automation and Process Optimization on Cell Line Development


The development and commercialization of biologic-based human therapies is a significant engineering and financial investment that spans close to 10 years and more than $1B. A critical phase of the development lifecycle is cell line development (CLD), which is the creation and selection of a clonal cell line that will ultimately manufacture the biologic drug substance for clinical trials and commercial distribution. Reaching clinical trials quickly enables early assessment of the efficacy of the potential new drug. The CLD group operates as the bridge between molecular discovery and this clinical supply stage. It is therefore a critical step towards generating the material needed for clinical studies.

This effort investigated methods to increase capacity and throughput of this process while maintaining current staffing. The primary benefits include the ability to develop more drugs simultaneously with a constant workforce, a timeline reduction between molecular discovery and clinical drug supply, and reduced variation in project timelines and workload. This project includes a model that characterizes each process step and evaluates methods to redesign and automate them at sufficiently low cost. The model incorporates administrative, financial, and operational inputs such as available full-time employees, procedural dependencies, and several automation options. Its outputs include the overall cycle time, utilization, and operating costs, and the strategic benefits and/or risks relative to the current state. The optimum scenario identified by this research has the potential to reduce cycle time by 13 percent and workload by 41 percent while maintaining headcount.

Student Bloggers

Please make our student blogs a regular part of your reading about LGO. If you’re interested in the current state of the program, these blogs are a great place to start.

  • Tamara Belkina ’16 reflected on Domestic Plant Trek, when she and her classmates visited PG&E, Raytheon, GM and Amgen. Tamara particularly was impressed by PG&E’s nuclear power plant, Raytheon and General Motors.
  • John Kang ’15 blogged about IAP courses he took during January including Distributed Leadership, Conflict Management, Mechanical Assemblies, and Military Leadership courses.
  • Yalu Wu ’15 gave an overview of her classes and explained why she thinks it’s important to focus on operations classes.
  • Elizabeth Ohrt ’16 is excited about her upcoming “click-to ship” internship project at Amazon Fresh Fulfillment Center. She was also impressed with the LGO Global Leadership Seminar talk by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and the humor he infused into his presentation. Elizabeth also noted that she is happy to be part of the MIT Energy Conference.

Give to LGO

The Alumni page of the LGO website explains how your donation to one of our alumni gift funs will benefit current and future students.

Alumni Reference Information

Log in to the Virtual Community to see LGO alumni information, find other alumni, update your information, or find theses. If you have trouble getting in, contact lgosdmvc@mit.edu or use the "forgot password" button. If the email address you submit is in our system, your username and password will be sent to you.

Josh Jacobs, LGO Director of Operations and Partner Integration (jsjacobs@mit.edu, 617-253-2959).