LGO Alumni Newsletter November 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,

October was a whirlwind of recruiting partners, alumni, and students in our halls. At the same time we are ramping up to greet prospective applicants this week, laying the groundwork for the next LGO admissions cycle. Meanwhile, routes and partner companies for Domestic Plant Trek have been determined and student excitement is building. As always, we're very grateful for the generosity of our partners in hosting us.

Last month's Cambridge Superhero 5K run was dominated by Scott McArthur (LGO '17), who is the second LGO to win this race after Jeff Schacherl (LGO '16) last year. We are proud to have these students in our class (as well as their 94 classmates!). They are living examples of MIT’s world-famous motto, "Mens et Pedes." :-) Congratulations!

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

LGO News


Alumna at drone company to speak at Ambassador Day

The keynote speaker at LGO Ambassador Day on November 6 will be Elena Micich (LGO '08), VP Product at Panoptes Systems, a Cambridge-based technology startup that developed the first obstacle avoidance system for consumer drones. Read more...


Best-selling author McAfee says LGO program shaped his thinking

Andrew McAfee (LGO '90), co-author of The Second Machine Age, says LGO changed his worldview. Read more...

Alumni Scholar profile

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


Erin Golden

I was on a business trip in sunny San Diego on the Friday morning when I received Thomas’s call letting me know that I had been accepted into the LGO program. I distinctly remember trying to contain my excitement as he provided me with further details on my offer, which included an Alumni Scholarship. After we finished talking, I immediately called my parents to let them know the good news, and they could not have been more thrilled for me. I decided to take the rest of the day off, and spent the afternoon exploring the city and thinking about the next phase of my life: moving to Boston and continuing my education.

Since that call seven months ago, I have only reaffirmed that deciding to enter into the LGO program was the best decision I could have made. When I first began pursuing the idea of going back to school for a graduate degree, I knew I wanted to focus on operations. After spending four years working in downstream oil and gas supply chain roles, I was ready to take the next step and prepare myself to be able to effectively lead in managing the operations of an organization.

During my graduate program research process, I found a few programs that piqued my interest, but after attending Ambassador Day in 2014, I knew that LGO was the perfect fit for me.

Over my first LGO summer, I was challenged with coursework that continued to broaden my operations skillset while still managing to have time to make some great friends along the way. I was also able to attend multiple LGO alumni events that have helped me to see the impact that this program can have on my future career.

Now that the fall semester has begun, I have taken on a couple of leadership roles in various organizations, including co-chairing this year’s Ambassador Day program. I am looking forward to being able to share my experiences thus far with future LGO students and discuss with them all of the unique opportunities that this program provides.

The support of the LGO alumni community has been a truly rewarding part of my experience, and I sincerely thank you for providing me with the LGO Alumni Scholarship. I look forward to continuing to connect with more alumni during the rest of my time at MIT and beyond!

—Erin Golden '17

LGO Partner Job Openings


Head of Campus Store Operations

The Head of Campus Store Operations will lead Amazon’s first foray into permanent physical retail. Amazon Campus currently provides universities like Purdue and UC-Berkeley with a co-branded shopping experience, an on campus pickup point (CPP), and an Amazon Student Lounge, which houses a pickup desk, technology showroom, and meeting space. If you’re interested in building this new service from the ground up and revolutionizing the way students shop, please send a copy of your resume to Marci Engel, engmarci@amazon.com. To learn more, click here.

Global leader of Environmental Health & Safety

Amazon is seeking an innovative, passionate executive to lead our global worldwide Environmental Health and Safety leadership, preferably in a large global manufacturing or distribution environment. The EHS Director will head the global operations leadership team responsible for the continued development of Amazon’s strong safety culture in a fast-paced, high-performance, 24x7 global network of fulfillment centers, customer service sites, and transportation network.

As the Director of EHS WW Ops, you will:

  • Create, maintain, and drive execution of EHS vision and goals for Amazon worldwide
  • Develop long-term strategies and influences leadership decisions
  • Perform regular gap analysis to best justify funds for site safety improvements
  • Understand the safety and environmental responsibilities in each region where Amazon.com has operations
  • Oversee global safety performance metrics reporting and communication
  • Drive consistent communication, training, and execution of the Safety and Environmental Programs throughout the global operations network
  • Assess effectiveness of the deployed tools and revise to ensure continual improvement in the global implementation of best practices in safety and environmental matters
  • Drives partnership between corporate and field safety personnel to leverage global safety and environmental best practices into network standards
If interested, please contact Brent Gibbons, bgibbon@amazon.com.

Fulfillment Center General Manager

Amazon.com’s success is built on a foundation of customer obsession, and the GM of an Amazon Fulfillment Center is the last line of defense in the customer experience. The Fulfillment Center GM is an extraordinarily complex leadership role, requiring an executive to balance flawless daily execution with the long-term development of a team. The role requires a detailed understanding and ability to balance every operational component of a facility from employee needs to IT, from process technology to process improvement. A successful executive will be able to provide strong vision and direction for the team while fostering bottom-up input and participation in process improvement from all levels of the organization. The Fulfillment Center GM serves as the face of the organization to potentially thousands of employees and the entire community where the center is located. Our corporate leaders depend on the fulfillment centers to deliver the ultimate in customer experience and satisfaction, and it is a role that is taken extremely seriously throughout the company. Amazon’s field leadership roles manage facilities of 500,000 to 1.7 million square feet with 500 to 2,200 full-time hourly and salaried employees. At peak, these numbers will increase to 2.000 to 4.000. Many of our sites handle over $1B in revenue per year with a $45-90 million budget. If interested, please contact Brent Gibbons, bgibbon@amazon.com.

Fulfillment Center General Manager

The Head of EU Operations Engineering will drive the following:

  • Managing the engineering budget while ensuring the safe, timely, within-budget and on-spec installation and maintenance of all European equipment in new and existing facilities.
  • Building and mentoring a top-performing team of internal and external resources built around each key step in the engineering process; constantly challenging practices to ensure the group is consistently raising the bar on its performance
  • Generating and communicating operations engineering requirements; working with the operations, capacity planning, real estate, and supply chain teams to develop business requirement solutions for European facilities; and participating in the strategic global engineering effort.
  • Interfacing successfully with Amazon procurement to capitalize on existing programs and deliver expanded opportunities to drive overall engineering costs down.
  • Providing overall department leadership as principal-in-charge and liaison with suppliers, plus further expanding key partner relationships beyond the status quo.
  • Providing technical direction within engineering design/AutoCAD; building design, layouts, build details, schedules, line lists and materials
  • Negotiating contracts with vendors and presenting formal documentation for approval when required.
  • Being actively involved in risk analysis activities
  • Ensuring adherence to all health and safety procedures
See the robots that ship your Amazon package

We are ideally looking for someone who has lived and worked in Europe before, since this person supports major operations in seven countries. For more information or to apply, contact our recruiter Paola Tomatis, tomatisp@amazon.lu.

Knowledge Transfer

This month will feature a project on lean methods and a project on improved forecasting. At Amazon, Hugh Churchill focused on using lean methods to make cycle-time improvements within a distribution center. Evelyne Kong did her work on forecasting at Inditex/Zara. If you have companies or areas of research you are interested in having highlighted in the monthly news, please contact Ted Equi.

Cycle-time Analysis and Improvement Using Lean Methods within a Retail Distribution Center (Amazon)

Intern: Hugh E. Churchill II
Hugh E. Churchill II

Hugh E. Churchill II

Company Supervisor: Chris Askren
Academic Advisors: Brian Anthony and Stephen Graves

This project is based within Amazon’s consumer goods fulfillment network—specifically, at a fulfillment center (FC) that stores and ships soft-line products (Site A). Soft lines include apparel, shoes, jewelry, and watches. The fulfillment of these items poses unique operational challenges due to inventory placement, storage, packaging, product mix, and seasonal issues that are not seen in other product groups. Due to these nuances and their perceived effect on fulfillment cycle time (time to pick, pack, and load an order on a truck), the pick agreement time at Site A is set at 1.6 times the network standard. This pick agreement time is an important input into the algorithm that determines how much time a customer has to place an order and still receive it the next day (i.e., the longer the pick agreement time, the shorter the time window for shopping). Therefore, Site A’s long pick agreement time shortens the time window in which customers can order soft-line products, thus negatively impacting customer experience.

Amazon does not currently have a standard way to evaluate cycle time and provide the necessary data to lower pick agreement time. This project aims to address this issue in the following three ways: 1) baseline and compare current state cycle times within FCs; 2) identify process-related wastes at Site A; and 3) develop lean solutions to reduce cycle time at Site A.

Analysis of current cycle-time data for Site A and a comparison with other sites in the network supports an immediate reduction in pick agreement time by 15%, all else remaining equal in the process. A five-day trial reduction period in August confirmed this analysis. However, process improvements were still needed to bring pick agreement time further in line with the network standard. The project work developed the following recommendations:

  1. Standardize the pick process with a move closer to single piece flow.
  2. Reduce and control WIP levels prior to the pack process to reduce non-value-added wait time.
  3. Reduce batch size for critical items that must move through the facility the fastest.
  4. Rearrange process steps to allow completion in parallel rather than in series.

Although these recommendations are not yet implemented, they predict a reduction in cycle time needed to reduce pick agreement time by an additional 15%. The method for evaluating cycle time and the implementation of lean solutions introduced during this project are useful as a template for similar analyses throughout the Amazon FC network.

Cannibalization in Zara’s Stores and Sales Forecast (Inditex/Zara)

Intern: Evelyne Kong
Evelyne Kong

Evelyne Kong

Company Supervisors: Martín Nóvoa Vidal, Ane Insausti Altuna, and Iván Escudero Rial
Academic Advisors: Georgia Perakis and Bruce Cameron

Every year, Zara delivers more than 10,000 distinct product references to 1,600 stores across the world. To reduce stockouts and overstock at the end of each season, it is essential for the company to forecast accurately the demand in its stores. In Zara’s current demand forecasting method, products in the stores are considered independently of each other. This internship focuses on understanding the cannibalization and complementarity effects among products within a store. The results of the project are used to improve the store demand forecast at the product level and the replenishment decision-making process.

The following approach to the problem was adopted:

  • Collect data and build a new product classification. The project requires using store sales data and information collected by Zara’s new RFID system. It also calls for the creation of a new product classification to easily identify similar or unalike garments.
  • Develop, test and validate a model of the store demand and of the substitution and complementarity effects among articles. This step consists in reviewing the literature on product assortment and consumer choice and in developing methods to quantify substitution effects on the demand. The model focuses on substitution patterns based on similarities between products among the trousers product category.
  • Develop, test, and validate a sales forecast model at the product level. The most significant covariates determined in the step above are used to improve Zara’s current forecasting methods. Models must remain easy to implement into Zara’s existing tools and processes. Forecasts are made with the actual display information of the articles on the shop floor but also with estimated display information based on which articles were on the shop floor the previous week.

The model built for the project showed statistically significant substitution effects. It also accounts for the negative effect of a price increase on the sales of a product as well as substitution patterns between similar products with different prices. The display, availability factor, and price covariates proved to have the most explanatory power on the product demand variations and are used in the forecast model.

The proposed forecast model improves the accuracy of the demand forecast by 16% and 8% for the summer and winter seasons respectively in comparison with the current forecasting method for the trousers product category. With approximate display information, the new model still offers a wMAPE reduction of 11% and 5% over the current method, providing a significant improvement for Zara’s existing forecasting process.

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.

  • Carrie Beyer ’17 talked about the project for her Manufacturing Processes class, where she and six other LGOs built a remote-controlled car.

Give to LGO

The Alumni page of the LGO website explains how your donation to one of our alumni gift funds 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).