Steve Sashihara’s visit to CMU

(Originally posted at the CMU INFORMS website).

On April 5 we had the honor to welcome Steve Sashihara to Carnegie Mellon University. Steve kindly accepted the invitation to speak to our INFORMS Student Chapter, which was possible through the INFORMS Speakers Program. We also got great support from the Tepper School of Business community: staff help, faculty support from attending the talk to helping with costs, and engaged MBA students. The MBA Data Analytics Club and the MBA Consulting Club helped with planning and advertising the talk. They also paid and organized a happy hour with Steve afterwards.

Steve is co-founder and CEO of Princeton Consultants, a unique blend of optimization and predictive analytics, data science and management consulting to help businesses achieve transformational improvement in service and efficiency. He authored The Optimization Edge: Reinventing Decision Making to Maximize All Your Company’s Assets (McGraw Hill), the first book to explain optimization without jargon or mathematics to a general business executive. He is also a Princeton University graduate and serves at the advisory council for the university’s department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE).

Upon arriving at CMU, Steve was welcomed by a group of PhD students from the Chemical Engineering department and the Tepper Business School.

A-coffeeFrom left to right: Alex Kazachkov (Tepper), Markus Drouven (ChemE), Nam Ho-Nguyen (Tepper),
Cristiana Lopes Lara (ChemE), Thiago Serra (Tepper), Steve Sashihara, Yash Puranik (ChemE).

Steve’s talk was held at the Tepper School of Business, where we had 63 attendees among faculty members, MBA and PhD students from CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, and also some practitioners from the Pittsburgh area.


Here are some tweets from the talk:

Steve is particularly interested in the human side of optimization. In his view, you should never try to settle an argument in a project by saying ‘Trust me: I am a PhD’. Having a PhD only goes as far as saying that you master a specific area of knowledge, not that you possess a complete and perfect systemic view of what is going on. His talk was permeated with insights like that, which are important but often absent from the quantitative training of MBA and PhD students in our field. The talk was then followed by a happy hour at Johny O’s, where he was able to continue answering questions and engaging with his avid audience. Kudos to the MBA students for the prime venue!

Another tweet:

I am particularly fond of the last picture that we took because it tells the story of our chapter. From right to left, Alex is the chapter founder, I am the current president, Steve is our first industry speaker, and Nam will run for a leadership role in our upcoming election.


There is a thin line between success and failure. I believe that we did succeed, but that would not be possible if it were not by the help of many people in a lot of different ways, from logistics to funding: Michael Menche (Princeton Consultants), Barry List, Jeff Cohen (INFORMS), Lawrence Rapp (Tepper), Fatma Kilinc-Karzan (our faculty advisor), Gerard Cornuejols, Javier Pena, R. Ravi, Alan Scheller-Wolf, Nicola Secomandi, Mike Trick (Tepper faculty), David Dierker, Ben Ganzfried, JiaJia Zhang (Tepper MBA Data Analytics Club), Justin McMath (Tepper MBA Consulting Club), Christopher Boccio, Nam Ho-Nguyen, Alex Kazachkov, David Sandora, Siddarth Singh, Christian Tjandraatmadja (CMU INFORMS). And, of course, Steve for accepting our invitation and giving a great talk!

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