Kenneth Ip

Country of origin: Hong Kong

Operations Analyst, UPS Supply Chain Solutions

Following my first degree – in engineering – I became an officer for an international container terminal. In this job I learned that operational research (OR) would be the way to enhance my analytical skills and problem-solving capability when dealing with complicated projects.

I was attracted by the high research and teaching ratings and the well-established structure of the MSc in Operational Research at Lancaster University Management School. The MSc project and dissertation was a very attractive feature of the course, and for me this involved working for British Telecom in London on an Internet analysis project. The experience during the project was a great learning platform – it helped me get to know about the application of OR methodologies and also about management expectations.

Taking the MSc in OR at Lancaster proved to be the right decision – and most importantly – it became the foundation for me to develop a professional career in OR.

After graduating from the MSc in OR at Lancaster, I worked for two years in corporate planning and investments for a blue-chip company in Hong Kong. My roles included the business analysis and development of infrastructure and logistics projects. More specifically, I was responsible for the quantitative analysis on the demand forecast and productivity, and hence the resources planning to cope with the growth of the businesses - these included container terminal, river trade terminal, warehousing and third party logistics subsidiaries. I was also involved in operational reviews for the companies. I found that OR is really applicable in many areas – helping me to handle different project scopes in logistics, finance, purchasing, management, business development etc., and develop a clear picture through which I could make an appropriate judgment - using OR tools such as inventory modeling, forecasting and queueing.

I am now working within the industrial engineering department of UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and I mainly focus on the analysis work to support management decisions and company strategies. It is a really challenging job – I always need to find the right balance between cost, time and resources with sound and quantitative support. The projects cover statistical analysis (operations & productivity analysis), re-engineering (cost minimization), and feasibility studies. I also help to set up new processes, and workflow and performance measurements for new customers. With the application of VBA Modeling and OR methodologies, I can perform efficient and accurate data analysis on the projects. And sometimes, when I am puzzled by complicated problems, I often refer to my OR materials and invariably find a solution.

OR is a broad subject that can be applied in many different job functions. But it also provides a deeper understanding of problems, and really helps when you are trying to figure out what the solution is. I am so glad that I developed myself as an OR professional. I became an Associate Fellow of Operational Research (AFORS) in 2004 and am sure I will progress further in my OR career.