Five Questions With Soudipta Chakraborty
In our Five Questions series, faculty of the University of Kansas School of Business share their insights, experiences and advice for students.
Soudipta Chakraborty is an assistant professor of supply chain management. He received his bachelor’s in manufacturing science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology and his doctorate in operations management from Duke University.
In addition to supply chain, Chakraborty has a teaching interest in business analytics. His research interests include business model innovation, operations of online platforms and startup firms and the implications of consumer behavior on operations.
What got you interested in your field, and what is the most rewarding part of being involved in it?
I was an engineering major and applied for a summer research program in my junior year. Serendipitously, instead of working on an engineering project as I had hoped, I got to work on optimization algorithms that were motivated by how an organization can manage their operations more effectively. I was immediately hooked and decided to pursue an academic career in operations management.
Supply chain management (and more broadly operations management) studies how both for-profit and non-profit organizations plan their actions to be more efficient: decrease cost, increase profit, reduce waste, serve more people within capacity, etc. The shortages of essential products and medical equipment throughout the pandemic and the logistical challenges around vaccine distribution highlight the important role of such decisions. The opportunity to work on research questions that touch our everyday life is what I find most rewarding.
What is your favorite part about being a Jayhawk?
I am truly humbled to be a part of such a renowned institution as KU. The idyllic campus away from a big city reminds me of my own time in the college. I am also a big basketball fan. Rock Chalk!
What would you see yourself doing if you weren’t a professor?
I love to think about making things more efficient and about “optimal” decision making. Hence, I would most likely be working in the consulting industry. But who knows? I also love cooking and baking, and often daydream about opening a restaurant someday!
What advice would you give your college self?
My advice would be that while it is always good to have a plan, it is also very important to be open to possibilities and explore as many things as possible. It is very hard to foresee what path life would take!
If you could require students to read one thing before graduation (outside of your class reading), what would it be and why?
I would recommend everyone to read “Freakonomics’’ (and listen to their podcast series). This book attempts to explain a wide range of seemingly different phenomenon through simple economics arguments. This is one of the first books that made me interested in economics and opened my eyes to the breadth of this subject.
Given the trying times we are going through, I would also recommend everyone to listen to the “The Happiness Lab” podcast series by Professor Laurie Santos of Yale University. In this series, Prof. Santos discusses evidence-based, simple and easy-to-follow approaches to take care of our mental health and well-being and increase our happiness.
By Meaghan Boyd