A supply chain of teaching excellence
Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year has expectations for and total commitment to his students
By Chris Horn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-3687
Students in the Moore School of Business quickly learn that maximum effort on their part is a co-requisite for courses taught by Sanjay Ahire. They soon discover that the return on their investment is even higher.
Ahire joined the management science faculty at the Moore School in 2006 and has played a leading role in reengineering the curriculum of the operations and supply chain program. Those efforts have helped the program achieve a No. 5 ranking among all undergraduate supply chain programs in North America (2020 Gartner Research Rankings), and OSC graduates often receive six-figure starting salaries.
Those are noteworthy program achievements, but it was something more organic — Ahire’s commitment to teaching excellence and mentoring — that led to his selection as this year’s Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year award. Ahire is the first Moore School professor selected for the award since 1995.
My story is not the first one nor will it be the last one of how many OSC students’ lives have been transformed positively by Dr. Ahire’s competence and passion to make his students the best in operations and supply chain careers.
Casey Tilles, '18
“My teaching philosophy stems from the firm belief that undergraduate students are capable of much higher performance but are often victims of low expectations,” Ahire says. “I expect my students to view me not as an entertainer but as someone who will make sure they are career-ready in concrete ways with skills and practiced competencies.
“Most importantly, I give them specific examples of how everything they learn in my courses will be applied in specific situations they will encounter in their careers and provide high-quality experiences to students through field projects to practice competentcies before graduation.”
Ahire’s former students affirm his promise to build their skills and competencies.
“I directly attribute my success at Intel to the outstanding facets of USC’s OSC program (designed and implemented by Dr. Ahire), and even more specifically to Dr. Ahire’s courses that provided both skills and perspectives, and his sustained mentoring and guidance,” wrote Maria Baptiste, ’13, in a letter nominating Ahire for the award.
Brielle Kolf, a 2017 OSC graduate, says Ahire’s rigorous courses and tireless mentoring transformed her career trajectory.
“During my first year at IBM I could immediately tell I was far more prepared professionally and academically than my peers,” Kolf wrote in her nomination letter. “Reflecting on my experiences from that first introductory class with Dr. Ahire all the way to graduation, I can definitively say that Dr. Ahire’s influence in my education was truly pivotal. He transforms young business students into competitive job candidates [whom] companies seek out.”
Ahire grew up attending schools in the colonial Indian education system, which stressed rote memorization. He excelled but realized there was little opportunity for critical thinking. N.R. Sahastrabuddhe, his school principal and an award-winning teacher, however, brought a dimension of excitement and intellectual curiosity to the classroom that Ahire and his peers found compelling.
“He was one of the most enchanting instructors — we didn’t want to miss a word that he spoke. He was not only good at what he knew, but he knew how to articulate it, and he knew how to excite and create the same passion in students,” Ahire says. “And that is the basis of my teaching today.”
My teaching philosophy stems from the firm belief that undergraduate students are capable of much higher performance but are often victims of low expectations.
In addition to leading the redesign of the OSC curriculum and teaching many of its courses, Ahire has expanded the Operations Supply Chain Consulting Center to include many Fortune 500 companies. More than 290 projects have been executed through faculty-mentored student capstone projects, resulting in more than $280 million in client-validated savings. Ahire has led or co-led more than 100 of those projects.
“We entered into the collaboration with USC-OSC not knowing what to expect,” wrote Donna Isgett, CEO of McLeod Health in South Carolina. “We now strongly believe in the quality of the program, students and Dr. Ahire’s ability to not just teach students excellent contemporary techniques and concepts of process improvement in the classroom, but also to transform them into successful professionals through actual application of these tools to help actual complex organizations like ours.”
Ahire’s commitment to his students and the OSC program’s consulting clients is well documented, but his dedication hasn’t short circuited his own scholarship.
“He has found synergies between teaching, practice and scholarly research that have allowed him to perform scholarly research of the highest caliber,” says Mark Ferguson, senior associate dean for academics and research at the Moore School. “Sanjay is one of the top 10 most-cited researchers from the Darla Moore School of Business. One of his research papers was recently felicitated as the 5th most cited research article published over the 50-year publication history of Decision Sciences Journal, a highly respected scholarly journal in our field.”
Research, teaching and service — Ahire can check all three boxes, but teaching excellence is what alumni remember best. Casey Tilles is a 2018 OSC graduate and one of only six supply chain candidates across the nation selected into the supply chain leadership development program at The Gap in 2018.
“My story is not the first one nor will it be the last one,” Tilles wrote, “of how many OSC students’ lives have been transformed positively by Dr. Ahire’s competence and passion to make his students the best in operations and supply chain careers.”
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