A Tribute to Sushil K. Gupta collected from many contributors and composed by Martin K. Starr
The Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) created the POMS Distinguished Service Award in its annual meeting in Reno, April 29, 2011 to recognize contributions made by its members to the growth of the Society.
In its quest to identify the most deserving person to receive the first award, it was no surprise that the POMS Board, consisting of 28 people from around the world, unanimously and very enthusiastically voted in its meeting in Chicago, April 20, 2012, that the first POMS Distinguished Service Award should be given to Dr. Sushil K. Gupta, POMS Executive Director, Professor at Florida International University (FIU), USA. Sushil was presented with the award during the POMS awards ceremony luncheon on April 22, 2012 in Chicago.
Immediately after the award was given to Sushil, Dr. Luk Van Wassenhove, Professor at INSEAD, France, and past president of POMS, announced another unanimous decision of the POMS Board. Luk proclaimed that this is the first and the last POMS Distinguished Service Award. Starting now, the award will be known as the Sushil K. Gupta POMS Distinguished Service Award. All future POMS Distinguished Service awards will be named after Sushil to honor him for his dedicated services to POMS.
All of you know that Sushil has been the Executive Director of POMS since 1995. However, many of you may not know, in the words of Dr. Kalyan Singhal, the Founder of POMS, "Sushil was one of the three individuals who signed the original charter of POMS. He has been working with a missionary's zeal since Day 1." Sushil has been the POMS Vice President of membership and then POMS President. He was elected a POMS Fellow in 2004 - the first year when the POMS Fellowship was instituted.
Sushil has held senior administrative positions at FIU, including Vice Provost of Academic affairs. In the words of Dr. Modesto (Mitch) A. Maidique, President Emeritus of Florida International University, â€œI cannot think of a more deserving person to have this honor bestowed upon. In his work at FIU he has showed great intelligence, dedication, and professionalism and I have enjoyed working with him and look forward to continuing to do so.â€
Sushil has superb administrative skills that have led POMS to grow in size, become a stronger society, and truly international in scope. Sushil has been involved in the planning and execution of all major POMS initiatives like increasing membership, establishment of awards, creation of colleges and regional chapters, POMS conferences, publications and web development. He has worked successfully and continuously with a diverse constituency from around the globe.
Dr. Luk Van Wassenhove epitomizes Sushilâ€™s role in POMS with the following comments: "Sushil is POMS and POMS is Sushil. To paraphrase "behind every successful president there is a strong Sushil".â€ it would not have been possible for me to act as president without Sushil, and that is true for many other activities or roles within the Society.â€
Many of POMS presidents, in personal emails, have expressed similar sentiments. A selected few of these are included below.
In his appreciative tributary statement, Dr. Gabriel Bitran (MIT) observes: â€œI am delighted that Sushil is receiving this most deserved honor. He has been a pillar of POMS and was of great help to me during my tenure as President. I have the greatest admiration for him; his dedication to POMS makes us all indebted to him. In addition to his outstanding service contributions to the OM community, he is also a delightful human being. I have had the privilege of having him as a friend for over thirty years.â€
Dr. Wickham Skinner (Harvard Business School) recalls Sushilâ€™s perseverance in making things happen. Wick recollects: â€œI remember how important Sushil was in my decision to accept being an officer in POMS. He was quietly persistent, low key, and completely credible. No exaggerations or hyperbole; just encouraging about what was going on and how I could help. And when I showed up at my first meeting, he dropped everything, it seemed, to welcome me and introduce me all around, in a very selfless, modest and mild, genuine way. His placid yet discerning and keen ways of doing business set a good example for POMS and has built an atmosphere of genuine service to each other that I think has characterized the POM Society.â€
Dr. Chris Tang (UCLA), POMS President-elect, has captured the magic in the following statements: â€œSushil's dedication to POMS is unsurpassed. No matter how big or how small the issues are, Sushil is always available to help providing me with insightful suggestions and help solving any problems. When I was asked to serve as conference chair of the POMS Chicago meeting, Sushil was available to discuss various issues many times over the phone or via email 7 days a week. Sushil's commitment to serve POMS is contagious. Sushil has boundless of energy with the can-do attitude, which makes me feel connected to POMS and, more importantly, believe in POMS's causes. Sushil is so good that I can only say "yes" to him!â€
The recognition of Sushil Gupta is personally significant for a lot of us who have served POMS in one way or another over a long period of time. Roger Schmennerâ€™s note below demonstrates the personal as well as the administrative experiences we have all enjoyed in working with Sushil - truly a Renaissance Man.
Dr. Roger Schmenner (Indiana) states: â€œI had the pleasure of succeeding Sushil as president of POMS in 1997. The Society was still young then, but growing, and I needed help in coming to grips with my new role. I flew to Miami in the first weeks of January 1997 and Sushil graciously spent much of a full day filling me in about POMS and its administration. It was a lifesaver.
Later that year, in April, came the POMS annual meeting in Miami. Sushil was the organizer and I was able to take some mental notes from what he did there. It was at that meeting that we rolled out the big practical innovation of my time as president, the POMS website. Sushil was instrumental to it. While we hosted the website at Indiana for several years, the bulk of the content was generated in Miami, through Sushil and the home office. It still is the center of POMS's web presence.
At the Miami annual meeting in 1997, we approved both the 1998 annual meeting in Santa Fe, for which I was the chairman, and the international meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, for which Norman Faull did such a marvelous job. Bringing off both of those meetings within months of one another was no small feat, and Sushil was at the heart of it. He was a go-to guy for a number of things, and you could always count on him for last-minute help.
My wife and I will always remember the safari that we took after the Cape Town meeting in Krueger National Park. Sushil and his wife were among the dozen of us in the van, spending 3 days in the park. It was a delight to be able to relax, at last, and to share some absolutely magnificent sights with them.â€
In addition to the comments received from POMSâ€™ leaders, Sushil has been sent many congratulatory emails from all over the world. The following message from Susana Pereira and Luis Henrique Pereira (FGV, Brazil) captures the essence of these sentiments from POMS members.
â€œYou deserve this award and deserve to be honored by the whole POM community. You have always done such a great job for POMS community. You are recognized as a great academic. But most of all you are recognized as a respectful, very dedicated person who is always ready to hear and to help. We have a great admiration for you. We cannot think of POMS without thinking of you. It has been such a great pleasure to know you and to meet you every year doing a great job at POMS Conference. Thank you for all your dedication and great work in POMS.â€
During his message to the conference attendees at the awards luncheon, Sushil said "POMS is more than a Society. It is the Professional Home for all of us - who are involved in POM research and teaching." Sushil thanked his wife Lalita, the only individual who has â€œcompetedâ€ with POMS to get his attention, for providing him support during the last two decades in carrying out POMSâ€™ work. He invited Lalita to join him on the stage in receiving the award. In fact, this was a tribute to the families of POMS members who spend their time unselfishly for the cause of POMS. Sushil holds the firm belief that our families contribute a lot to POMS by providing help and support to us â€“ the POMS volunteers.
I fully agree with Sushil. This powerful vision of POMS will continue to make POMS bigger, better and stronger. It is an honor to be afforded the opportunity to compose this tribute to a great friend and colleague.
Martin K. Starr
Sushil's email is firstname.lastname@example.org, in case you want to congratulate him. A video clip of the awards ceremony (about 9 minutes) can be viewed at the following link: Honoring Sushil K. Gupta