New Information Management Curriculum Has Real World Appeal
January 11, 2016
Cecilia Shea ’83, Director of IT Services for the Americas with SABIC (Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Company), values students whose studies include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions and SAP (Systems, Applications and Products) tools and strategies. They have a decided advantage, she says, over students from business schools that do not offer that experience. “Those skill sets differentiate Isenberg and its students and are incredibly valuable to employers,” she insists.
A member of Isenberg’s Operations & Information Management program’s Advisory Board, Cecilia applauds the department’s recent investment in its information management curriculum. Shea also advocates internships and real world practicums for Isenberg students. “They confer competency and confidence and immerse the students in business cultures,” she notes.
Partnerships with Academe
Shea, who regularly visits and recruits at Isenberg and UMass Amherst, notes that SABIC recognizes the value of university Ph.D. research. “For us, leveraging Big Data is a critical asset,” she says. Ranked in 2014 by Fortune Global 500 as fourth among the world’s chemical companies and 205th among its corporations, SABIC is in over 40 countries. Cecilia notes that “strategic partnerships are going to change the game; they go way beyond the buzzword of Big Data. By investing in technologies that help collect data on university Ph.D. research, companies can make better decisions on where to fund innovation and spend their technology dollars.”
Cecilia is a member of SABIC’s global IT leadership team as well as her strategic business unit’s job evaluation, pension benefits, and crisis management teams. Previously, she was global IT Leader for GE Plastics. SABIC purchased GE Plastics in 2007. SABIC’s business model includes chemicals, commoditized polymers, value-added specialty plastics, agri-nutrients, and metals.
Major change lies ahead, notes Shea, when SABIC restructures its business units in January. Mid-year, the company plans to exit its Pittsfield operations, moving some of its employees, including Shea, to Houston. In 2017, the company will consolidate development of high-margin specialty plastics into its Selkirk, New York facility, which will merge materials science, process engineering, and development of applications. (Selkirk is 40 miles west of Pittsfield.)
Will Shea, who has been an ardent recruiter of Isenberg and UMass students, be a less-frequent visitor to Amherst? “I plan to be back quite often,” she says. “I am deeply committed to Isenberg and UMass. The proven quality of the programs and graduates will remain an asset to our company.”