Allen GibsonBA Mathematics
My current role is instructor of statistics at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University. It is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences I have ever had. Teaching was always my preferred vocation, but I entered the teaching profession after a 30-year career in business. I certainly wouldn't recommend this path to everyone who wants to teach, but I think the experience has made me a much more effective teacher!
While completing my Ph. D. dissertation, I followed the advice of my advisor to gain some practical experience before entering the teaching profession. I began my business career at Bell Laboratories developing applications to telephone company plant. For example, I modeled field operations using Semi-Markov processes in order to evaluate the effectiveness of changes to the way operations were conducted. Together with two of my colleagues, a linear programming algorithm was developed to determine the conditions under which it most economical to increase the size of telephone facilities instead of prolonging the life of the facilities by continually making costly rearrangements. I was rewarded professionally by the publication of several papers in these subjects. The most valuable â€œlifeâ€ lesson during this period was learning to communicate effectively with people in management and other disciplines such as engineering.
Subsequently, I transferred to AT&T where my initial assignment involved demand forecasting for AT&T long-distance services. My job was to analyze the potential demand and revenue impact of a planned major tariff restructure. I developed several probabilistic demand models that combined both market research and time series models to determine the likely demand impacts. It was particularly rewarding to participate in the large team effort to recommend a new rate structure. The most rewarding experience, however, came several years after the work was completed. In trying to explain unusual changes in AT&T's demand patterns, it was discovered that the changes were exactly the ones that my model had predicted several years earlier!
While enjoying my work at AT&T, I was forced to confront a decision that faces many professionals: whether to continue doing the professional work I was trained for and loved, or to accept the opportunity to develop as a technical manager. I chose to become a manager, my first responsibility being to manage a group of about 20 people responsible for market research and forecasting for AT&T's new data communications services. The remainder of my career was spent supporting the technical work of others instead of doing my own.
Upon retirement from AT&T, I was very fortunate to enter college teaching. Although difficult at first after my long absence from academics, the experience has been extremely satisfying. I enjoy the interaction with students and feel like I have more to contribute due to my business experience. I have also become aware of the potential for more collaboration between business and academia. As a step in this direction, I am editor of an annual volume of faculty abstracts entitled Publications of New Jersey's Business Faculty. The publication is supported by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association whose membership includes most New Jersey businesses.