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Reflections on a first ORSSA Conference attendance

Updated: Apr 5

By Samantha Downing

Delegates representing Shoprite Holdings at ORSSA 2022.

This year was my first time attending the ORSSA Conference. For a while before the time I was quite intimidated by sharing the space, ideas and a platform with some of the brightest minds in our discipline. And now, looking back on the experience, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to expand my understanding and appreciation of Operations Research and its applications.

There was truly something to be gained by everyone, from all backgrounds and at every skill level. I found the plenary sessions very insightful, and these included talks from Dr. Lisa Scholten on Transdisciplinary OR to improve decision-making in the water sector, from Prof. Helena Ramalhindo on Optimisation for Social Good, and from Prof. Sara Grobbelaar on Systems thinking and the dynamics of innovation. In general, the talks ranged from soft OR techniques to modelling techniques to OR for social good and to optimisation methods.

A key aspect of the conference was the coming together of professionals from various industries and with diverse skill sets who could enrich each other's ways of thinking. The attendees had an openness to meet new people and participate in challenging discussions both during and after the conference. It was an honour to interact with experts in their respective fields and encouraging to see the increasing interaction between industry and academia. I definitely recommend attending the 2023 ORSSA Conference to anyone involved in Operations Research!

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