Keith Willoughby - Hanlon Scholar Visits Kenya

Release Date : January 04, 2012

Story by: Jessica Wallace

Photos: Courtesy of Keith Willoughby

Associate Dean Academic and Hanlon Scholar Keith Willoughby spent a week in Nairobi, Kenya in October to attend the 2011 Operations Research Society of Eastern Africa International Conference. This was the first year the Conference included an Operations Research Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium.  “They brought together four faculty members – three from the US and me – to deliver 90 minute plenary sessions on teaching effectiveness,” says Willoughby.

He spoke on the Comm 498 class at Edwards, where students do real projects with real clients including one with the Saskatoon Food Bank that garnered local attention. “I talked about some of the projects that the students did and I described the background of the Edwards School of Business and where this fits into our overall curriculum,” he explains. “I went into a lot of detail in terms of what I did to develop this course and about the operational running of the course. We allocated time for students to work on their projects but there was a variety of lectures that I would do on a just-in-time basis.”

Willoughby also linked the course to a growing initiative within the operations management field. “We’re trying to do more service-based learning or community work. Within Africa, that would be a compelling reason to want to do one of these projects – to give back to the communities. And I really saw, especially with the food bank project and some in the health industry, that we’re trying to help people experience better lives.”

While in Kenya, Willoughby also connected with the University of Nairobi School of Business. “I had the privilege to deliver a seminar to a group of undergraduate and MBA business students on some of the global aspects I’ve seen with lean process improvement in health care,” he says. “I tried to point out that this is a global phenomenon that can work its way into Africa. Despite the fact that in Africa there can be some different urgency and different prevalence than we might have in Canada or the US, there are ways to work within your defined system to ensure that you have structures in place that can improve the process for the patient.”

Willoughby says both his presentations sparked interesting discussion and many questions. “There was a lot of really good take up,” he says. “And it was a great chance to be able to communicate with students and faculty in an international context.” 

The Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies serves the Edwards School of Business to help build and provide global business awareness and related skills training opportunities for its commerce students.  For more information, contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (Hanlon Director) or Jessica Wallace / Brandon Ziola (Hanlon Media & Communications) by email at hanloncentre@edwards.usask.ca or telephone at (306) 966-1837.