Onyi Nwafor ’11

Education:
B. Eng. – Electronic Engineering
University of Nigeria
March 2001

MS Management Information Systems
Texas A&M University
August 2011

Internship:
Valero Energy Cooperation
San Antonio, TX
Summer 2011

Current Position:
University of Houston; Houston, TX
2012 – Present
PhD Candidate; Graduate Research Assistant

What was your favorite MIS-related course at A&M? Actually, I had two favorite courses. The first was business process analysis and design (SCMT 645), taught by Dr. Ketzenberg. I enjoyed this course because of its holistic structure. The course touched on a wide range of topics that are invaluable to anyone interested in modeling and solving operational problems. Some of these topics include operations strategy, statistics, queuing theory, and business process simulation. The course also included case studies and a capstone project.

A second course that I enjoyed tremendously was information technology for supply chain management, taught by Dr. Heim. I enjoyed this course because it effectively combined two of my passions- technology and solving operational problems. Through case study discussions, the course exposed me to different types of information technologies that can help address different kinds of operations/supply chain problems. The course also exposed me various kinds of challenges associated with technology adoption and implementation. In addition, this course helped me a great deal with my business writing skills.

What do you feel was the most beneficial course you took at A&M? Why? I feel that the most beneficial course I took at A&M was business process analysis and design, taught by Dr. Ketzenberg.  The course exposed me to a  wide range of topics that are useful in addressing many operational problems from end-to-end. Some of these topics include operations strategy and the importance of its fit with an organization’s overall business strategy, statistics, queuing theory, and business process modeling (using the simulation software Extendsim). My favorite part of the course was that students had to work on a capstone project that required integration of all the concepts learned over the semester.

What advice would you have for someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree? I would have three pieces of advice for someone considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree.  First, I would urge the person to carefully consider his or her interests, motivation, and final career goals.  Graduate school can be challenging, and intrinsic motivation that stems from interest and hope for the future can help overcome of these challenges. Second, I would urge the person to weigh his or her  choice of  school carefully.  At a minimum, the school must offer the program of interest. Other considerations may include cost, family situation, prospect for job placement, etc. Third, I would urge the person to build a support system once in school. Talking to other students, faculty, and staff will make navigating graduate school much easier.

What were your internship responsibilities?  How did the MS-MIS program prepare you for this position?  I had an internship position as a business intelligence analyst in Valero Energy Cooperation. My responsibilities at Valero  included data mining, reporting, and data analysis to support the company’s operational excellence program. I worked primarily with SAP BusinessObjects – an enterprise business intelligence software.  The MS-MIS program prepared me for the internship in two ways. First, the program offered courses that helped me gain important functional and technical skills. Examples of such courses include enterprise resource planning, information technology for supply chain management, and business process analysis and design. Second, the program, through the career services office, helped me develop soft skills necessary for interviewing, presentation delivery, and professional conduct.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?  The biggest challenge I faced in graduate school was maintaining school-family balance.  Not only was I shuttling across continents to be with my young children as often as possible, I also suffered the loss of a family member.  It was a very difficult period in my life.  Fortunately, the MIS Student Services Office, under Ms. Sprayberry, was VERY supportive. They helped me with the process of obtaining a leave of absence and returning to school afterwards. With their help and support, I was able to complete the program successfully despite these hurdles.

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?  The biggest reward for earning an MS-MIS degree was the opportunity to pursue a PhD degree, in my school of choice.  I believe that a Master’s degree from A&M and strong referrals from the professors in the MIS program were instrumental in my getting the offer to pursue a PhD. I also developed friendships and important relationships that carry on till this day.

Describe your career to this point and what led you to your current position.  After graduating from A&M, I returned back to Africa to work as business consultant, focused on technology integration in supply chains. About a year afterwards, my spouse was transferred to Houston. I saw this transfer as an excellent opportunity to fulfill a long held personal goal of getting a PhD education, and subsequently  a career in academia. As a result, I enrolled in a doctoral program in the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.  My major is Operations & Supply Chain Management, and minor is MIS. I am now in my final year and I hope to graduate in a few months.  A consistent theme in the career choices that I have made since A&M concerns technology use in business operations. Although I have always been interested in technology, this interest was significantly reinforced by the courses I took at A&M as well as my internship experience.