F. Brian Talbot
Professor Emeritus of Business Administration
Professor Emeritus of Operations and Management Science
Thirty-nine years ago, Brian Talbot decided to give up a high profile job in the private sector for a career in academia at the University of Michigan. His current research focuses on the development of heuristic and optimal solution procedures for production and manpower planning, vehicle loading and resource-constrained scheduling problems. He is also investigating issues in industrial ecology, green manufacturing and sustainable supply chains.
Talbot completed his PhD at The Pennsylvania State University, earned an MBA from the State University Of New York At Albany and a BA from State University Of New York At Buffalo.
How did you wind up at U-M?
My pathway to academia was indirect. After my MBA I was planning to work in industry and accepted a nice job in industrial engineering at the Procter & Gamble Ivorydale plant in Cincinnati in 1969. However, the Vietnam War was in full swing. I was drafted within months after accepting the position and spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. P&G treated me extremely well when I was in the service with care packages, etc., and they had an ever better job waiting for me at headquarters when I was discharged. However, while stationed at Dyess AF Base in Abilene, TX, I started teaching part-time at McMurry College. Near the end of my AF commitment, I decided I really liked teaching and the academic life style so I gave up a good job at P&G for an uncertain future in a PhD program.
I completed my PhD at Penn State in 1976 using the GI Bill and was hired by Prof. LaRue Hosmer at the University of Michigan Business School on January 1, 1977.
What qualities do the most talented business students share?
Virtually all the Ross students I have had the pleasure of interacting with over the years are bright and well trained. In my mind what typically distinguishes the best from the good are inquisitiveness, and a passion for adding value and continuous learning.
What experience or accomplishment do you feel has been the most significant in your career?
I don't know what the most significant accomplishment is. I'll let others decide that. I have had many wonderful experiences over the years, teaching, doing research, developing software, starting institutes, consulting and mentoring.
What are you working on now?
I haven't stopped advising MAP projects and Tauber projects. Last fall I advised five MAP projects in our Executive MBA program in Los Angeles and I am advising seven projects in our day MBA program now. I plan to advise Tauber projects again in summer 2016. I also continue to develop optimization algorithms and write code for various real-world integer programming problems.
If you hadn't become a professor, what would you have done professionally?
Very likely I would have had a career at P&G in manufacturing and supply chain management.
What is your hidden talent or secret passion?
No hidden talents or secret passions. You get what you see!