Malbec and the Mambo: Professor Kazaz Brings Innovation to Industry and Teaching 

To bottle or barrel? That is the question examined by Whitman’s Burak Kazaz, associate professor of supply chain management, and his co-authors in a paper recently accepted in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management.

“Our work is significant as it is perceived as the first of its kind in pricing wine futures with accuracy,” said Kazaz, who worked with Tim Noparumpa Ph.D. ’12 and Scott Webster, a former Whitman faculty member, to study the impact of wine tasting experts and their reviews on the selling of wine before it is bottled.

“The study is groundbreaking for smaller artisanal and boutique wineries, because it represents a way for them to maximize their cash flow and profits, thereby allowing for more innovation,” explained Kazaz. “We were able to demonstrate that one such winery in the New York Finger Lakes region should allocate a significantly larger percentage of its wine as futures, allowing the winemaker to recover its cash investment earlier and reduce risk.”

Conducting industry-advancing research was one of the draws for Kazaz when he left the University of Miami for Whitman in 2007. His research to help businesses mitigate supply chain risks has received funds from such companies as IBM, Abbott Labs and British Petroleum.

As executive director of Whitman’s H.H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management, the first center for supply chain management in the nation, he works to build partnerships between industry and academia. Currently, Kazaz is the principal investigator for two research programs sponsored by Staples. He is working with six professors and 19 students to develop a new supply chain risk assessment method for the company and to create operational efficiency in its fulfillment center operations.

A native of Turkey, Kazaz came to the U.S. to pursue his Ph.D. at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Prior to Miami, he taught at Loyola University Chicago.

Students in Kazaz’s undergraduate supply chain management class learn their subject by reading a book about people taking dance lessons. The Mambo is Kazaz’s unpublished manuscript in which he tells stories about young professionals who attend a Friday evening dance class and share their problems at work and in life.

“Burak is very effective at explaining concepts and making them easy to understand,” says Noemie Lefebvre ’11, an appraiser at CoteImmobilière and former supply chain analyst for L’Oreal. “With the help of The Mambo, he shows the purpose of supply chain and how to solve real problems seen in various companies.”

“I work to bring the human element to the teaching of supply chain management,” said Kazaz. “I find that students feel more at ease in carrying out quantitative analysis when the problem is no longer so abstract.”

Kazaz’s teaching methods have drawn Syracuse University’s highest teaching accolade. In 2012, he became the first Whitman faculty member named a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence. In 2011, he received the first Whitman School of Management Teaching Innovation Award.

In addition to undergraduate supply chain management, Kazaz also teaches MBA and online MBA courses on global supply chain issues and a doctoral seminar focusing on a risk management perspective.

Being a good mentor to doctoral students is one of Kazaz’s highest goals. “To me, great teachers have time for their students, care about their learning experience and invest in their future,” shared Kazaz. “That is the professor I strive to be every day.”