5 minutes with… Aristides Matopoulos
Aris is a Reader in Supply Chain Design & Logistics Systems, at Aston University and a Visiting Professor at the University of Lille, in France. At Aston University he led the development of the Supply Chain Readiness Level Tool to assess the maturity and the capabilities of manufacturing supply chains. His research has appeared in the major Supply Chain Management/Logistics outlets. He has been involved in several research and consulting projects and as an external evaluator he has reviewed proposals for the French National Research Agency (ANR) and for the prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chairs (Government of Canada). He is also a regular invited speaker at international business conferences. In 2019 he was appointed a Royal Society Short Industry Fellow to collaborate with Williams Advanced Engineering in assessing group’s supply chain strategy.
How long have you been in the industry?
I was introduced to the world of Logistics and Supply Chains in 2000 during my postgraduate studies at Imperial College London. I was very privileged to be lectured by Prof. Andrew Fearne, who was an inspiration to me and changed completely my view of how firms’ supply chains function. Studying, researching, and understanding what makes supply chains successful became my passion and after about a dozen years in academia, it is not hyperbole to say that I still have the same enthusiasm for the subject and a long (also growing) list of ideas that I wish to investigate further.
How would you describe your typical day?
Unlike to what perhaps many people, outside the academia, think the higher education sector is very dynamic and highly competitive. In such an environment the job of an academic involves a plethora of activities from preparing teaching material and delivering lectures, to designing, conducting, and disseminating research, supervising research students, preparing bids for funding, outreach activities, and admin to name a few. Personally, whenever possible, I prefer to block days and dedicate focused time for teaching and research which are also the most rewarding. The last year I have had the chance to review the supply chains of about 50 UK companies which was both immensely enjoyable and a great source of knowledge. Outside of academia, I spend time with my family and my three kids primarily in sports activities.
What keeps you up at night?
The job of an academic does not fit within the typical Monday to Friday, 9-5 pm window. Catching up on reading, generating new research ideas, or preparing publications and proposals for funding often take place in the evenings and when there are tight deadlines this often translates into working long and late-night hours including weekends.
On a less serious note, I am a big basketball fan and I did stay late some nights to watch my favourite team, Boston Celtics during the recent NBA playoffs season. Unfortunately, they did not make it to the finals which probably resulted in getting a few more hours of sleep!
What do you think will be the biggest difference 10 years from now?
There is little doubt that engineering and manufacturing will continue to see more opportunities arising from emerging technological solutions. The challenge here for engineering organisations will be to distinguish between the hype vs reality of emerging technologies. For SMEs this is going to be the main challenge, how to stay abreast of new technologies in a meaningful way. In addition, I think the climate change/environment agenda and subsequently circular economy will become central to engineering companies’ “modus operandi” with companies becoming not only more accountable but also to identify opportunities for creating or capturing value.