It is not often that one gets to be a professor, speaker, writer, inventor, subject-matter expert, consultant, pilot, poet, business leader, and a father – and excel at each of these roles. But when asked what inspires him the most, Visiting Senior Fellow Keith Carter immediately responds, “While I wear multiple hats, there’s one thing I most definitely do and love: To make lives of others easier with technology. That is my passion, and my mission in life.”
He may make it sound simple, but Keith is quick to explain that it is anything but. “Companies today spend so much time mining data – they build big data systems, transaction systems, storage systems – that they often forget that it is not just about the technology. Rather, it is about how to leverage technology to make the right, strategic decisions.” An ‘ideas man,’ Keith has spent almost two decades bringing technology, people and processes together.
Western Roots, Eastern Experiences
A New Yorker, Keith is sought-after globally for his expertise in supply chain, procurement and big data. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Cornell University, Keith began his career with companies such as Accenture, where he advised banking clients like Goldman Sachs and Solomon Brothers. He has also worked in the cosmetics industry with Estee Lauder where he served as the company’s Global Supply Chain Intelligence Lead.
Despite a fast-track career after his MBA, Keith then took an unconventional route to come to Asia – and to teach. “I had reached a point in my career where I had a couple of options: I could either continue in New York doing the same thing and get old, or I could choose to live a bit earlier in my career by coming to Asia to get the knowledge and foundation as well as to give back. I chose the latter when Professor Teo Chung Piaw contacted me to teach a Purchasing class at NUS Business School in 2012. It was an opportunity to move to Asia and experience first-hand the region’s phenomenal growth” Keith recalls.
And he’s found his sweet spot. As a full-time, Visiting Senior Fellow at NUS Business school, Keith teaches students at all levels, as well as serves as a crucial link to the industry with his external engagements and lending data sets/methodologies which assist in research as well. Keith is also involved as an Affiliate Professor in the School’s new Master of Science in Business Analytics Programme.
“I’ve enjoyed my time working here and met some fantastic people. It’s wonderful to see a group of talented people trying to make a difference. And our students are exceptionally brilliant. They are respectful and hardworking. I can work them as much as I can and they give me back results. That’s something that I’m not done with yet, because I can take them further.”
It was a personal experience in 2010 that proved to be a turning point in Keith’s professional career and propelled him to write his book, “Actionable Intelligence: A Guide to Delivering Business Results With Big Data Fast.”
In early 2010, his 74-year old mother, who was physically very active, suffered a stroke and was admitted to a hospital in New York. “I was driving to my office, where I had to work on a big data project when I got a call from my dad about my mom’s condition. I rushed to the doctor and asked him for information on what happened and about her current condition. But the doctor and nurses were too busy to answer and did not have any information on hand. Fortunately, we moved her to another hospital, where the doctor was able to show me all the information and explain all that happened. He also showed me the X-rays and other medical records. This was a turning point in my life when I realised the importance of data,” shares Keith.
“Not only did the doctor take his time to explain to me and answer all my questions, he also demonstrated a higher level of knowledge and expertise by using simple, understandable language. He could do this because all the medical data about my mother was at his fingertips.”
Inspired by this experience, Keith embarked on a journey to actionable intelligence capabilities: instant access to forward-looking information on hand. His book shows why the value of big data lies not in its size, but in using it to answer key questions about business with facts. “Today, you need to have all the data at your finger-tips to answer questions from your stakeholders. Speed is of the essence. Intelligence, after all, is only of real value if you receive it quickly enough to make use of it. What’s the point otherwise?” he asks.
Keith is a Visiting Senior Fellow at NUS Business School and a global supply chain operations executive with 16 years of experience in the cosmetics, beauty, government and financial services industries. He has led and managed teams in the US, Canada, UK, Belgium and Singapore and is an international speaker on supply chain topics. He is the author of the book, “Actionable Intelligence: A Guide to Delivering Business Results” published by Wiley and available at all major retailers and Amazon. He lives in Singapore with his wife Stella and two boys, Emmanuel and Luke. Connect with him on LinkedIn or drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org