Best of Both Worlds: Industry-Academia Partnerships Leverage Each Other's Strengths

The Purdue School of Industrial Engineering is collaborating with industry partners to deliver co-created, high-impact, transformational Executive Education programs to support the current and future needs of organizations in a rapidly changing knowledge landscape.

A recent success story is the partnership with TVS Motor Company in India. TVS Motors is the third largest two-wheeler manufacturer in India, with sales of more than 3 million vehicles annually to customers across 60 countries. 

TVS Motors’ rapid growth, brought forth by expanding product lines and expansion into global markets, increased the complexity of their supply chain and manufacturing operations. The rapid growth provided an opportunity to rethink the development of their management staff, emphasizing the development of skills in operations research and data-driven decision making to complement their renowned quality culture. TVS partnered with Purdue to leverage the expertise of Purdue faculty and staff to co-create a tailored program that met the company’s needs.

"The partnership opportunity was a direct result of Venu Srinivasan’s vision," reports Abhi Deshmukh, the James J. Solberg Head and Tompkins Chair of Systems at Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering. 

Mr. Venu Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Motor Company and Sundaram Clayton, and a Purdue alumnus, saw the key role industrial engineering could play in improving decision making across the TVS organization. He reflects, “I have, since my student days, been very interested in industrial engineering as a field to optimize processes and make sound business decisions across all processes within the Company - from product development, manufacturing, sales to supply chain management.” 

”Venu was keenly aware of the deep expertise available at Purdue, in the School of Industrial Engineering, Krannert School of Management, and beyond, to help TVS Motors’ leadership gain exposure to the cutting-edge tools and techniques in operations research, analytics, and decision-making,” Dr. Deshmukh commented.

The co-creation process involved structured planning sessions with a panel of Purdue faculty and staff, and a team of TVS senior managers, led by Dr. Venugopalan Kovaichelvan, Director of TVS Institute for Quality and Leadership. The program comprised of a set of content modules designed for on-site and remote teaching in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, in conjunction with action-learning projects focused on direct application of content to TVS operations. Throughout the program, learning was assessed with a mixture of assignments and project reviews. Participants were formally certified as advanced operations research practitioners within TVS upon completion of the program.

To date, the program has produced two cohorts, totaling 60 members and has evolved into a Community of Practice (CoP) to ensure continued learning, development, and support. These participants have since implemented over 45 projects in the areas of supply chain and logistics, production scheduling, and inventory optimization. The community continues to tackle projects in strategic areas and implement them across the company functions, resulting in significant, on-going return on investment for the company.

Mr. Venu Srinivasan, Chairman TVS Group: "The rigorous and impactful decision-making capability of this community of OR practitioners has been exemplary, leading to significant gains for the company."

Chairman Srinivasan is quite enthusiastic of the outcomes and the future of the collaboration, “As an alumnus of Purdue University, one of best industrial engineering schools in the world, I am proud that the excellent Executive Education program, co-created by Purdue University and TVS Motor Company, has resulted in a 60-strong community of qualified Operations Research (OR) practitioners within TVS Motor Company.”

Given the success of the current program, TVS and Purdue IE are already planning the next venture focused on applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence to support organizational decision making. This partnership has also resulted in industry-driven projects, internships, curriculum augmentation, and mentoring of Purdue students. “The benefits of such partnerships truly reach the entire spectrum of academic and industry participants,” says Dr. Patrick Brunese, Director of Academic Programs in Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering.

As the technology landscape evolves at an ever-increasing pace, organizations are having to respond by being nimble, not only in the technology they use to make their products and services, but also the data, tools, and processes they use to manage their organizations. Data-driven decision making is becoming essential at all levels of an organization. The development of skills and capabilities within organizations to ensure effective response to opportunities presents unique challenges.

Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering is uniquely positioned to help companies meet this challenge by leveraging the expertise our world-class faculty possess in all areas of human-integrated systems to industry-specific challenges, ensuring a holistic perspective while maintaining depth. To ensure that we design the best possible program for the organization, our faculty work closely with company leadership to develop a program outline and learning outcomes. Together, we develop the right mix of content developed by subject matter experts, coupled with a carefully planned learning environment, and company-focused projects to ensure immediate transfer of learning. 

David Kotterman, Director of Corporate Relations in the Purdue University School of Industrial Relations, notes, “It is truly a partnership. We sit down with the corporate leadership team to assess a prospective program outline. Each program is tailored specifically to meet the company’s needs.”

If you are interested in exploring an Executive Education program with the Purdue University School of Industrial Engineering, please contact David Kotterman at