Michigan Ross MSCM Students Leverage Their Ross Learning to Take Second Place in National Supply Chain Case Competition
A team of Master of Supply Chain Management students at the Ross School of Business earned an $8,000 check for placing second in the sixth annual 2022 Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business Graduate Supply Chain Case Competition, and they gained valuable industry experience in the process.
For the competition, students from the best business schools in the nation were challenged to use technology, coupled with their own experiences, to solve real-world supply chain problems companies face every day. Students have 24 hours to review a case, brainstorm ideas, and showcase their skills as they pitch their solutions to a judging panel of supply chain industry leaders from major global corporations.
This year, the Michigan Ross team — Pranav Gala, MSCM ’22; Sun Kim, MSCM ’22; John Nixon Jr., MSCM ’22; and Amanda Tsai, MSCM ’22 — was tasked with developing an inventory policy of service part products for Boeing 787 aircraft for American Airlines.
“One of the core concepts in supply chain management is inventory management. We have learned a lot about it, and have done a lot of assignments on it,” said Kim. “The competition was a good chance to leverage our learning and see how academic concepts work in the business world. We were thrilled to confirm that what we are learning can be applied immediately in real business settings.”
Maximizing their Michigan Ross education
Michigan Ross faculty and staff members were instrumental in orchestrating the details of the competition for the team. Winter weather conditions prevented them from traveling to Texas for the competition, so they had to pivot to compete virtually from a Ross classroom.
“We had the trust and blessing of the Ross faculty from the time we signed on to participate in the competition to securing a room for us when our flight was canceled,” said Gala. “Because of the leadership and support of our faculty advisor, Professor Roman Kapuscinski, we were able to work undisturbed and focus on the case.”
The core concepts of inventory policy and optimizing solutions using the Excel solver function they are learning in Manufacturing and Supply Operations and Applied Business Analytics proved useful in the competition.
“We have had a great learning experience at Ross since day one,” said Gala. “We were able to combine the concepts and ideas from the program, which was critical to our success. This is a great testament to the Ross MSCM faculty and program staff and reinforces the strong foundation we’ve received.”
Drawing on peer experiences
In addition to their classroom learnings, each team member’s professional supply chain experience before coming to Ross contributed a lot to their success.
“Pranav has procurement experience, John has inventory management experience, Sun has logistics and sales and operations planning experience, and I have airline cargo industry experience,” said Tsai. “Throughout the competition we learned how to work together. Even through some heated debate, we worked as a team to come up with solutions using our industry experience in addition to what we have learned in class.”
In addition, the intense competition schedule created a productive and efficient environment for the team. “I am very proud of how the four of us worked together in complete synergies for the most grueling 24 hours of my life,” said Gala.
Applying the competition to future plans
The MSCM students said the competition gave them valuable insights to further develop their skills as supply chain professionals.
“After the competition, we had an opportunity to get feedback from the team sponsor (Corning) and judges (American Airlines). They said our solution was quite close to what they are actually doing and trying to do. They also gave us valuable advice on what we could have done better and how we could improve in the future,” said Kim.
Since she plans to pursue a career in logistics after graduation, Tsai said she benefited from working on a specific client deliverable directly related to logistics.
“The competition focused on the complexity of the supply chain and we needed to apply what we have learned to solve the case,” she said. “It was nice to have more experience solving problems under pressure and under a short time limit.”
The team agreed that their participation in this competition will be pivotal when confronted with obstacles in their future careers.
“I like good and healthy competition; it keeps things interesting and tests what we are learning here at Ross,” said Gala. “I love it when you are completely focused on the task at hand and you forget about the world around you. It comes with a bit of discomfort and uncertainty, but I believe that’s how you grow.”