On February 20th, four students traveled to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to attend the fourth annual TCU Neeley Supply Chain Case Competition sponsored by ESRI. This year the teams worked to solve supply chain issues around network distribution, inventory replenishment and carbon emissions for the restaurant chain, Chick-Fil-A.
Eighteen teams competed in this year’s competition for a sum of $26k in prizes. MSCM Foster’s team of four students included Drashtant Patel, Christopher Lu, Freda Meng, and Ruining Zhang. The team was sponsored by Frito Lay. “It was a great opportunity for our team to apply our in-class learning to solve an actual problem faced by a famous restaurant chain,” shared current MSCM student, Drashtant Patel.
Prepping for a Supply Chain Case Competition
Although the competition didn’t begin until the end of February, students spent a couple of weeks prior to the competition prepping. They held stand-up sessions to discuss preparation and practice working together. “The four of us had no experience working with each other as a team. Learning each team member’s strength was crucial so we solved a couple of cases to practice working as a team,” recalled Drashtant. “The feedback sessions post practice were also helpful. Based on these practice sessions we were able to divide major responsibilities among team members ahead of time, which was really helpful.”
Sprinting to Solutions
Once at the competition, students had about a day and a half to work on their case and present it to judges comprised of supply chain industry leaders. Students received their case assignment Friday morning and were scheduled to present just 24 hours later. “Our two main focuses were to provide technical and strategic solutions to our problem and to have a strong presentation,” said Drashtant. With that the team divided the tasks to make the most of their time. “Each team member was assigned to one of four categories: ESRI Tool, Finance, Strategy, or Presentation. We managed to stay focused and efficient, taking minimal breaks, and giving each other feedback when necessary.” Drashtant also shared some of the classes that gave the team tools to be successful at the competition. “Our class on Global Supply Chain Logistics helped a lot while designing warehouse network distribution. The Forecasting and Inventory Management as well, Finance & Accounting, and Marketing courses helped a lot while solving cases and with the presentations which were areas we were praised for also,” shared Drashtant.
There were two rounds in the competition- a preliminary round and championship round. Five groups of 4-5 teams participated in the preliminary rounds. Winners from each group then competed in the championship round. The MSCM team was one of five teams that made it to the championship round, ultimately receiving third place out of 18 participating teams. “We got detailed feedback from several judges and sponsors. They praised our body language, creative solutions, and teamwork” shared Drashtant. The team received $3,000 and iPad minis for each team member.
Reflecting on the Experience
“Going in, our focus was on the experience and not so much on winning,” shared Drashtant. “I think it really paid off because our focus on teamwork (listening, encouraging, and giving feedback) were noticed and praised in the competition.” Other important elements of success included innovative ideas, analytical skills, and critical thinking. “This competition made us realize the importance of extraordinary presentation skills and in-depth financial knowledge. It was just a great opportunity and we really enjoyed the entire process,” said Drashtant.