By: Alina Buzgar, News Editor
On February 20-21, 2015 in Claremont, California, 84 students from 14 different schools competed in the APICS West Coast 9th Annual Student Case Competition. This event was hosted by the APICS Southwest District and had two separate divisions – a Graduate and an Undergraduate division. For the first time, the case was a computer simulation game.
Our warmest congratulations to the Thunderbird team who won the competition: Karunakaren M.H. (MBA ’15, India), Piyush Chandra (MBA ’15, India), Ronak Patel (MBA ’15, India), Raphael Rique (MBA ’15, Brazil), and Rakesh Gadiparthi (MBA ’15, India).
What was the case? What did you have to do?
“The competition was a computer simulation called ‘The Fresh Connection’. There were multiple rounds played by each team followed by presentations of their findings to the judges who took on the role of the company’s Board of Directors. Students took on roles of key vice-presidents of the juice company (sales, operations, finance, purchasing and supply chain) to develop and execute those strategies to turn around the company which was losing money and presented their findings,” says Karunakaren.
“Each member in the team was given one function and my assigned function was sales wherein I managed customer contracts and also made sales forecasts,” says Ronak Patel (MBA ’15, India).
Share some things that you did to work together as a team. How did you organize your work?
“One key to our success was that we had a clear team leader in Karunakaren. He had experience in playing this simulation last year and his insights were valuable. He managed the team really well. As a team we also delegated our work systematically and during the simulation we had a defined line of communication which really helped,” says Patel.
Karunakaren adds: “I was the leader for the team by virtue of experience in the event. Since we came together very late, in order to work successfully, we organized ourselves into our respective roles and tried to understand the simulation quickly. I was acting as a mentor to the team and tried to bring everyone on to the same page. Once the responsibilities were clear, we decided on a strategy for the company that is ‘high quality, high cost and limited product line’ and once the strategy was clear each function aligned their decisions towards achieving the strategy. After every round, the complexities increased and we decided that person responsible for the role will make the analysis for their respective functions and the team will come together to make the decision to institute any changes. Every person on the team contributed to their utmost to improve the team performance and helped to achieve success.”
How was the competition?
Patel responds: “The day of competition was intense as we had a 14-hour schedule ahead starting from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM. As we arrived in the hall, it was intimidating to see all 22 teams ready to compete. None of the other team members were willing to socialize as everyone was focused. This was the time I realized though we are running a virtual company, the competition was like the real business world.” Karunakaren remembers: “During the competition, I was nicknamed ‘S.O.S’ because I became the go to guy for any difficult decision making and eventually this spilled over to things outside the competition as well.”
How did you find out about the competition? How did you form your team?
“I was informed about the competition through APICS organization and also through association with the competition,” says Karunakaren. He also took part in APICS 2014 and won then too. “To be honest, this team was formed with members interested in supply chain function only a week before the competition and needed a quick turnaround,” adds Karunakaren.
What did you take with you from this competition? What did you learn?
“As I want to pursue my career in supply chain, this was my first real experience working in this field. I gained various insights on how important it is to integrate all supply chain functions in order to meet the customer demand,” says Patel. “I enjoyed every moment of this experience, where I got to work with a completely new group and I derive satisfaction that I was able to lead Team Thunderbird to a prestigious title,” says Karunakaren.
APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management and the premier provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience. APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) and APICS Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P) designations set the industry standard. With over 41,000 members and more than 250 international partners, APICS is transforming the way people do business, drive growth and reach global customers.