Using My Master of Supply Chain Management Learnings to Solve a Real-World Problem during a Global Case Competition
Holding the beacon of the Ross School of Business is a prestigious privilege, and I was honored to recently represent Michigan Ross for the first time at the ISM Global Case Competition. It certainly was an exceptional journey that I hope will inspire future Master of Supply Chain Management students to take on.
The ISM Global Case Competition is an annual summit hosted by the Institute of Supply Management. The competition is a part of a conference for supply chain leaders, learners, and stalwarts from around the world. The 2022 conference was held in person in Orlando, Florida.
From interest to passion: Why I decided to participate in the case competition
Turning my pages back, I distinctly remember when my teammates Dipesh Patel,MSCM ’22, Siddhant Behara, MSCM ’22, and Daniel Hult, MSCM ’22, shared thoughts to register for this event. Although I was busy planning my wedding, I still jumped on a quick call to say I was in. After all, a supply chain enthusiast can have no qualms about embracing this great opportunity, which I viewed as an experience of a lifetime.
Starting my career in the automotive industry, my early years sparked my interest in supply chain, and it gradually translated from fascination to passion. My hunger to explore, learn, and grow landed me at Michigan Ross, the citadel of learning the art of supply chain management. Renowned professors, inspiring peers, and opportunities to learn by solving real-world problems has greatly helped me to hone my business and communication skills as a supply chain expert and future industry leader.
This ISM competition was a way to both demonstrate what we learned, as well as showcase our courage, passion, and teamwork to inspire future Michigan Ross MSCM students to take on challenges and use their learning to help create a better world for tomorrow.
About the case competition
In this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, supply chains around the globe are constantly evolving for driving efficiency in businesses. Industries have been seen pressing the panic button when material supply hinders. The global concern over semiconductor shortages is a quintessential example of this issue and that is what we were asked to solve during the ISM competition.
The first round of the competition took place in December and we had to submit an essay to a prompt. Competing against a large pool of global teams, we were high in spirits after being shortlisted in the top 15 teams. Marching into the second round, we were tasked to devise solutions to the two biggest problems the semiconductor industry is facing right now: The lead time challenge to get the material on time (reducing the timeline by a month and a half) and a long-term sourcing strategy for graphene composite plastic resin — an integral material in production of chips. We translated our thoughts into applicable solutions on a PowerPoint presentation, which we submitted. Then, in April, we got the amazing news of being in the top four teams who were asked to present their solutions in-person to supply chain leaders across the world at the ISM Global Conference.
On May 23, our team, the Enigmatic Outliers, was ready to go. Brimming with excitement, we presented our thoughts and ideas to the forum and it was profoundly fulfilling to receive positive feedback from prominent industry leaders, including the chief procurement officer of DuPont and cybersecurity head of Amazon. We were awarded third place, which came with a $2,000 cash prize along with free access to materials for Certified Professional in Supply Management exams and a certification worth over $15,000. It was a challenging yet rewarding journey which my team and I took together over the past five months, and we encourage every student to give it a try for a holistic experience to put learning into action.
My team and support we received from Ross
My team, the Enigmatic Outliers, was an amazing group of motivated individuals from Michigan Ross. I was fortunate enough to work with Daniel Hult, Dipesh Patel, and Siddhant Behara. These individuals came from diversified industry experience in supply chain management and there was so much to learn from each of them. We worked day and night to get to the solution and strategy for the problem statement. We presented a unique logistical solution involving intermodal transportation and sourcing strategy, and created a road map for adoption which was appreciated by industry leaders and judges. It all became possible due to our great mentors, Professor Damian Beil and Professor Ravi Anupundi, who constantly pushed our limits to look for better and improved solutions and sailed us through roadblocks. We also had immense support from the one-year master’s program team, especially Managing Director Kaci Kegler, who was equally excited to send us to Florida and provided support and motivation at every stage.
Learning and the path forward
The best part was that we were able to utilize our learning from the classroom on an actual, real-life problem, and it made us really proud to see what we have achieved. The Michigan Ross MSCM Program paved the way for us to broaden our horizon, look through problems to deep dive at actual causes, and create sustainable solutions. My teammates and I feel the ISM competition has proved to us that what we have learned is directly applicable to real-world problems. Also, we wish to apply these concepts in the next stage of our careers as we step out of Ross. We have seen supply chains go through immense transformation during the pandemic, and now is the time we implement what we learned in the classroom. Ross has prepared us and equipped us to change the business world and solve some of the toughest problems, and we are grateful to everyone for their support along the way.