Global Student Challenge
Student supply chain team advances to finals of global case competition
A team of supply chain students has advanced to the Global Final of the Global Student Challenge, powered by The Fresh Connection. The competition, which began in September, challenges student teams from universities worldwide to make strategic and tactical decisions for a virtual company.
“Having the opportunity to attend the final rounds in the Netherlands means a lot,” said team member Susana Dittmar. “We will be competing against the top teams from around the world. We are proud of this accomplishment — it took a lot of teamwork, a commitment to excellence, and hard work."
The team, comprised of students Susana Dittmar, Nonyelu Chukwuogo, Linke Jia, Ashley Dahl, and their coach, Hongzhe Zhang, has found success in other case competitions this academic year. They took first place at APICS and TFC International Student Competition in October and the Transformance Advisors Regional Challenge in November.
The team will travel to the Netherlands in April to compete in the final thanks to support from Transformance Advisors, a member company of the Supply and Value Chain Center.
"The team from Loyola did an exceptional job collaborating on a business strategy and ensuring all functional disciplines were aligned," says Mike Loughrin, CEO of Transformance Advisors. "Their first place finish in our regional competition is a testament to their effort and the education they have received through Loyola University Chicago."
We are very proud of this team and wish them the best as they represent Loyola University Chicago on the international supply chain stage. Read our interview with the team members below.
What does participating in one of these competitions entail?
AD: Participating in these types of competitions requires time and dedication. It also entails working with a team of individuals that have different backgrounds and experiences.
NC: Being able to create Excel models is very important. The better you are at Excel, the quicker you will be able to build a working model.
What has been the groups’ past experiences with these competitions and the Fresh Connection?
SD: All of our team members have experience with similar competitions. Nonyelu and I had the opportunity to participate in the APICS Student Global competition last October in Texas. The team passed all the rounds to get to the finals. During the presentation, we felt very confident with our strategy and received good feedback from attendees. The next day, Loyola Team was awarded first place, winning the APICS Global Student Team Case Competition.
Ashley and Linke participated in a Deloitte competition at the end of last year. They didn’t have the chance to make it to the finals but learned a lot in the process, which is one of the reasons why we’re in this position now, on our way to the Netherlands.
What do you like most about participating in these competitions?
LJ: Participating in these competitions helps me gain more knowledge in supply chain. On one hand, I can utilize the academic knowledge learned in class to solve problems. On the other hand, participating also helps me better understand academic concepts while in the classroom.
AD: I enjoy applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world company situation. I also appreciate how the competition challenges me.
SD: First, I like challenge, and these competitions involve a lot of it. Every scenario that you run will require an analysis from a different point-of-view, which leads me to the second thing I like the most: team work.
NC: It's fun when you work with a good group. Also, winning.
What have you learned from participating in these competitions and how have they impacted you professionally?
SD: I’ve learned more in-depth supply chain management. Seeing the concepts we’ve learned in class applied to real-world situations has been helpful for our outcomes and makes me feel more confident.
LJ: I’ve learned the importance of communication and the value of team work. I’ve also learned how to make good judgments in a fast-paced environment to achieve goals and meet deadlines. These skills will make me competitive in the workplace.
NC: The competition speeds up your growth as a supply chain professional. After doing this competition, you won't really flounder when you start your first supply chain job. Our experience has been that potential employers see value in this, as they always ask about it during interviews.
How has Loyola/Quinlan prepared you to succeed in these competitions?
NC: The graduate supply chain classes have a fantastic synergy with this competition. Almost everything you learn in the purchasing, operations, and inventory management classes can be used in the competition. Also, considering all the group work you do during classes, the project management related aspects of the competition are a breeze, and you can put more energy into generating the best results.
AD: As an MS in supply chain management student, the hands-on projects that I’ve been a part of have given me the skills to make effective decisions and provide valuable insight to the problems presented in this competition.
LJ: Quinlan’s graduate program is in quarter system, which means students need to get used to a faster academic pace. This prepares us to make good judgment in a short period of time during the competition. Also, we usually have group projects in each class, which gives us opportunity to team up with different people. As for our group members, we know each other through class; this make us feel comfortable with each other – we know each other’s strengths.
SD: As I said before, we’ve applied some concepts learned in class to our model. Our model is the base of our results; it’s where we calculate and simulate outcomes in order to make our decisions. Without this knowledge, you can’t build an accurate model. Quinlan has taught us to be passionate with what we do – this competition is a good example of our passion.