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(MBA Class 2014)

The experience of GSCMI 2013 case competition

Life is full of experiences, good and bad, big and small. Some we forget, some we remember only vaguely while others leave a lasting mark on us, and we almost always learn something from these experiences, even though everyone may have a different takeaway from the exact same experience. The following is the story of one such experience for me; it is not a rock star experience, but an experience from which I learnt a lot nonetheless.

When I learnt about the GSCMI case competition and spring conference, I knew immediately had to be a part of it. It was a chance for me to be a part of something that I am truly passionate about i.e. supply chain and operations. Also, the spring conference was a nice platform for networking which would help me in my ongoing search for internship.

I got to work immediately and put together a team for the case competition. I also volunteered to be a part of the organizing committee as I realized that that would give me a better opportunity to network than if I were to merely attend the conference.

Starting with my experience in the case competition, our team was different in the sense that only two of us were taking the supply chain management class, and only one of us had any in depth experience in SCM. The remaining members had a strong background in finance, strategy and sales and marketing. We put in a lot of hours understanding and preparing the analysis for the case. However, the case competition was a big disappointment as we crashed out in the very first round. In retrospect, it was not the analysis or the understanding of the case that had gone wrong; what had gone wrong though was our appreciation of the audience to whom we were going to present. Our presentation at the end of the day came across as too technical and academic, and our audiences had a hard time keeping up with it, let alone understand the finer details.

To sum it up, we realized that it was not only about getting the analysis right, but to also present it in a manner that is understood by people who may not be as well versed about it. This was further confirmed when later I had the opportunity to listen to some of the winning presentations. The winning teams had balanced their time between coming up with a reasonable estimate of the numbers and making a presentation that would be easily understood by the audience, which is the perfect formula for any sales pitch.

Coming towards the conference, I came on board the organizing committee as a volunteer a few weeks before the conference was to start. The team had already held one meeting before that, and I was in for a huge surprise when I realized that the team had already done most of the planning of all the events and was already down to the finer details. It was also refreshing to see how each individual member was totally involved and excited about the work, and each member was trying to take more work than one can be expected to handle.

In all honesty, with my background in operations, I did not think I would learn a lot during the event organization, another place where I was to be horribly wrong. The event planning was a true operations master class and each and every aspect was covered down the tiniest of the last details which ensured that the event went smoothly without any hitch, and I got to learn a lot more about operations than I could have thought. It was also a great opportunity for me to interact with our juniors from undergrad, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that they are not far behind as far as academic knowledge is concerned, and their passion was also reinvigorating.

The case competition itself cannot be termed anything but a roaring success. Teams from both grad school and undergraduate participated with great zeal and vigor, with close to a total of hundred participants, which is a testament to the strength of operations and supply chain program in Krannert. Again, I can safely say that there was not a gaping chasm between the grad school and undergrad students, and what was also nice to see was the fact that there were participants from schools outside of Krannert as well. Further, clubs from both schools participated in the event management and the operations club teamed up with the consulting club to help students from undergrad prepare for case competition. This partnership, which has also existed in the past, is need of the time, seeing that Krannert is trying its best to promote consulting and both operations and consulting clubs can benefit from each other’s expertise to promote the Krannert brand name.

My favorite part throughout all this was the spring conference itself though. I came aboard the organizing committee mainly to have a better opportunity to network in a bid to launch an internship. However, by the time spring conference arrived, I already had an internship, so that agenda was off the table, which was a good thing too. I was given the opportunity to be one of the two masters of ceremony, and had a chance to sit in and listen to some great presentations from industry experts and yes, a chance to network with them too. And, without the pressure of an internship, I got to see the program in a completely different light and probably for the first time realize all the great work that GCSMI is doing for Krannert, for Purdue and for supply chain and operations management. Further, I realized the importance of such programs and also how effective they can be in the learning process. I would recommend to whosoever reads this to attend these programs whether or not they intend to major in supply chain and operations. This is a great opportunity to learn about how the wheels of industry turn, what our role is going to be as future innovators in the industry, and yes, it is a great place to network too, the importance of which cannot be stressed enough. There are also examples of people getting jobs and internships through this platform, so on that count too this is a very good program.

This is not what GCSMI is limited to however, and I would encourage all of the readers to go and explore more about GCSMI.