Four Full-time Georgia Tech MBA students took first place in Texas Christian University (TCU) Neely Center for Supply Chain Innovation’s Graduate Supply Chain Case Competition on February 24, 2020. Scheller’s Team NFI, named after competition sponsor NFI, a leading supply chain solutions provider, comprised of Preston Jones, James Farmer, Sachin Pai and Victoria Skinner, won the grand prize of $10,000 and four iPads after beating out 17 other graduate teams from various universities.
The case competition, provided by Chick-fil-A, addressed the challenges of supporting high supply chain growth in seven western states. Utilizing demographics, consumer behaviors, and natural seasonality, each team was tasked with expanding distribution networks to meet customer demand for Chick-fil-A products. Teams were also provided with GIS ( geographic information system) software from Esri.
“The event overall was extraordinary well organized and managed. We faced extremely tough competition from across the country so winning the competition was an amazing feeling that we won't soon forget,” said Farmer.
Prior to traveling to Texas, the team prepared for the competition by studying the ESRI software required for the competition to have some context for its capabilities. Several NFI team members from Scheller College Professor Basak Kalkanci’s Supply Chain Modeling class helped the team stay abreast of the latest trends in Supply Chain Innovation. The team also utilized their Atlanta location, home to Chick-fil-a headquarters to their advantage.
“We researched Chick-fil-a's strategy and tried to find as much information about their latest supply chain moves in the news. The recent opening of a Chick-fil-A distribution center in Cartersville, Georgia, gave us some hints on what the case may entail,” Jones said.
Once at the competition, the first thing the Scheller NFI team did was spend an hour in their war room reviewing the challenge. The goal was to fundamentally define the problem in the case. Solutions weren’t allowed to be discussed until they fully debriefed and agreed what the problem was as a team. Once they identified the problem was failure to service 100% of Chick-fil-a stores on the west coast, they were able to frame their solutions.
“We agreed that being a team of MBAs, we wanted to differentiate our solution from the other Supply Chain focused master’s programs by developing a solid business case for our recommendations that meshed with Chick-fil-a's corporate strategy and values,” Jones said. “We wanted to tell the best story to Chick-fil-a that helped them achieve their strategic objectives.” The insight and skills the Scheller NFI team members had gained in the MBA programs served them well and secured their win at this year’s case competition.
“TCU did an awesome job working with Chick-fil-a to write the case,” Jones said. “We were provided a great challenge that allowed our team to design a solution to a real problem the company is facing in the future. Our team had a great experience with the event and we definitely hope to get another Scheller group there next year.”
Congratulations to Scheller College’s Team NFI for winning the grand prize and representing the College on a national level.
The competition is presented annually by the TCU Neeley Center for Supply Chain Innovation. Learn more about Scheller College’s Full-time, part-time Evening, and weekend Executive MBA programs.