olin-case-comp-photoThe Monsanto-Olin Case Competition (MOCC) was an inter-college graduate case competition organized by Olin and sponsored by Monsanto, a publicly traded agrochemical company. The evening prior to the competition participants were invited to an event at Monsanto’ s headquarters, where they had the opportunity to meet Monsanto employees, engage in presentations, and enjoy a networking happy hour. This case competition was designed for MBA students interested in global supply chain and technology management in the agri-business environment.  Olin faculty and Monsanto executives had put together a live case and were looking for students’ innovative, creative and insightful business solutions.

Over 40 schools were invited to compete in this particular competition, but only five were selected to present their live case.  The final teams included the Penn State Smeal team, Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business, University of Missouri-Columbia Crosby MBA Program, Rollins College Crummer MBA, and the host, Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School MBA.

As students with a concentration in supply chain, the case was highly valuable since we worked on real issues faced by the company. Doing this case was advantageous for us in two other ways as well – 1) we formed relations with the company and 2) we learned and improved our knowledge and skills from exposure to the field.  The case completion helped us in broadening our business approach, connecting different areas that touch upon business, and improving our presentation skills. It also gave us real experience as management students by providing an opportunity to present directly to C-suite level professors (judges). In addition to the aforementioned advantages, the case completion taught us to collaborate. It is very interesting to see how four people of different backgrounds worked together to give an appeal to the project.


Each year Michigan State has invited the top 15 supply chain programs to participate in its Bowersox Supply Chain Competition (GSCC).  GSCC is simulation-based, where teams have about three hours to come up with a strategy and execute 13 rounds.  Each team is then graded on four items: Revenue, Supply Chain Contribution, Demand Fulfillment and Inventory Turnover.
msu-1st-place-2015This year, the simulation was strategizing the location of a new plant, the product mix, and both the labor and warehousing capacity.   This year eight supply chain programs competed, including Penn State’s Smeal.  The Smeal MBA team was made up of two first-year’s, Jordan Crespo and Chad Darlington, and one second-year, Skylar Haws.  The team scored third on Revenue, first on Supply Chain Contribution, fifth on Demand Fulfillment, and second on Inventory Turnover.  Overall, Penn State won the competition, with Wisconsin second and Michigan State winning the tie-breaker over Carnegie Mellon for third.  It was a great competition; so great, and we even made it into Penn State news. Penn State Smeal team wins Bowersox Graduate Supply Chain Challenge.


My first year of MBA was over in a flash, and I am going to talk about some of my experiences at Penn State. I reached Happy Valley with a lot of aspirations and dreams, and, of course, also with some uncertainty lingering in the back of my mind. Every aspect of the experience, including people, weather, food and language, was different from what I was used to. Surprisingly, I did not struggle much to adapt to the new world around me. The Smeal MBA community and the pleasant culture of Happy Valley helped me to make an easy transition. The MBA program started with 2 weeks of orientation during which I met a lot of extraordinary people who have had a big influence in my life thus far. It was packed with activities and also focused on career development.

Then, Mod 1 began, and the pace started picking up. Soon I was immersed in assignments, quizzes and teamwork. There were so many things to do that I do not even remember all of them! One of the aspects which I like about the program is the teamwork involved in it. I had the opportunity to work with a very diverse team. It was interesting to get different perspectives on the same problem from people with diverse backgrounds.

Career fairs started almost as soon as classes did. The career services team gave us enough opportunities to sharpen our skills so we were able to shine in interviews. Being an international student, the career fairs were a great way to learn about companies and to practice my interview skills.

At Smeal, there are a lot of student run organizations and students get to hone their leadership skills by being a part of clubs. Penn State is so diverse and full of opportunities that at any point in time, there will be many events happening simultaneously. It is important for one to stay focused on his or her goals or they can be easily carried away by all the wonderful things happening on campus.

Since I am interested in dancing, I cherished the the Diwali celebration which was filled with cultural entertainment and festivities. Tailgates at football games were new to me, and they were such joyous events which brought the people together and showed the spirit of Penn State. I sailed through Mod 1 and Mod 2, and I was also able to secure an internship which made life so much easier. I should definitely take a moment to thank not only my career services team and my peers, but also the second years who were instrumental in helping me get my internship. It’s yet another example of the collaborative culture at Smeal.

I visited Prague for my Global Immersion experience. It was refreshing to learn about a different culture, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My first year of MBA was over in so quickly, and I am now gearing up for my internship. The past nine months have been challenging, and the learning has been tremendous.  After finishing my internship successfully, I look forward to continuing my MBA journey to see what the next year holds for me!

-Srimaan Gurusamy, Penn State Smeal MBA ’17


Iowa Case Competition SP16The University of Iowa Business Analytics Case Competition was an exciting opportunity to evaluate an extensive amount of data utilizing many of the tools we were learning in statistics. UnityPoint Health was the main sponsor of the event, along with a few other local and global companies located in Iowa City, Iowa. UnityPoint provided anonymized patient data from nearly 13,000 recent hospital visits and asked the competition teams to try and forecast which unique identifiers would most likely predict any given patient’s propensity to return to the hospital again in 30 days. This is called an unplanned readmission as is currently measured as a negative statistic against a hospital under the new Obama Care regulations. Our team analyzed the case using logistical regression analysis and attempted to cleanse the data from any unnecessary or detracting data sets (such as incomplete patient information or erroneously recorded readmissions). We were able to put together a cohesive presentation meant to show our analysis as well as the benefits from implementing the new algorithm we set up to predict readmission. The competition format was to separate the 14 competing teams into 3 rooms for the first round, then the judges would select the best team from each room to move on to the final round. Unfortunately we were not selected to move on, however it was a great experience and taught us a lot about the differences in judging at each competition and what to expect from different cases.


It’s only apt that I am writing a blog on this topic to bring closure to my earlier blogs. I started my blog series with my MBA induction followed by a summary of my first year and takeaways from my internship. The last one and a half years of my MBA has gone by in a flash. Although the time has gone by too quickly, it was not without its share of highs and lows. What has the second year of the MBA program been like for me? Not as hectic as the first year, however, with APEX, 20 hours of graduate assistant work, classes and a part-time job at AccuWeather, it still was enough to keep me busy. How did it all work out?

The second year started on a pretty high note for me just like the rest of my classmates as we had all come back from our internships. Most of us already had full time job offers. Most of the second year’s initial time was spent interacting with and guiding the new incoming first years. By now most of the second years already knew what concentrations we were planning to take and accordingly registered for the required classes. Hence, the workload from classes wasn’t as much as compared to the first year. During the fall semester, I got an offer to work part-time. Most of the social activities throughout the year were similar to what we did in the first year such as Diwali, Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving celebrations.

Most of my classmates took the time during winter break to visit their families at home. Some classmates even got married. The spring session started with our APEX projects. APEX refers to Applied Professional Experience. I was fortunate enough to work with a great team for an internet start-up based out of Denver, CO. We performed in depth market research to develop a business plan and launch strategy for a new product offering for our clients. The spring semester also gave us the opportunity to visit the New York Fire Department and Quantico as part of our Leadership Immersion program. A group of second years learned leadership principles from these outstanding individuals at NYFD and Quantico.

The most important event for me was Visitation Weekend where I helped MBA Admissions and the MBA Association to organize and manage this two-day event for prospective students in the incoming class. It was a highly rewarding experience working with Admissions to make the event a great success.

As I finish my last couple of assignments in this last week of school and look back at the MBA experience, I can say that this has been a highly rewarding and transformative experience that I will cherish all my life. I have made lasting relationships and friendships here. As I head out to the professional world, I would always remember the important life lessons provided by my experienced faculty members. Wishing you all a great summer!

Signing off,
Rahul Ramteke
Class of 2016

Reception after the Case Simulation finals

Reception after the Case Simulation finals. Rahul is third from the left.

 


As a diverse program, Smeal MBAs celebrate holidays and new years for many countries. Especially between the two calendar years, we have a busy holiday season. Soon after the Diwali festival, we celebrated Christmas and enjoyed winter break. After everyone coming back from winter break, we started to prepare for Lunar New Year celebration.

I am from a traditional family in China. Lunar new year is our most important festival of the year. Much like Christmas, the main value of Lunar new year is family reunion. In China, one day or two days before Lunar New Year, people return to their hometown from the cities they lived in for work. They are welcomed back to their homes by loving parents, a table of delicious foods and visits from their relatives. On the day of Lunar new year, a big family celebrates together by having a fabulous dinner and cooking special foods for the festival. In different regions of China, people have different festival foods. I am from the north region so we make dumplings while people from the south make wantons or other special foods.

This is the second year I celebrated Lunar New Year in the U.S., but I never felt lonely. The Smeal MBA Program prepares a Lunar New Year celebration every year, thanks to the MBA Association. This year we had a gala in a big hall in the hub. The MBAA prepared great and authentic foods from local Chinese restaurants. They have invited performers from the Chinese students association to bring us real joy and entertainment. There was also a beautiful fashion show and many of our own classmates and staff dressed in traditional Chinese clothes to cat-walk across the stage. We also invited our families and friends to join us. It is always such a wonderful evening!

Right after the Lunar New Year, in 15 days, the Chinese celebrate the Lantern Festival. Every year on this specific day, the moon is supposed to be the biggest of the entire year. This year, we had the biggest moon in many years! What a fascinating coincidence! During the Lantern Festival, we used to celebrate by lighting traditional lanterns in different shapes, such as animals and flowers. However, more recently people have stopped making lanterns so we celebrate by lighting candles, having dinner with our dearest family and friends and ending the holiday season with the best wishes of the brand new year.

Yufei Han
MBA Candidate Class of 2016

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Case PictureThe Global Supply Chain Management Initiative (GSCMI) Inter-College Graduate Case Competition was held as part of the GSCMI Spring Conference put on by Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The GSCMI Center puts on a semi-annual conference where topics are discussed with industry leaders about new initiatives affecting the global supply chain. This year, the conference and case competition focused on a new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Only one team per school was able to participate, so in order to choose a team to represent the Smeal College of Business, the MBA Supply Chain Club held a mini-case competition for all teams that wanted the opportunity to compete. The case was given/held in October, and was about American Airlines and deciding the procurement strategy for a blanket supplier.

After winning this mini-case round, our team registered and competed in the first round of the actual GSCMI competition. The case involved analyzing the effects of the TPP on the pharmaceutical industry and what types of procurement and risk analytic recommendations would not only help a given pharmaceutical industry succeed with the new TPP regulations, but also protect against supply chain disruptions. The directive was to create a 10 slide presentation to submit virtually that would outline our analysis and recommendations. Out of 12 teams that applied for the first round, 6 were selected to move on to the final round, held in person at Purdue. The final round consisted of a 24 hour case that added more information and changes to the first round TPP case. Not only did we have to refine our supply chain strategy from round 1, but we also now had to consider changes in the legal, patent, and data exclusivity laws that were not presented in the first round of the case.  Our team worked at Purdue from 9:00am until 12:00am the next day creating our presentation and refining the recommendation to accommodate for the changes to the case. The next day we attended the GSCMI Center Spring Conference where we heard from industry leaders about how their companies/business were affected by the TPP and how it would benefit them.

At the end of the conference, around 2:00pm, the 6 finalist teams presented their entire analysis and recommendations in front of 8 judges and an audience of about 20 other faculty and conference participants. The 6 finalist teams were from the University of Washington in St. Louis, University of Michigan, University of Illinois – Champagne, Purdue University, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and us. We presented second to last in the lineup and felt that our recommendation and analysis was strong and exceptional. Having not been able to witness any of the other presentations, we did not have any expectations with regards to how well we performed comparatively. In the end, we were awarded 1st place, with UNC coming in 2nd, and UoW St. Louis coming in 3rd. We want to thank 220 for their support and making it possible for us to travel to Purdue, as well as the Supply Chain club for selecting us to represent the school.

By F. Jordan Crespo


The 2016 Illinois MBA Strategy Case was an invitation only competition hosted by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign MBA program on February 4-6. This year’s competition was sponsored by AT&T and Bosch.  Judges for this event included employees from some of the top corporations within the U.S., Illinois MBA alumni, in particular the aforementioned companies.  Fourteen schools from across the United States will be invited to participate in this exhilarating competition. Participants will have 24 hours to analyze a complex business strategy case and present to a panel of judges. The competition is staged in two rounds: first, three to four teams presented to four different panels.  Each winner from the first round then presented to a larger panel in the second and final round of the competition.

Case PictureThis year the case revolved around the changing industry dynamics of Intel and its computer processing business.  We were given qualitative and quantitative data surrounding Intel’s six business segments: personal computers, servers, mobile devices, internet of things, and other.  We were tasked with recommending what segments Intel should pursue and how they should continue to grow profits in each area chosen.  We were given the case as 8:00am and asked to submit our final presentation on a flash drive at 8:15am the next day.  We worked until about 2am, considering marketing, operations, financials, and industry trends to determine the best paths for Intel to pursue.  We did not advance from the 1st round of the competition, but value our learnings from the case and our new knowledge about the technology industry.  We want to thank 220 for their support and making it possible for us to travel to the University of Illinois, as well as the Andy and Nancy for selecting us to represent the school.

By Greg Wommer


Case Picture

The Deloitte Supply Chain Challenge final round constituted of providing a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) for consulting services on how to expand a multinational automaker’s operations and sales streams from India to South Africa. There were 8 teams total competing, which were pre-selected to be separated into two rooms for the first round, of which the top 4 would move on to the final.

Instead of providing a generic case, the final round consisted of a 12 hour period where Deloitte practitioners acted as both internal consulting managers and the customer itself. We had meetings, phone calls, and milestones to complete throughout the 12 hour time period, where we would be able to speak with and glean extra information from the different people and allow that to help us with our response. The first milestone was about 1 ½ hours into the competition, where we had to meet with our project manager to talk about what direction we were focusing on and see if that made sense. We then had a phone call with the customer, where they were able to tell us about their thoughts on some of the key focus areas and what they didn’t like about the expansion. We then had another in person meeting with the Principal of our project where they assisted in identifying one of the key problems our customer was interested in answering.

Overall, from 10:30am to 11:59pm, we worked on evaluating the considerations of the problems presented, and what types of analysis and evaluation we could provide as a consulting firm. After presenting, while we were given positive feedback, we were not moved on to the final round. It was extremely beneficial to learn about the consulting process and what different expectations a consulting firm has for its employees, as well as what is going to sell to the customer and help them make the decision to hire the consulting firm.

By F. Jordan Crespo


Getting my MBA seemed like a long journey of two years when I started more than a year and a half back. Now with only one module to go, frankly, it feels like time flew by during the program. As I enter into the final module (mod), my excitement to graduate has increased a lot.

Many of the alumni have spoken about their time in State College. Most of the alumni still say that it was the best time of their lives. Just the other day I spoke to one of my alumni in the organization that I will be joining after MBA graduation. I sought advice as to how best to utilize the final couple of months. The advice included a very important suggestion to “have fun and enjoy the student life while in the program”.

I believe that the final mod should be the best one in the program. Most of us in the program have already completed the majority of credits required to graduate so the mod will be academically lighter than most of the other modules. An academically lighter module means more free time for fun. During this module, our APEX projects will hit peak. We will all have to give our final pitches to our respective clients towards the end of the course. I have been working with a fantastic team at Johnson & Johnson for my APEX project and it has been a very good learning experience wherein I got to apply some of the concepts I learned during the MBA program.

I am really excited about leadership immersion, a one-credit course. This course involves going to either Quantico or the NYC Fire Department for group activities through which we will get to learn finer aspects of team dynamics and leadership.

With the graduation ceremony less than two and a half months away, I am really excited to enjoy my final mod of the second year and make the most of my remaining time here in Happy Valley!

Varun Tiwari
Class of 2016

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USMC Leadership Immersion Program


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