The Bowersox Supply Chain Challenge is an annual case competition hosted by Michigan State University. The 2017 edition, held on the 12th and 13th of October, saw six teams participate – Michigan State, Arizona State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State – based on invitations sent out by Michigan State to the top supply chain masters programs in the country. The event saw Arizona State win by the slimmest of margins, with Penn State taking second place. The Penn State team was represented by four second year MBA students – Divyadeep Bansal, Sahil Jain, Abhishek Kumar and Ajit Smiles.
The case competition itself involved an end-to-end supply chain simulation proprietary to Michigan State. The team was made in-charge of a company involved in the manufacturing of chemicals, and through the simulation, we had to make supply chain decisions for this organization, including choice of suppliers and quantities, production decisions and product mixes, inventory mixes, and sales and distribution decisions. Post a networking dinner on Thursday, we had the opportunity to play around with the simulation, and bring ourselves up to speed on how we would approach the simulation the next day, when the competition actually kicked off.
The team was thrown a curveball the next day, however, at the start of the competition. We had to make new decisions about our fictitious organization, which increased the complexity of the simulation considerably. We also had to make thirteen rounds of decisions, representing thirteen weeks of operations, within just three hours. The team dug deep, started analyzing the data provided, and began churning out decisions. Our KPIs included Revenues, Supply Chain Contribution, Inventory Turns and Fill Rate. At the end of three grueling hours, we were informed that we took second in Revenues, first in Supply Chain Contribution, fourth in Fill Rate and fifth in Inventory Turns, losing out to Arizona State by a score of 0.1 in the end.
Overall, the team had a great experience at Michigan State. The case competition gave us an end-to-end perspective of supply chain strategies within an organization, from procurement and production all the way to warehousing and distribution. Our advisor, Prof. David Huff, was instrumental in helping us prepare mentally for the competition. Michigan State were amazing hosts as well, and made sure our stay was comfortable. This was a great way to challenge and strengthen our supply chain understanding, and we recommend the competition highly to future MBA teams.