The contestants came from Minnesota, Ohio and Maryland as well as from Arizona, Pennsylvania,Arkansas and even Darmstadt, Germany. But in the end, the hometown team prevailed. A team of MBA students from the University of Wisconsin's Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management won the 7th Annual International Graduate Logistics Case Competition held earlier this year. This is the second time Wisconsin has won since the event's inception in 1998.
This year's challenge was to come up with the best proposal for improving the supply chain operations at Tricon Global Restaurants (now Yum! Brands), the operator of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants. Specifically, the teams were asked to analyze Tricon's supply chain structure and the costs incurred in doing business in China. Judges came from Harley-Davidson Motor Co., W.W. Grainger, Schreiber Foods, Miller Brewing, Guidant Corp. and Pfizer.
"The case competition serves many purposes," says Ted Bouras, the event organizer from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "First, it's a great way for the students to showcase what they've learned in the classroom and during their internships, and to have it evaluated by executives. Second, it allows students and representatives from various MBA programs to meet and network. And, finally, the competition provides employers with a tremendous opportunity to see students in a pressure-cooker situation. Hiring managers tell us that they want to hire students who are excellent communicators, work well in teams, are creative problem solvers, can handle ambiguous situations, and think quickly on their feet. The case competition allows employers to evaluate our students across this skill set, right before their eyes," he notes. "These are skills that are hard to evaluate during a traditional 30-minute campus interview."