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KGI Team Advances to Regionals for Supply Chain Management Competition

A team of first-year Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) Supply Chain Management and Biotech Operations Club (SCOP) members have qualified for the regional rounds of the 2021 Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) Case Competition, which will take place in mid-February. The team members consist of Master of Business and Science students Gabriela Estupiñán, Johnathan Ventura, Jovanny Guzman, and Lizeth Rivas Ayala, with faculty adviser Ed Arnheiter.

Participating teams presented solutions to an exciting end-to-end supply chain management problem. The cases involved distribution, logistics, sales and operations planning, inventory, and other operations management challenges.

The team entered the contest in November. They were presented with a hypothetical case involving a supply chain issue and given a month to find a solution, detailed in a presentation that had to be under five minutes.

The case is broken up into three parts. First, the team must evaluate which suppliers pose the most risk and which pose the least risk. Next, they must refocus their inventory to prioritize supplies needed for the pandemic, such as medicine and vaccines. Finally, the teams have to identify whether there is any capacity constraint for the new facilities due to the sudden increase in demand for their products and recommendations on how it should meet the increase in demand.

To rise to the challenge, each of the teammates brought their strengths to the table.

“I made sure that we were all communicating in a way that we got to know each other on a more personal level instead of just making it strictly about the business aspect,” Ventura, MBS ’22, said. “We became better teammates in a way because once you get to know everyone, you can see everyone’s weaknesses and strengths more clearly.”

Guzman, MBS ’22, brought his patience, which was particularly crucial when tackling the third part of the presentation.

“It takes patience to go through the pathways and each step that’s required to make the vials and syringes,” Guzman said.

Rivas Ayala, MBS ’22, tackled some of the trickier supply challenges and applied them to real-world situations. At the same time, Estupiñán, MBS ’22, used her leadership skills to keep everyone on track.

“I sent out way too many text messages and group meeting reminders,” Estupiñán said. “I also bounced around to see if I could help with anything. I think we’re all in the same boat in the sense that this is new material to us just because our first supply chain class is this coming semester.”

One of their biggest challenges was realizing just how many potential solutions there are to a supply chain issue.

“When we started the case, I had this idea that it was all going to fall together really nicely and the puzzle pieces would essentially line up,” Estupiñán said. “As we were doing it, though, I realized that every single team probably had a very different solution.”

The next round in February will be even more challenging in that they will only have seven hours from the time they are given the case until they submit their presentation, thus accomplishing in one day what they did in 30 days for this round. However, SCOP President Benjamin Nittayo, MBS ’21, believes they are up to the challenge.

“I’m really proud of the team because I think back to my first year and how hectic it was, and there wasn’t even a pandemic,” Nittayo said.

Faculty adviser Arnheiter seconds this emotion.

“I am very proud of how everyone pulled together and created a quality first-round submission,” Arnheiter said.

“They did a great job analyzing a hypothetical pharmaceutical glass manufacturer, including assessing the capacity constraints for its new manufacturing facility. The ASCM case competition, held in collaboration with Deloitte consulting, is a challenging annual event that draws teams from top-tier schools across the country. I wish our team the very best going forward to the regional round!”