2022 Deloitte Supply Chain Case Competition team

What better group to tackle a supply chain challenge as all-encompassing as COVID-19 vaccine distribution than a team of MBA students representing three very different countries around the world?

For Ana Carolina Sousa, Hamza Azhar, Barbara Fernandes and Eric Sette, the Deloitte Supply Chain Challenge provided the Full-Time MBA students an opportunity to work together on a pair of supply chain-related challenges. The result of their teamwork? A first-place finish at the national competition, held virtually, where they topped teams from Georgia Tech, Howard University, Penn State, University of Houston, University of Tennessee, University of Wisconsin and Wichita State University.

The team discussed their journey to the finals, the benefits of having diverse perspectives and educational and work backgrounds and how their MBA experience helped them along the way.

Question: How were the various experiences and perspectives represented among your team helpful throughout the competition?

Ana Carolina Sousa (team captain): For the first-round case, which was about the COVID vaccine supply chain, we actually had the perfect match of experiences. We had backgrounds in consulting, operations, health care and geopolitics, so we were a great fit and used our strengths to move on to the national round. In that phase, the case was actually a very straightforward manufacturing supply chain problem. We had to help an electronics company improve its customer responsiveness while maintaining or improving its supply chain cost structure.

Fortunately, we had all just finished our core operations class in the first semester, so we were able to use our combined knowledge of operations analyses, inventory management and waste elimination, along with Eric’s outstanding skills on financial modeling, to deliver a complete solution that really impressed the judges.

Q: Describe the relevancy of the challenges you were asked to solve. Did that provide any extra value to the case competition experience?

Ana Carolina Sousa: Being able to work on the COVID vaccine supply chain challenge was definitely something that added extra value to the competition. We were able to reflect a few months back and think of how companies had to address this real-life, complex problem urgently and efficiently so lives could be saved. It was a great experience and we learned a lot about the impact of efficient supply chains to the world.

Q: Summarize the solution your team presented in the finals.

Ana Carolina Sousa: We addressed the main problems drawn from the case in an end-to-end digital solution. Our recommendation was supported by three main solutions: algorithmic demand to address their forecasting errors (we used data from the case to calculate how much forecasting errors was costing the company); analytical inventory management to minimize disruption and avoid last-minute premium-priced purchases; and digital lean manufacturing, to increase operational efficiency and reduce production costs. One interesting fact about the three solutions we proposed is that they are all offered by Deloitte consulting services. We used many of their own articles about supply chain to back up our research.

Q: Describe the team’s reaction at being named the competition’s winner.

Ana Carolina Sousa: It was an amazing moment, really! We got into the call with high hopes, because of all the work we put into it, but we were also uncertain that it could be enough to win since we were going against so many strong schools. They announced the third and second place, which were very strong schools, and after announcing the second-place team, the judges told them they had lost because they did not have a financial model to back their recommendation. At that moment we realized we had won because we put a lot of work into building a financial model. We were just out-of-this-world happy when they finally announced us as winners.

Q: How do you see this experience helping you as graduate students and, eventually, as a professional?

Hamza Azhar: As an international student, the first semester can be quite challenging in terms of adjusting to the new culture, making friends and navigating through the overwhelming course load of the MBA program. However, participating in the case competition early on as a team allowed us to bond well with each other. As the timeline was short, we met for long hours storming, norming and brainstorming to come up with solutions while leveraging each other’s strengths.

In addition to enhancing our soft and hard skills, participating in the case competition allowed us to network with business professionals and industry subject matter experts. We were able to learn from their experiences and take their guidance, which was very helpful in our internship search. Moreover, this experience also helped us in understanding the U.S. work culture and corporate environment better, and helped polish our skillset, which goes a long way.

 

The Team

Ana Sousa headshotAna Carolina Sousa

Country: Brazil

Undergraduate Degree: Chemical Engineering

Work Experience: 5 years, management consulting

 

Hamza Ahar headshotHamza Azhar

Country: Pakistan

Undergraduate Degree: Electrical Engineering

Work Experience: 4 years, oil and gas

 

Barbara FernandesBarbara Fernandes

Country: Brazil

Undergraduate Degree: International Relations

Work Experience: 5+ years, corporate intelligence

 

Eric Sette headshotEric Sette (BS ’20)

Country: U.S.

Undergraduate Degree: Biology

Work Experience: 3 years, clinical research