Professional image of Kathie Lee (B.A. Supply Chain Management '20)

Kathie Lee (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’20)

Work ethic, drive and self-motivation scratch the surface of what “Spartans Will” means. For a team of undergraduate supply chain management students, these characteristics translated to success at the 2020 RBS Supply Chain Innovation Challenge, where they tied with Rutgers University for first place.

The squad was composed of graduating seniors Kathie Lee and Ryan Murray, alongside rising seniors Jennifer Yoo and Charles Zhou; graduating senior Maddy Zettler served as an alternate.

Professional headshot of Ryan Murray (B.A. Supply Chain Management '20)

Ryan Murray (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’20)

“Taking the initiative to compete in a competition such as this offers the ability to apply the knowledge from their classroom learning, to sharpen their analytical skills and to network with other students and faculty,” Amy Broglin-Peterson, fixed-term faculty of supply chain management and the team’s faculty sponsor, said. “During a challenging semester, these five students stepped up and represented themselves, our department and our university in true Spartan form!”

Professional headshot of Charles Zhou (B.A. Supply Chain Management '21)

Charles Zhou (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’21)

The competition was hosted by Rutgers University and welcomed teams from six other schools: Arizona State University, University of Madison–Wisconsin, Stevens Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Syracuse University and University of Maryland. Teams were tasked with finding solutions for a fictional electronics device maker to retain market share when facing a potential loss as a market leader. The solutions had to be possible with existing technology, quantifiable and feasible.

“The MSU team developed a threefold proposed long-term recommendation set, which included developing a cloud-based product ecosystem to promote brand loyalty and boost cross-sales, implementing a blockchain-enforced crowd shipping platform to reduce domestic transit times and formulating sourcing hubs to better negotiate Tier II supplier contracts,” Broglin-Peterson explained.

Professional image of Jennifer Yoo (B.A. Supply Chain Management '21) inside the Minskoff Pavilion on MSU's campus

Jennifer Yoo (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’21)

“I think we worked together seamlessly, each contributing a roughly equal amount of ideas, research and work — that’s an incredibly rare thing,” Murray said. “We put in a lot of hard work cultivating our recommendation, and it feels fantastic to be recognized among such strong competition at other universities.”

Although the event was originally planned to be held in New Jersey, it was pivoted to a virtual format to slow the spread of COVID-19. Broglin-Peterson said how grateful she was for Rutgers faculty, staff and judges to finish the competition.

“I am grateful the students were given the opportunity to understand how their submission fared among the many competitive entries, and of course, am very proud of the placement our MSU students earned,” she said.

Professional headshot of Maddy Zettler (B.A. Supply Chain Management '20)

Maddy Zettler (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’20)

The students echoed Broglin-Peterson’s feelings in sharing their takeaways from the experience.

“It has been an honor to have been able to collaborate with this talented group and represent MSU in this case competition,” Zhou said. “The experience from this case has increased my knowledge on the importance of supply chain innovations and how they can improve a company’s operations.”

Lee added, “It was fun to be forward-thinking and futuristic. Getting to work with my peers and faculty combined with this win is a great way to end my college years!”