Penn State Smeal wins international MBA logistics case competition

November 03, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A team of MBA students from the Penn State Smeal College of Business won the 2011 Sam M. Walton College of Business International Graduate Logistics Case Competition, held Oct. 28-29 at Sam's Club headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.  

The Smeal team of Jason Jones, Mehul Pathak, Jennifer Ruelens, Rashmi Sharma, Allison Shauger and Erlend Weggers beat out teams from nine other leading American and European business schools.
The teams received the case at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 28 and had just 24 hours to formulate their solution and prepare their presentations. The case involved a collaboration between a retailer and a consumer goods producer in which the retailer wasn't receiving the consumer goods fast enough to keep its shelves full. The teams were challenged to analyze the supply chain and recommend improvements to meet the inventory demands of the retail outlet.
To prepare for the contest, the day before the competition the teams visited a Walmart store, a Walmart distribution center and the regional offices of Unilever. They spent at least two hours at each destination, meeting the store's and distribution center's management teams as well as supply chain and marketing managers at Unilever.
During the first round, the Smeal team was grouped with the University of Arkansas, Texas Christian University and the competition's two-time defending champions from Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany. In the final round, they beat out teams from the University of Maryland and Brigham Young University. Teams from Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden also competed.
"In the finals, our team was outstanding," said Alan Stenger, professor emeritus of supply chain management and the team's faculty adviser. "Not only did they have a good solution to the case, but their presentation skills were impeccable. One of the judges for the finals told me later, 'Your team owned that platform.' "
Besides their presentation skills, which they honed in the Penn State Smeal MBA Program's acclaimed communications courses, the team also credited their organizational abilities. During the brief 24 hours they had to research, write and practice their presentation, the Smeal team managed to spare about five hours to get some rest.
Above all, though, it was their case analysis that won them the competition.
"We took a comprehensive approach to address the issues at hand," said Pathak. "Our solution wasn't just a recommendation, but a well-structured implementation plan, complete with alternative analysis and risk and mitigation components."
In addition to bringing a trophy back to Smeal's Business Building, the team members will split the first place prize of $3,000.
For more information on the Walton Case Competition, visit:


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Last Updated January 16, 2012