CBA Students Represent USA in Supply Chain Final

Logo for Global Student Challenge

By: Dana Feuer

Four students with Cal Poly Pomona College of Business Administration’s Technology and Operations Management became intercontinental travelers on their quest to win a logistics competition that attracted top universities from around the world.

Manuel Rivera, Michael Liu, Tiffany Kao and Denis Shumnik, all TOM majors with student organization the Operations Management Society, advanced to the global finals of the Global Student Challenge in Windesheim University Zwolle in Netherlands following a win in the regional finals hosted by University of Southern California.

“We never had a mindset of making it to the finals,” Kao says. “We went along with the competition and did what we thought was best for the problem at the moment.”

Throughout the different stages of the competition, team members adopted the role of vice presidents with a company going through bankruptcy. As the stakes increased, hosts would continually pose new restraints that have fallen upon the company. Scoring was determined by how teams responded, handled and recovered from the compounding obstacles.

The concept of the simulation is similar to the curriculum for BUS495, according to the team.  Rivera (purchasing,) Kao (finance,) Shumnik (supply chain) and Liu (sales) maintained their respective positions to preserve continuity.

“It was crucial to discuss our strategy throughout the competition when making decisions,” Liu says. “Each round, we would communicate as we worked to make sure our decisions align.”

The team’s blueprint for success at regionals--where they navigated through a cutthroat field including a U.S. News & World Report Top 10 undergraduate program and Top 5-ranked undergraduate and graduate logistics program--was threatened by unforeseen circumstances when it came time to head abroad for the final.

Increased restrictions on international travel dealt two serious blows to the team when Shumnik and the team’s advisor, Professor Yuanjie He, Ph.D., were unable to get cleared in time for the last-minute trip. Both connected virtually through Skype during the event.

“The first couple of days were very competitive,” Liu says. “This was my first time going overseas; it was the best experience of my life. I am still constantly bringing it up in conversation.”

Within a 500-year-old church an hour outside the capitol of Netherlands, the next two days consisted of two 90-minute rounds each morning. Although Associate Dean Wyrick accompanied the group as interim advisor, the handicap of only having remote access to two valuable contributors ended up knocking the team out of the top three.

“I continue to thank the college and our supporters for this amazing competition,” Liu says. “My biggest take-away was the multinational networking opportunity. Not only did we, the students, have a chance to showcase our abilities on a global scale, but we also had the rare opportunity of formulating relationships with future professionals across the world.”

With the competition behind them and Rivera and Shumnik graduating, the remaining two members are thinking ahead in how OMS will participate in the competition next year. Both agreed adding a finance major would address a lot of challenges and unknowns. Ideas on how ways to ensure a trip back to the global finals are already being churned. 

“Now that we know what we are doing, we can form two or three teams; try new strategies and see how far the teams get,” Kao says.

Event organizers have uploaded photos from the Netherlands competition to this Facebook album.