Regional winners prepare for Global Student Challenge Finals

2018 Global Student Challenge Logo

*Huy Tran is a Technology and Operations Management student and communications assistant for the College of Business Administration. The United States Navy veteran and current ROTC candidate is one of four members of Sparkling Lint, winner of the 2018 Global Student Challenge California Regional. Event organizers have distrubuted a formal release

“I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America...
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy ... to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve ... with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all”.  

Like most sailors, I still live by three core values: Honor, Courage and Commitment. My service in the Navy took me walking through the streets of Athens, scuba diving in Turkey and sweating on the white sandy islands of Bahrain while enjoying a cocktail.

The price for my travels was 14-hour workdays aboard an aircraft carrier. The leadership experience I gained is why I’m visiting another new country. This time it’s the Netherlands  and I’m doing it as a Cal Poly Pomona student. I’ll be representing the California in a different capacity on this trip, too.

I knew I wanted to study business at CPP. When I first enrolled at the College of Business Administration, Technology and Operations Management was the only open major. Getting involved with the student organization Operations Management Society (OMS) played a crucial role in my upcoming travels as well as my excitement about the major in general.

Through OMS, I participated in competition for college students called The Fresh Connection, where three other students and myself managed the supply chain of a juice production and bottling company. All of it.  As in an end-to-end supply chain which included material planning, production planning, operation coordination, sales planning and forecast.

During the competition, each member is in charge of a department. Everyone makes key strategic decisions in order to turn around a collapsing business. It wasn’t easy. As team leader, there was the added pressure of replacing members on three occasions between the team’s October ‘17 inception and the January ‘18 California regional.  In the first round, our team concluded the company was facing multiple capacity constraints: over-utilization of warehousing and an unaligned supply chain which ultimately lead to low service level. Our remedy was to immediately invested in infrastructure to have excess capacity over our demand.

Our strategy was successful and we turned the company around .In the second, the company’s CEO wanted to introduce one new high-margin, high-risk product.Our task was to implement a supply chain that would be profitable. In order to solve this, we implemented a much faster supply chain and predicted demand using product profiling. 

When the winners were about to be announced, my team and I felt extremely nervous as we were up against tough colleges such as Harvey Mudd and USC graduate students, whose Master program in supply chain management ranked number one. When we found out we’d be advancing to the Global Finals in the Netherlands, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. As if all the hurdles my team and I jumped over only made us a much closer and better team.

Despite winning a supply chain competition, not until recently did I learn more about my major. Participating in the Fresh Connection solidified my choice of major. I absolutely love the statistics and its applications in managing the risks of doing business.

In addition, thanks to Cal Poly Pomona’s brand of learn by doing, I was exposed to regular in-class exercises focused on applied learning. Not only did the exercises help me understand the theories better, they also prepare me for the competition as well. For example, in TOM 309, we learned about product profiling and how to forecast demand of similar product groups which I used in the regional final.

But our journey has yet to end. With the global competition date is approaching fast, the next level of competition will be even more fierce. Study sessions on decision trade-offs and The Fresh Connection practice rounds simulations purchased by the TOM Department are in my team’s immediate future . I’ll be sure to let you know if it was worth it!


I want to thank sponsors Majestic Realty Company and UNIS for support with hosting the event and travel expenses. I am also especially thankful for:

Dr. Yuanjie He, our TOM department chair, for being understanding and helpful for the situation my team and I brought up.

Tiffany Kao, our student club president, for helping my team and I to contact the GSC representatives in resolving all the issues arose during the time leading to the competition. Without her relentless support, our team would not have been able to participate in the competition. 

And finally, I want to thank my teammates:

Anelka Manukian, a freshman who was brave enough to join the competition with absolutely no knowledge of supply chain

Eric Nurwono, a fellow junior that had enough courage to step out of his comfort zone and participated.

Alanis Leiva, a graduating senior who joined the team on a short notice but performed exceedingly well as VP of purchasing.