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Championing Supply Chain Excellence: A Triumph at TCU Case Competition 2024

Sajal Dixit, MBA '24 describes his victory alongside teammates Juhi Goenka, Tobias Kern, and Saurabh Pappu at the Texas Christian University Supply Chain Case Competition in February 2024.

By Sajal Dixit

April 5, 2024

Greetings! Have you ever felt the thrill of competing against some of the best minds in the country, especially in the exhilarating field of supply chain management? Well, let me take you through our incredible journey that concluded with us winning the prestigious TCU Supply Chain Case Competition 2024 (Feb 22-24) in Texas. This story is not just about victory; it’s a testament to teamwork, strategy, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and let me take you behind the scenes of this remarkable experience.

Every year, the TCU Supply Chain Case Competition gathers bright, ambitious, and forward-thinking students from business schools across the United States. Picture this: 16 teams from various corners of the country, each bringing their unique approach to supply chain management, and all converging for a showdown that promised to push our limits and expand our horizons. The Wisconsin School of Business participates in this competition every year and this year, I was fortunate to represent my university at this event. My team and I, a spirited group of four from different walks of life but united by our passion for supply chain management, decided to throw our hat into the ring. My team (I couldn’t have asked for a better one) was comprised of three other students, Juhi Goenka, Tobias Kern, and Saurabh Pappu, and assisted by our center director, of Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management, Jake Dean.

Tobias Kern, Juhi Goenka, Sajal Dixit, and Saurabh Pappu outside the Neely School of Business at TCU

The Stage is Set with a Networking Dinner

The first day kicked off with a networking dinner. This wasn’t just any dinner; it was our first opportunity to size up the competition, and more importantly, to make some friends. Amidst the clinking of glasses and the exchange of pleasantries, you could sense everyone’s excitement and nerves. It was a wonderful icebreaker, setting the tone for the collaboration and camaraderie that would define the next few days. I got a chance to meet sponsor companies, some business professionals of Texas, and professors and other administrative people of TCU Neeley School of Business and exchange some business insights. The main showstopper was the mascot of TCU, horned frog. He was there for our silent entertainment. Now it was a time to get a sound sleep to face the next 36 challenging hours. Before going to bed, we decided to fill up our stocks with some energy bars and drinks to make us energized for next 2 days; Walgreens next door was a savior.

The Real Challenge Begins

On the bright morning of the second day, at precisely 9:30 am, we were handed the case we needed to solve. The clock started ticking — we had 24 hours to submit our strategy. It was a moment of adrenaline rush mixed with a dash of anxiety. The case was comprehensive, covering intricate aspects of the supply chain, operations management, logistics management and business strategy that demanded our utmost attention and skill. As we knew this was going to be long day, the priority was to make us settled, get comfortable and be in the right mindset for the approach. We took time to read the case, understood the specific nuances and the challenge questions the case asked us to solve. Making the timelines beforehand helped us in shaping our strategy. Additional challenge was introduction of a new supply chain software (which no one from us had ever used before) in forming our solution.  We kept analyzing various possible solutions, and it was 7 PM where our full-fledged solutions flushed out. I realized that we were slightly behind the timelines in formulating the recommendations, but I knew that if we were able to justify our solutions with research backed analysis, industry insights and staller presentation, we will make it through. Those 24 hours were a whirlwind of brainstorming, analysis, and relentless teamwork. Our room was a chaos of papers, laptops, empty coffee cups, and energy drinks — a testament to the hard work we were putting in. It was during these moments that our team’s strength shone through. Despite the looming deadline, our spirits were high, punctuated with bouts of laughter and mutual support.

First Round Presentation

After submitting our solution, the first round of presentations began next morning. We had couple of dry runs before and were confident enough to stand solid, but as they say, the big stage makes you nervous. Standing in front of the panel of judges (supply chain industry experts) and our peers, presenting our ideas, was a nerve-wracking yet exhilarating experience. We’d put our heart and soul into the case, and it was time to defend our solution. The judges liked our approach, recommendations, and team bonding. And guess what, our hard work was acknowledged as they announced us among the top 5 teams to move up into the Championship round. It was a happy moment, but at the same time, came with extra expectations to do better in the final round and sealing the top place.

The Championship Round

By the time the championship round arrived, our confidence had soared, but our energy was sunk. We decided to relax for a bit and then team-up again to fine-tune our presentation based on the feedback and we were ready to give it our all. The competition was fierce, with every team bringing their A-game. However, when we finally delivered our presentation, it felt like everything clicked into place. It was a moment of triumph when our name was announced as the winners. The feeling of achievement and recognition was unparalleled. We hugged each other at the podium.

Sajal Dixit, Juhi Goenka, Tobias Kern, and Saurabh Pappu hug at the podium after receiving first place.

Victory and Celebration

The culmination of the competition was the reception dinner at the hotel rooftop. The atmosphere was electric, with everyone in high spirits. The view was gorgeous, the drinks were amazing, but what made it truly special was the feeling of camaraderie with other students that had developed over the past three days. We celebrated not just our victory but the spirit of learning, friendship, and the shared passion for supply chain management.

Reflection on our Win

Winning the TCU Supply Chain Case Competition was a monumental milestone for me. We emerged from the competition not just as winners but as learners who had gained invaluable insights and experiences. Such competitions are not merely academic exercises. They serve as a crucial platform for practical learning, networking, and personal growth. For anyone aspiring to make a mark in the supply chain industry, participating in these competitions offers a unique opportunity to challenge oneself and grow.

In conclusion, this victory at the TCU Supply Chain Case Competition is a cherished memory and a significant achievement in my academic and professional careers. It reflects the culmination of hard work, ingenuity, and teamwork. To anyone contemplating participating in such competitions, my advice is simple: Embrace the challenge, trust in your abilities, and let your passion drive you towards excellence. Who knows? The next victory could be yours!

by Sajal Dixit, MBA ’24