Business students place first in competition

By Alexander Murphy

A team of Cal Poly Pomona business students took first place in the APICS’ West Coast Student Case Competition, competing against undergraduate and graduate student divisions from 14 universities across the world. The team will represent the Southwest District at the APICS International Conference and Expo in Las Vegas this October.

Two student squads from CPP competed in the undergraduate division. The team that placed first included technology and operations management students Kirk Baghdassarian, James Saga, Erik Jorgensen and Tiffany Kao.

A second CPP team finished in fourth place. The technology and operations management students on the team were Alonso Franco, Aaron Gomez, Yadira Perez and Gilbert Pineda.

APICS or American Production and Inventory Control Society is a professional association for supply chain and operations management and hosts competitions involving real-world applications within the business sector involving the sales, operations and purchasing and supply chain aspects.

This year’s competition involved developing and executing a turnaround strategy for an underperforming juice company from the vice-presidential position of the company. The teams used an online simulator called the “Fresh Connection,” and presented their research and strategies.

Teams were judged and evaluated on their presentation, which needed to include areas of strategy formulation and execution, decision making, relevancy and whether supply chain management principles were applied to meet strategic goals of improvement.

Hassan Halati, a technology and operations management professor and advisor to the teams, , feels very grateful to have gotten this far in the competition.

“I’m so proud of them considering the competition they had is from some of the greatest schools,” said Halati. “I don’t have doubts in the abilities of our students. I feel very proud.”

Halati also mentioned that the magnitude of CPP’s team success in the competition is also of praise.

“The most important thing to note is that they beat all the undergraduate and graduate schools,” said Halati. “They didn’t ask for any help from us, and took it in their own hands. All we could do was support them.”

Baghdassarian, a fourth-year technology and operations management student, feels justified in his team’s efforts in making it to nationals.

“It’s really exciting to be able to compete on a national stage,” said Baghdassarian. “We’re really proud to represent CPP and look forward to returning victorious.”

The regional competition had four rounds overall. Student-team performance in these rounds, in addition to the presentation, determined the winner.

“After the second round, when we came in first place again, we began to realize that our strategy might actually lead us to win it all,” said Baghdassarian. “That really got us going to make sure we came in first place.”

Tiffany Kao, a first-year technology and operations management student, was very excited to participate and learned a lot about how companies operate.

“Because the competition was a simulation of a company, I feel that it helped me understand what to expect and how the company runs in the real world,” says Kao. “Even though I am only a first year and haven’t had any real world experience or taken any Technology and Operations Management classes, I learned a lot from this competition through playing the simulation and from my teammates.”

Schools within the undergraduate and graduate division in the competition included University of San Diego, University of Southern California and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

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