Master’s in Business Analytics Students Earn First Place in Case Competition

MSBA students took first place in a student case competition during the Inmar Analytics Forum

A team of students from the Wake Forest Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program took first place in a student case competition during the Inmar Analytics Forum. The 2019 Wake Forest University Graduate Business Analytics Competition was presented by the School and sponsored by Inmar.

Student teams from seven colleges across the country were challenged to use data analytics to solve a supply chain optimization problem for a fictional running shoe company. The teams received cost data, shipping costs, forecasted demand, and other variables to evaluate. Drawing insights from the data, the students redesigned the company’s supply chain operations while considering the trade-off between cost efficiency and customer service.

“This case was a good example of what we deal with multiple times a year with multiple clients. It was probably as close to a real business situation as you could get,” said Curtis Greve, vice president of remarketing at Inmar and one of the final round judges. “I thought all the students presented well-thought-out solutions and you could tell they put a lot of work into the competition. I’d be happy to hire any of them.”

The first-place team of Max Davis, Stephanie Delaney, Andrew Bowers, Mathias Talbert, and Forest Richardson, all Wake Forest MSBA students, received a $12,000 cash prize funded by Inmar.

“This case competition was a great example of what the Wake Forest MSBA program emphasizes,” said Davis (MSBA ’19) whose undergraduate degree is in engineering. “We are taught to draw insights from the data or the problem, and then challenged to find a solution and be able to illustrate why it’s a good one. This program teaches us to ask the right questions.”

Richardson (BS ’18, MSBA ’19) credited the MSBA program’s blend of business acumen and data-driven classes as important factors in helping the Wake Forest team succeed in the competition. “I feel proud knowing that our hard work paid off and that we get to share this award with each other. We encouraged each other through the competition,” she added.

A five-member team from Duke University placed second in the competition and received $8,000. The University of Denver’s team placed third, earning its four members $5,000.

A semifinal round held at the School narrowed the field from seven competitors to three. The semifinal judges included: Oz Tuzcu, senior director of analytics and insights from VF Corporation; David Evans, vice president of pricing strategy at Inmar; and Ben Martin, chief officer, advanced analytics and global planning at Hanesbrands, Inc.

A panel of judges representing executives from Inmar chose the first, second, and third place winners in the final round. The panel included Rob Zomok, executive vice president of global operations; Rob Small, senior solutions expert, supply chain analytics; Curtis Greve, vice president of remarketing; and Jeff Clouse, director of data science.

Final round judge Jeff Clouse was impressed with how the students dealt with ambiguity. “There was a lot of information in this case that just wasn’t there. Each team took a slightly different approach in how they dealt with the missing information. They did a really good job breaking down the impact of the shipping side and the customer service side.”

“Companies like Inmar are making a bigger push in analytics so this challenge was a good fit,” said Jeff Camm, associate dean of business analytics at Wake Forest University School of Business. “The case is based on a real problem and the students get to communicate in a pressure situation and work together as a team.”