Who's Got Talent? Student Case Competition
Proceedings — Session: CC-1
2011 ISM Diversity Summits
February 9-11, 2011
Boca Raton, Florida
Presenter: Shelley Stewart, Jr., CPSM, CPO & senior vice president — operational excellence, Tyco International
Judges: Philip White, senior consultant, Nitor Partners; Tiffany Hickerson, sourcing manager, A.T. Kearney; G. Sean Williams, associate director — global facilities sourcing, Bristol Myers Squibb
At the 8th Annual Black Executive Supply Management Summit in Boca Raton, Florida in February, the five-member team representing Howard University in Washington, D.C. took home the first-place prize of US$5,000 in the annual student case competition. This winning team consisted of Viola Welang, Kari Guy, Aliah Kennon, Tarik Everett and Damon Ingram.
The 2011 case study, developed by A.T. Kearney, asked teams to develop a due diligence plan for a European financial investor. This investor wanted to know if Tiger Company, a codenamed worldwide manufacturer of commercial laundry and equipment, was a good financial investment. Teams were told that the investor client was primarily interested in whether or not Tiger could increase its revenues and profits over the next five years.
To develop their cases, student teams were provided with an investment case, industry overview, company overview for Tiger and project scope. They were judged on three main criteria: identification of pertinent issues, quality of analysis used to support their recommendations and quality of their presentation.
The Winning Combination
The team from Howard University began by addressing the investor's main question: whether or not Tiger could increase its revenues and profits over the next five years. "This was a critical question, and they answered it. They said 'no,'" explained competition judge Philip White, a senior consultant at Cleveland-based Nitor Partners, who was part of the winning team for the 2008 case competition when he was a student. "Then, they laid out their recommendations for making Tiger more profitable, as they were asked to," White added.
To frame its recommendations, the team laid out a detailed plan for Tiger to increase its Asian market share from 1.02 percent to as much as 9 percent, including:
- The production of higher-quality (more energy-efficient, digital interface) products
- Switching to anodized carbon steel, which is half the price of steel
- Investing in product innovation, including card-operated machines and consolidated washer/dryer units
- Acquiring struggling competitors in Asia to increase manufacturing capabilities and distribution network. Team members projected that Tiger could increase its revenue by as much as 50 percent in five years as a result of such acquisitions.
The team also recommended a recycling incentive program for Tiger's distributors and direct sales that gives customers credits for turning in their machines, which are largely composed of plastic and steel — both recyclable materials.
Going even further, it recommended that Tiger develop a technology that captures and reuses the kinetic energy produced by the washing machines' spinning motion, and then make it proprietary to the company.
White appreciated the team's thorough due diligence analysis, which projected slow company and financial growth, as well as acknowledged an effective management team, as demonstrated by the fact that the current team had increased cash flow by nearly 300 percent since it was put in charge.
White was especially impressed by the quality of the team's assumptions. Among these, the team assumed the investor was looking for double-digit growth on revenue and net profit each year, that the investor wasn't interested in acquiring Tiger, that Tiger would maintain the same market share in each region and that its effective management team would be maintained. "Assumptions are OK, as long as you let us know you made them and why," he said. "They've got to be defensible."
White also appreciated the team's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of Tiger, which evaluated the company's free cash flow, customer value, labor cost, brand image, material costs and competition, among other factors. "Not only did they have a SWOT analysis, it was concise," White emphasized.
Of the presentation itself, White was impressed with its clarity. "We wouldn't even have had to read the case to know what was going on," he said. "That was a bonus."
Finally, the team's recommendation time line was a major factor in its victory. "They mapped it out so that there would be no movement of operations into China until the fifth year," he said.
Competition spokesperson Shelley Stewart, Jr., CPSM — CPO and senior vice president of operational excellence at Tyco International — echoed White's sentiment.
"Although there wasn't one 'correct' answer to this case, I will say this: It takes at least five years to do just about anything in China," Stewart explained. "Most of the other teams only allotted one year to move operations there."
Securing the second-place position — and $2,000 in scholarships — was the team from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. Team members were Janay Carver, Carl Crum, Jamael Harris and Funbi Oluwole.
Third place position ($1,500) was awarded to the team from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia: Valerie Fomengia, Devin Hairston, Brittany Howlett and Jason Moore.
In fourth place ($1,000) was the five-student team from Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee: Nicole Crowell, Shannon Kirk, Juliet Martin, Disraeli Smith and Brian Waritay.
Fifth place ($500) went to the team representing Tennessee State University in Nashville: Kwasi Agbabli, Seth Burkhart, Chika Chimezie and Henry Onyebueke.
About ISM Diversity Summits
Every year since 2009, ISM's Black Executive Supply Management Summit (BESMS), Hispanic Supply Management Summit (HSMS) and Women Executive Supply Management Summit (WESMS) have been co-located. Collectively, these events represent the annual ISM Diversity Summits experience hosted by Tempe, Arizona-based Institute for Supply Management™.
All three summits were developed as forums for diverse executives in supply management to come together and share their unique perspectives. Summit attendees learn from thought-leaders and change agents within their fields and representing leading organizations.