Students take a top spot in global business competition
The 4flow Case Study Competition, which expanded to North America this year, awarded third place to a UM-Dearborn graduate student team.
The international 4flow Case Study Competition expanded to North America in 2020. And a UM-Dearborn team grabbed a top spot, right behind Rutgers and Georgia Tech.
UM-Dearborn Wolverines did more than showcase their adaptability and knowledge in the supply chain competition, which took place last month; they were also major players behind the scenes.
4flow — a German company specializing in supply chain, software and consulting — previously only offered the opportunity for graduate-level students in Europe and Asia.
But when meeting with College of Business alumnus Mike Dworakowski — a consultant at 4flow — last year, Operations Management Associate Professor Yi-Su Chen inquired about U.S. teams participating and said COB would sponsor a team. Dworakowski, a former student of Chen’s, said he’d see what he could do.
“Well, he made it happen,” Chen said. “When Mike was a student, he took part in business competitions that I coached. He knows how important opportunities like this are. I am always looking for new experiences for our students and am so happy we can now compete.”
Chen said 4flow’s contest gives students a chance to play a consultant role and learn what it is like to work on a real-world project. The competition has students draft a logistics proposal outlining a program idea (this year’s focus was to implement a grocery store chain’s delivery service) and give cost analysis, implementation strategies and resulting profit margins in two weeks.
M.B.A. student Dovile Fiodorovaite, who is a logistics planner for DanLaw Inc., has a Six Sigma Green Belt and years of work and school experience. But she said the 4flow Competition was a challenge unlike anything she’s experienced before. In addition to the rigor of the competition, COVID-19-related restrictions added a layer of difficulty.
“There was definitely a learning curve. We didn’t all know each other and we couldn’t meet in person. At our first Zoom meeting to prepare, we all felt like we were in over our heads. But we took it one step at a time, divided tasks based on our strengths, and were open to advice and criticism given in our team and by our mentors. Of course we would have loved to have been first, but my personal goal was to place in the top three. And we did that.”
Chen and Dworakowski, ‘17 B.B.A., mentored the UM-Dearborn team that included College of Business graduate students Fiodorovaite, Camille Allensworth and Sayali More and College of Engineering & Computer Science graduate student Harish Prakash.
Chen is proud of her students, saying the experience will serve them well in the future — and that was her overall goal for this experience.
“After COVID 19, many things are going to be different even after we go back to normal. Due to travel restrictions, the business world needed to adapt and now knows that product and service delivery can be done successfully in a virtual environment,” Chen said. “Having students create and present a proposal from start to finish while working remotely gives an added layer of preparation for the future. It’s always important to look for new opportunities for students because our job is to help get them ready for what’s next.”