Indiana State University Newsroom

Business students participate in mock competition

February 11, 2014


While many college students may still have been sleeping at 8:45 a.m. on a recent Saturday, some business majors at Indiana State University were hard at work preparing for a day of research, compilation, and presentation.

The Scott College of Business hosted a mock business case study competition in conjunction with APICS, the Association for Operations Management. APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management, and through its student chapters assists students interested in operations and supply chain management in preparing for careers in their future field.

"It's kind of a run through for our students and we invite other student chapters in the area to come out," Paul Schikora, professor and chair of the marketing and operations department, said of the second annual mock competition at Indiana State.

Each student was assigned to a group containing about five members. Each group was given a case based on a real-world decision faced by Polaris - a maker of motorcycles, snowmobiles, all terrain and electric vehicles. The students needed to analyze both qualitative and quantitative data relevant to a facility location decision Polaris had faced. They then made a recommendation on whether to locate a new manufacturing facility in their existing U.S. network or to relocate and build a plant in either China or Mexico.

Students had to prepare a one-page document and a five-minute PowerPoint presentation discussing why their group chose the country they did -- all within two hours and 50 minutes. In the end all three teams recommended Mexico as the location for the new plant, which it turns out is the same decision Polaris made.

Schikora said the day prepared the students for an upcoming regional competition Feb. 21-22 in Chicago.

"Most of [the students] have not been through the primary competition ... so this is an opportunity for them to get a feel for it," Schikora said.

Three student groups from Indiana State and IUPUI made their presentations and a panel of judges critiqued their work, recommending areas for improvement.

"Up in Chicago there's anywhere from 25-30 student teams and all the presentations are in a big ballroom with a couple hundred people present," Schikora said. "As a student, getting up in front of all those folks and doing a presentation could be kind of nerve wracking so we put them through a trial run here first."

Students were able to identify their strengths and weaknesses during the competition, especially after the judges' evaluation.

"Judges were spot on, I really appreciated the critique so now we know what to do in the future," Corlisha Mitchell, an MBA student from Atlanta, said. "Time was the only [challenge] here...even though it was hectic it was a lot of fun. It was proof that what we're working on in class is not in vain, it actually matters, and it was very much an eye opener for what it's like to work in stressful situations."

Clarissa Jones, a senior human resource development major from Seymour, was used to giving presentations before she went through the mock competition. She gave some pointers on her previous experience that helped her convey a clear message to the judges.

"You're not presenting to a room, you're presenting to one person and I think that's the mindset you have to get into," Jones said. "You have to present to professionals all the time and if you're not very clear about what you're saying and why you're saying it then that trust factor that you have with the people you work for kind of goes away, and trust is really huge because businesses are going to be trusting us with their data and we have to use it ethically and we have to know what we're doing."

Bringing together students, faculty and business professionals who share a common passion toward a career in supply management was central to the event, said Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of marketing and operations and organizer of the competition.

"The success of the event is resonated in the takeaways for each student participant that is a revamped approach to address a business problem through a different lens. Exercises such as these prepare our students for an ever evolving career in supply management that serves beyond a case competition," said Bhattacharyya, who serves as faculty advisor to APICS.

The event allowed each student to learn something new.

"In the Scott College of Business we're really excited that we bring students together in a friendly competition," Brien Smith, dean of the college, said. "It's these kinds of activities that I think are the hallmark of what we do -- not just excellence in the classroom, but helping students to realize how to pull it all together outside of the classroom. Like this competition, it's hands on experiences and community engagement that I think make what we do distinctive and recognized in the community, the state, and the Midwest."

Photo: - Charles (Joe) Carlson, David Deisher, and Alexis Geswein, senior operations and supply chain management majors, prepare for their presentation for a case study competition in Indiana State University's Scott College of Business Feb. 1, 2014. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - Clarissa Jones, a senior human resource development major from Seymour, makes a presentation during a mock business case study Feb. 1, 2014 at Indiana State University's Scott College of Business. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor, marketing and operations department, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2118 or

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or