University of Tennessee

Haslam Students Win National Supply Chain Case Competition Two Years in a Row

April 28, 2017

Emma Bexon, John Robinson and Zachary Thress examined large datasets to identify trends in global trade.

The student team from the Haslam College of Business recently won the annual Intermodal Association of North America’s logistics and supply chain case competition for the second year in a row. Hosted by the University of North Florida, the undergraduate competition took place in early April.

Team members from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, included seniors Emma Bexon, John Robinson and Zachary Thress. Bexon has already landed a post-graduation position, but she thinks her participation on the team will help her long into her career.

“Learning about what is actually going on in the industry is fascinating,” she said. “Knowing how to tell a story through a presentation is such a useful skill to have.”

Haslam students have won or placed second every year they have entered the competition since 2010. Diane Mollenkopf, the McCormick Associate Professor of Logistics, and Stephanie Eckerd, an assistant professor of supply chain management, coached this year’s Haslam team.

“Because Haslam won the competition last year, the judges were probably tougher on our team than usual,” Mollenkopf said. “But they said our students were the clear winners and dubbed Haslam ‘The Team to Beat.’”

The case for this year’s competition involved examining large datasets to identify trends in global trade. Mollenkopf said that the students’ ability to go beyond the assignment and make predictions and recommendations based on those trends distinguished them among their peers. She credits the supply chain curriculum’s focus on strategy as well as the students’ hard work, with their advanced abilities. 

“Our faculty contextualizes our teaching within the global business arena,” Mollenkopf said. “Then the students put a lot of time and effort into honing their analysis skills and learning how to put everything together into a strong, coherent and convincing story.” 

Eckerd also lauded the months of preparation the students undertook before the competition. “It is not so much that the team won as they earned first place at this competition,” Eckerd said. “They worked incredibly hard.”

Eastman Chemical Company sponsored the team, paying for the students’ travel expenses. The eight judges were all executives within the transportation and intermodal industry. Haslam students competed against six other major supply chain schools: Auburn University, Georgia Southern University, University of Arkansas, University of Maryland, University of North Florida and the University of North Texas.