BYU Marriott MBA Students Win Big in Texas

PROVO, Utah – May 01, 2020 – Four BYU Marriott MBA students continued BYU Marriott’s four-year streak of top-two finishes as they won second-place at the Texas Christian University graduate supply chain case competition. The competition gave the students the chance to grow as leaders and show off their supply chain management skills as they tackled real-world business problems.

Every year, the Neeley School of Business at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, holds a case competition where graduate students across the country come to solve a prompt focused on supply chain management. The TCU graduate case competition is in its fourth year, and BYU Marriott students have placed either first or second every year. The students each received an iPad and will share a $5,000 second-place prize.

Whitney Waite, a second-year MBA student and leader of the BYU Marriott group, appreciated the chance to collaborate with a group of talented graduate students who helped her develop skills as a supply chain professional. “The case competition was a valuable experience and great opportunity to work with a team,” says Waite. “On our team, everyone’s ideas were supported, and we all felt included.”

In addition to Waite, who is from Whittier, California, team members included three other second-year BYU Marriott MBA students: Jordon Patton of Salt Lake City; Neal Ball from Fairfield, California; and Jaron Thorley of Lindon, Utah.

The four students were excited to compete against other teams from across the nation. This year the competing teams had the opportunity to work with two sponsors for the case: chain restaurant Chick-Fil-A and software company Esri. Each team was given twenty-four hours to create a supply chain management plan to solve a theoretical distribution issue for Chick-Fil-A. Graduate students were asked to demonstrate how they would deal with the supply and delivery for a restaurant in a dense metropolitan area.

In addition to tackling the distribution problem for Chick-Fil-A, the teams had to learn and utilize the Esri software in the making of their plans. The software provided by Esri, an international supplier of geographic mapping and management systems, was new to all four MBA students. Dedicated to creating the best plan they could, the team stayed awake for the entire twenty-four-hour period to learn the software and create its presentation. “We wanted to use all the time that we had,” says Thorley.

Along with their dedication to being entirely focused on the competition, Ball explained that team members had a unique approach that distinguished them from other participants in the competition. “What set our team apart was our all-encompassing approach,” says Ball. “We looked at several different factors, not just the ideas presented. We took in company culture, company values, and the company beliefs regarding safety and emissions. We showed how we could create a plan that Chick-Fil-A would actually implement.”

As the team members prepared leading up to the competition, they had strong support from faculty at BYU Marriott. Scott Webb, associate teaching professor of global supply chain at BYU Marriott and the faculty member over the competition, helped the students feel ready and excited to take on the challenge of the TCU case competition. Webb had several training sessions with the team prior to the competition to strategize the best way to approach any issues presented in the case prompt.

“Training our MBA students for this competition was enjoyable for me,” says Webb. “We talked about body language, timing of events in the competition, and how to answer judges' questions. However, these are talented students in a good MBA program, so my training for them was minimal.”

The prize-winning students are grateful to BYU Marriott for providing an opportunity and the support necessary to cultivate their professional experiences. “We have great faculty that not only help us learn materials but also support us through events like this,” says Patton. “They're willing to give up their time to sacrifice to help us to be successful. That just shows the culture that BYU Marriott provides.”

(From Left) Jordon Patton, Whitney Waite, Neal Ball, and Jaron Thornley accept the TCU graduate supply chain case competition second place award.
(From Left) Jordon Patton, Whitney Waite, Neal Ball, and Jaron Thornley accept the TCU graduate supply chain case competition second-place award. Photo courtesy of Neal Ball

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Erin Kratzer