ECAM students take part in the Global Student Supply Chain Challenge

In May 2019, 4 ECAM Lyon engineering students shined brightly in the ‘Global Student Challenge’ Supply Chain competition. The only French engineering school to take part in the event, the team from ECAM Lyon finished in 13th place out of 27 contenders. We sat down with the finalists – Alexandre, Nicolas, Ruben and Séverine – all of whom are 5th-year ECAM Arts et Métiers students.

Why did you take part in this competition?

This competition enables us to put into practice the skills acquired in the “Supply Chain” class module that we took in 5th year of our ECAM Arts et Métiers program. The supply chain is an essential part of our general-purpose engineering education as it provides a broad overview of the production process, from supplies and sourcing all the way up to sales. Our teacher, Jérôme Pocachard, is the one who told us about this competition. ECAM Lyon had also hosted the creators of the “Fresh Connection” game, used as part of this global competition, a few months beforehand.

What does the competition involve?

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Held in The Netherlands, the Global Student Supply Chain Challenge 2019 pitted 27 teams from around the world. We were the only French engineering school to take part in this year’s edition.

Featuring two major rounds in the form of a serious game, the competition aims to save a fictional company from bankruptcy by making strategic decisions:

  • “The Fresh Connection”: manage the company’s supply chain through 4 roles (purchasing, sales, production and supply chain management).
  • “The Cool Connection”: this 2nd round focuses on the financial aspects of the supply chain

For each phase, the aim is to obtain the highest possible Return On Investment (ROI). The overall ROI obtained determines where you finish in the final rankings. Our team finished 9th in the first round and 16th in the second, coming in at 13th place overall.

How did you organize your work during this challenge?

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We split up the roles: Alexandre took care of Purchasing, Séverine dealt with the Supply Chain, Nicolas with Production and Rubens with Sales. Each of us had to make decisions and deal with the various problems that came up in our distinct fields. For example, the Purchasing session was focused on ensuring the quality of products from suppliers, the Supply Chain session focused on stocks, Production on machine maintenance and Sales on the management of orders. With each round, we always began by analyzing the data collected by each department, then we put this data together with the problems to be solved before deciding on what actions to carry out.

The main difficulty was understanding the “Cool Connection” part, which was geared towards finance.

We sometimes had to make decisions based on instinct, which is very disconcerting when we have to anticipate the impact of our choices.

What did the competition bring you for your future engineering career?

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First of all, we met a lot of great people with diverse profiles and backgrounds. We were able to build our network, namely internationally, and make interesting contacts within the supply chain sphere. Moreover, taking part in a competition of this scale brings additional credibility to our résumé. This rounds out the certification we obtained during our class module and adds extra value to our general-purpose curriculum. Finally, during the competition we had the opportunity to attend highly informative conferences and roundtables on supply chain issues as well as to visit companies such as the Heineken production facility and KMPG, the world leader in supply chain consulting.

This competition is a unique, extraordinary opportunity for students. It made me want to work in the supply chain industry even more.