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Rutgers Business School students are top winners at Institute for Supply Management case competition

Three Rutgers Business School students won the Institute for Supply Management’s annual indirect procurement case competition in Phoenix.

The undergraduate supply chain management students – Dwight Gonzales, Sheryll Moser and Alexandra Preziosi – were required to analyze a lengthy case involving GlaxoSmithKline’s spending on contracted legal services and recommend ways the company could better manage its spending on litigation.

"We knew we had a good chance of winning," Moser said. "We were very competitive, and we had some good ideas, but we also knew we had a lot of strong competition."

Paul Goldsworthy, a supply chain management instructor who advised the team, said the students came up with a unique way of scoring law firms that would help company executives determine if a legal case could be better handled by outside lawyers or inside counsel. The team applied lessons from their procurement classes as well as Six Sigma techniques to the case.

"Our ideas evolved over time," Moser said. "We looked at the case over and over again."

The students, who had never worked together and hardly knew one another, said they instantly clicked and easily shared ideas and opinions about their strategy. "We had really good chemistry," said Preziosi, who was the only student from the New Brunswick Campus on the team.

That chemistry made it possible for the three students to continue to challenge one another, which resulted in their work getting better and better. "It was one of the best group experiences I’ve had,” Moser said. "Our personalities and our skill sets were very balanced. It made it very easy to work together."

The strength of their ability to work as a team was evident early on after Preziosi told her team mates she had strong analytical and writing skills, but she was weak in the presentation area. "If you need something written, then I’m your girl," Preziosi told them.

Gonzales and Moser were both strong presenters, but they needed Preziosi to feel comfortable, too.

Gonzales, who has participated in previous case competitions, said it was "critical" that Preziosi get more comfortable and confident for the competition. "I wanted the whole presentation to flow smoothly,” he said.

Gonzales and Moser encouraged her to practice on her own and in the days leading up to the competition, she rehearsed her presentation before them. "They were extremely encouraging," Preziosi said.

"We were all helping each other along the way,” Gonzales said. “Up until the last minute, we were going over the case and trying to make it better.”

The competition, which took place Dec. 4, pitted the Rutgers students against teams from Arizona State, Michigan State, the University of San Diego and Western Michigan University. The conference doubled as an opportunity for the students to network with more than 100 representatives from companies in the procurement industry.

It is the second time in five years a team from Rutgers Business School has won the top prize in the ISM case competition. This year, each of the students received $1,000 in prize money.

Moser, Gonzales and Preziosi participated in the case competition as a condition of winning scholarship money from ISM last spring. And each of them attended a series of Saturday classes to help prepare them to compete at the institute’s competition. 

"Since my first full semester at Rutgers, it has been my goal to win a case competition," Gonzales said. "I wanted to bring that prestige back to Rutgers."

"I still catch myself smiling at the memory of winning,” he said. "It was the greatest feeling."