Students win top prize for business program


Three students in the University's Center for Supply Chain Management proved victorious at a competition in Arizona over the weekend, beating out top-ranked programs to bring back the first award for the new program at the University.

School of Arts and Sciences seniors Mikhail Naumov, Arnab Sengupta and Jaysai Ghayal received $2,000 in prize money after judges at the Institute for Supply Management 11th Annual Services Conference deemed their presentation the best.

But seeing as the center is relatively new, Ghayal said the real prize was being able to network with students in longer established programs from other schools.

"It was the people at the conference and their willingness to help us out," he said. "The business cards that we got from people and the follow-ups that I've been doing are what I've been winning."

Although Sengupta holds a procurement job at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Plainsboro, N.J., he said the competition and conference proved helpful in advancing his knowledge and experience as an employee in the world of business.

"I was able to interact and network with not only people in higher positions but with students from other schools," Sengupta said. "Just to interact with them and find out how their program worked definitely broadened my horizons."

During the competition portion of the conference, the three students developed a solution for a business case study of services procurement problems, Naumov said. After their presentation on the last day of the conference, Naumov and his team defeated SCM programs from other schools such as No. 2 Arizona State University and No. 4 Michigan State University.

"Our program is not ranked nearly as high so this is a huge win for Rutgers," he said. "We came in as a complete underdog and we beat out the bigger and more established schools."

Naumov said ISM's procurement services hosted the event that also included several presentations on innovations in the SCM field by business professionals across the country.

"There are thousands of businesses around the world and in order to function, they need to buy stuff — raw materials, ingredients, insurance," he said. "That was what the conference was all about."

One of the professionals present at the conference was American Airlines Vice President of Purchasing and Transportation John MacLean, who Naumov said has complete control over the external flow of money from the corporation.

"This one individual is essentially responsible for spending $8.5 billion on the behalf of American Airlines for jet fuel and other things like that," he said.

Before the SCM program for undergraduates began in 2009, there were only four majors offered by the Rutgers Business School, which Naumov said limited options for students. Although less than 15 students enrolled in the program at its creation, Naumov said that number grew to its current status of more than 100 students.  

"By introducing a new major, we opened up a new avenue into a whole other industry for Rutgers students," he said. "It is a prize possession for the business school."

Naumov also said as the field of SCM continues to rise, so does the chance of employment for students and the attractiveness of the Rutgers Business School.

"All companies are looking at [SCM] as a way to improve their business model," he said. "Now, there is a strategic way of making purchases."

An example of using sustainable principles of SCM at the University is the practice of purchasing green materials by Kevin Lyons, executive director for Procurement Services, who Naumov said is a major reason for the success of the SCM program.

"He builds into the contract that anything that Rutgers purchases has to be sustainable," he said. "The companies have to show they care about the environment, the community and their own profit."

Ghayal said his interest in SCM came after he traveled to Haiti and saw chaos among non-governmental and relief organizations attempting to help the earthquake victims.

"Money was being poured into Haiti to rebuild their economy and help," he said. "They just weren't able to react fast enough to the money that was coming in and implement it into an action item."

If non-governmental organizations used better logistics when designing their plan for relief, many people would not have starved and damage could have been reduced, Ghayal said.

"For example, giving food to the tent villages or working with Doctors Without Borders was a complete fail in logistics," he said. "I didn't know there was a whole major in logistics at the University."

Sengupta said although he entered the Rutgers Business School as a finance major, he felt graduating from SCM would provide the fast-paced and dynamic job he desires.

"The fact that there are so many different aspects of [SCM]," he said. "It is the dynamic nature of how fast things can change or how you always have to make constant decisions is what got me interested."

Sengupta previously held several leadership roles in and outside of the University and said the SCM program is a place where this experience will prove effective.

"It is a more interactive major and field," he said. "The opportunities for leadership and project management in that field make it a very robust industry."

Ghayal said he would remember his experience at the ISM competition.

"I interviewed with Accenture today and I knew that wouldn't be possible without going to the conference," he said. "That is the real essence of why I went to this conference. It gave me the ability to have a successful career."


Devin Sikorski

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