Supply chain project with Unilever challenges Evening MBA students to think outside the box

The goal of the Global Supply Chain and Innovation Enterprise, also known as gSCIE, is to give Kelley Evening MBA students an experiential lesson to challenge what they’ve learned throughout their programs and to improve their supply chain expertise, while enhancing their overall managerial skills.

“The experience gathered in gSCIE can be applied to our organizations—not only the technical tools that we acquired and can identify in our companies, but also the skills needed when a challenge involves multiple departments such as sustainability, packaging, and procurement in multinational companies,” said Evening MBA student Shirley Echeverria Molina. “We also gained the ability to deliver very complex projects in very tight timelines with very limited resources.”

“gSCIE gave us a chance to really think outside of the box without knowing what the right answer was,” said Raquib Hussain.

Hussain is an Evening MBA student who works as a financial analyst at Cerner.

“We gave the company recommendations to help achieve its goals, and now we get to see if these recommendations are implemented and successful," he added.

Two teams of five Kelley Evening MBA students consulted with Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London. One of the first companies to go zero-waste-to-landfill (ZWTL), Unilever wanted to both improve and share its sustainability best practices with the industry. While one student team tackled the challenge of sharing best practices, the other worked to determine how Unilever could utilize post-consumer recyclables, or re-use materials recycled back from the consumer.

“We were able to provide Unilever a compelling, data-driven argument to achieve something the company thinks is important but for which it’s been facing significant resistance from other parts of the company,” explains Hussain. “We were also able to provide the company useful information regarding the landscape of the United States in relation to post-consumer recyclables.”

Students drew upon what they’d learned about the value chain of products, finance, and problem prioritization to solve the challenges faced by Unilever. And, like any consultancy work, it was unpredictable.

“The project was not smooth at all the stages,” said Molina. “We overcame some communication and logistical barriers, which showed us how real-life consulting engagement can be when working with outside clients.”

“I'm excited to add this project management work to my list of abilities and accomplishments,” added Hussain. “Now I'm less intimidated to tackle issues for which I have no existing knowledge. gSCIE has made me more likely to take on challenges that force me to push myself.”