On Wednesday, they met each other face to face for the first time. On Thursday, they took first place in a worldwide global supply chain simulation and competition called The Fresh Connection (TFC).
Aaron Ramos Reyes (from Colombia), Andrea Tretti (originally from Italy but now working in Vietnam), Carlos Mira Padilla (from El Salvador), and Ivan Rogério Gameiro Roumeliotis (from Brazil) had spent plenty of time collaborating, exchanging messages, and working together online while they were enrolled in the MITx course “Supply Chain Technology and Systems,” offered by the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL).
During their course of study earlier this year, the team decided to do an optional learning simulation, TFC, within the course. They performed so well in their simulation they were invited to enter into the team-based global challenge where they beat out more than 300 mostly corporate sponsored teams (including teams from some very recognizable information technology companies). That win earned the four tickets to Lisbon, Portugal, to compete in the global professional finals.
When they arrived in Lisbon for the finals, they say, their transition from a virtual relationship to a real one was simple. “We already knew and trusted each other,” says Roumeliotis. This, he adds, was the key to their success in the competition. “We had to make the decisions really fast, and we didn't have time to make all the calculations or double-check the other guys’ work. We had to trust each other.”
"While other teams were arriving hours early, the MITx students were very relaxed, enjoying breakfast,” says Connor Makowski, digital learning lead for CTL’s MicroMasters courses in supply chain management, who attended the competition. “Their focus was not on winning the competition, but on building a good strategy, performing well and having fun.”
While every other team in the TFC competition was named for its country of origin, the MITxteam earned a different moniker from the event committee: “United Nations.” The 10 finalist teams each participated in several rounds of a simulation at the Tivoli Oriente Hotel in Lisbon. Teams endured five rounds of the competition, eventually having to strategically collaborate with one or two other teams during the last round. The MITx group decided to collaborate with their top two competitors, allowing them to learn more about their approach.
“This competition allows students to make decisions in different areas of the company and see how these decisions impact performance.” says Eva Ponce, executive director of the MITxMicroMasters in supply chain management program. “I was delighted to see the enthusiasm and the high performance that led our learners to the win.”
The team won tuition waivers for an MIT Executive Education course for taking first place at the competition. They also earned widespread recognition for their work. “It was a very good networking opportunity. My LinkedIn account is flooded with new contacts!” Roumeliotis says.