UC Business Analytics students excel in Amend Consulting case competition

Five Lindner College of Business teams impress panel of judges and leadership with innovative, applicable solutions

In November of 2018, Amend Consulting introduced a case competition to Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBANA) students at the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business. The competition challenged student teams to help solve a business problem for one of Amend’s clients, StairTek, a major distributor of prefinished and unfinished hardwood stair parts. The project sought to explore cost variation of raw materials and provide insight into significant predictor variables, allowing StairTek to benchmark their raw material costs over time and make data-driven purchasing decisions.

Each team participated in two feedback meetings with an Amend consultant who advised them on their direction and answered any questions that came up as they progressed. These meetings, held in late December and early January, addressed questions about the business case and the data, allowing students to review the methods and scope of their analysis.

On Jan. 11, five teams presented their unique solutions and plans of action to Amend Consulting and StairTek. The first place team, consisting of Prakash Dittakvi, Tingyu Zhao, Nadimpalli Ramana Kumar Varma, and Shashank Bekshe Ravidranath, received an award of $350. “This team used a very impressive application of machine learning,” stated the judging panel. “Their technical abilities produced a very interesting tool, but what won them the competition was their consideration of the tool's audience. The insights spoke directly to the decisions being made and simplified a complicated process.”

The second place team, comprised of Husain Radiowala, Megan Eckstein, Anusha Chintakunta Manjunatha, and Joe Ratterman, received a $150 award. “This team consolidated a wide-ranging array of insights and dirty data into a clean dashboard that illustrated some very interesting themes within StairTek’s purchasing process,” commented the judges. “The visuals answered many of StairTek's questions and supported more informed dialog and decision-making for StairTek management.”

“We were amazed at the tools UC's MS-BANA students created in just three short weeks,” said StairTek Interim Controller and CFO, David Clark. “They uncovered invaluable insights about our business, and we now have data at our fingertips which will help us better negotiate pricing with our vendors and manage our inventory. I can only imagine the number of companies in the Cincinnati region who could benefit from the talent in UC's MS-BANA program.”

About StairTek

StairTek is a major distributor of prefinished and unfinished hardwood stair parts. Stairtek has grown to a multimillion-dollar operation, distributing everything from small custom orders to large truckload orders. With facilities in Erlanger, Kentucky, we are able to ship unfinished and prefinished stair parts to our customers across the country.

About the Lindner College of Business

At the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, we are committed to developing the next generation of business leaders. Through personalized career coaching and experiential learning, our students graduate with a competitive advantage in the workforce and are strongly positioned to address a multitude of today’s global business challenges. For more than 110 years, we’ve not only served as a catalyst for innovation and cutting-edge research, but our programs have also earned national acclaim in several academic areas. The best is yet to come in 2019, as we celebrate the grand opening of our new state-of-the-art building that promises to firmly position Lindner as one of the best business schools in the nation. We are Cincinnati’s extraordinary college of business.

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