Krannert School of Management students are continuing to live up to the school’s prestigious name.
The Kraft Foods Group corporation held its first Data Dive competition, in which five Krannert undergraduate students made up the winning team.
“I picked a team of five students from my class to participate and compete in one category – segmentation,” said associate professor of management Mohammad Rahman. “They won, beating graduate students and MBA master’s students from other Big Ten universities like Northwestern, Indiana University and other Chicago area schools.”
The knowledge the students brought into the competition was primarily what they learn from Rahman’s MGMT 488 class, which teaches electronic commerce and information strategies.
“We didn’t do anything (to prepare) except spend time understanding Kraft’s business model,” said Rahman.
This non-stop, 23-hour competition started on Saturday morning, with rules that contestants are not allowed to leave the building or premises. The competition provided computers and analytic tools for the students.
“They were not allowed to take in anything except their brain,” said Rahman. “Their work was actually real data from Kraft from their consumer database.”
The spring semester of 2015 was the first time Rahman offered this class.
“What I’m teaching is all the e-commerce-related concepts,” said Rahman. “It’s hands-on; I make them work on assignments where they have to work with practical data.”
Kraft doesn’t allow the contestants to discuss what they have worked on in the competition, but one of the judges told them he admired the team’s data-analytic approach.
“We were shocked to hear our names announced for the win,” said junior in managing information systems Rachel Crouch in a Krannert news release. “It was even more shocking to learn the judges had selected us unanimously. A judge approached us after the announcement and commended our mathematical approach, an approach taught to us in MGMT 488 this semester.”
The techniques Rahman teaches his students are close to his research and he is passionate about e-commerce related issues.
“What I tell my students is that when you look at business problems, it’s hard to say that (one thing) is the solution, but what you can say is that I am using the right approach to reach a good insight,” said Rahman.