Business & Research

"Bloomberg, in 2015, estimated that the CEO of McDonald’s earned 664 times as much as the folks working in its restaurants." Could a controversial rule requiring companies to report CEO/worker pay ratios become a political hot button next year? Read on.


It was the crux of my semester. Group assignments, midterms and consulting projects, all piling into one week of craziness. And the one thing that contributed more crazy than all the others was my involvement in a case competition.

Throughout your MBA experience, there are constant opportunities to get involved with one competition or another, especially among the ranks of top programs. Case competitions provide excellent strategic thinking and presentation experiences, exposure to a real problem and top leaders from the sponsor company, great school visibility, and, if you bring home the prize, a great resume line accompanied by a good chunk of change.

[RELATED POST: First-year MBA: Value outside the classroom]

This was my fourth case competition in my first year at Olin. At TCU and Mizzou we got the cases on site and had maybe six hours to scramble for a finished product. At Northwestern, and now Wake Forest, we received the case a week ahead and had all the time we could manage to prepare. With all the other things I was juggling at this point, I much preferred the former format. But my awesome team made the work fun.  The case tasked us with developing a strategy and implementation plan for attracting millennials to work at CVS corporate. In the end, my team powered through a few late-night meetings and submitted our presentation right before flying out to Wake Forest University for the competition and accompanying Marketing Analytics Summit. But then…

Do you remember that week this spring when Delta cancelled hundreds of flights over the course of a week because freak bad weather in their Atlanta hub knocked them for a loop? Yeah, that was our week. Yeah, we were flying Delta. To cut a story of 5 A.M. stress short, we ended up driving 12 hours from St. Louis to Winston-Salem. Although we missed all of the summit activities, it was actually a fun trip with plenty of time for team bonding and the chance to interview people at CVS stores across the eastern half of the country. At least we arrived in time for the competition.

Team Olin on the road to Wake Forest: Samantha Feng, MBA’17, Ryan Kirk, Karthik Chaturvedi, Cole Donelson and Raisaa Tashnova all MBA’18.

By the time we are ready to present our case, I always feel like the hard work is over. However, right before our time slot comes up and the team is doing a final run through, I’m always wishing we had a few more minutes to rehearse. Like it or not, the Wake Forest student coordinator knocks on the door to our assigned study room, and we are guided to the presentation room. It’s a gorgeous room where we are arranged to present facing a wall of windows looking out into the quad as well as at least a dozen judges from CVS and other prestigious marketing positions. Our PowerPoint is already loaded and showing on the screen. It’s show time.

After a quick 20-minute presentation and 10-minute Q&A, it was all over. I felt proud of our recommendations and confident in our delivery, but it only matters what the judges think and it’s hard to anticipate their perceptions. It was an accomplishment just to beat out dozens of other MBA teams who applied for the competition (with our masterpiece application video). Plus, with other teams from Yale, University of Chicago, Notre Dame, USC, Duke, etc., the competition was stiff. The last presentations wrapped up, and we were shuttled away to the awards dinner at a fancy country club nearby. The dinner was great, the chance to meet other students was fun, but at the end of the night everyone was waiting for one thing. The competition director held up the first big check and at the same time he flipped it around to show the name, he said, “Third place goes to Washington University in St. Louis.”

We were very hopeful, but also very surprised to hear our name called. In a rush of excitement we went up to accept the check, shake hands, and take a few photos. More than the $3,000 third place prize, it was the validation of our hard work and the value of our output that was most rewarding.

I’d be lying if I said we didn’t think we had put up a first place effort. But we were happy to congratulate the team from Hong Kong and the home team and reigning champion from Wake Forest on their respective second and first places.

After all, it’s all about the learning experience, right?

Wake Forest Marketing Analytics Summit

Eight graduate and six undergraduate teams from around the globe competed in the 27th annual Marketing Analytics Summit case competition for total prizes of $56,000. The event was held at the Wake Forest University School of Business April 7-8, 2017.

Participating schools at the graduate level included Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Business School, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School, and Yale University. Undergraduate teams hailed from Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management, University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, Utah State Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and Wake Forest University School of Business.




For Anheuser-Busch InBev, it’s difficult enough to manage the most efficient beer supply chain in the U.S. As they acquire an ever-growing number of craft breweries, the complexity of their distribution increases dramatically. But with extremely accurate production planning and time-tested transportation methods, the largest brewer in the world is able to spread the joy of delicious craft beer to the farthest corners of the earth.

Chris Pickett, Senior Director of Tier 1 Warehousing & Transportation, paid a visit to The Boeing Center to talk about his role in AB InBev’s operations. He shared insights on effectively integrating craft beers into a macro beer supply chain, as well as managing load complexity and shipment quantities across brands.

Product mix complexity is managed by AB InBev using three main strategies. First, they use rigid cycle production to maximize output for each SKU. Second, they plan pallets using optimized order quantity, which helps them to meet wholesaler demand using the fewest number of shipments. Third, they build pallets using proprietary technology in the warehouse environment, ensuring the most beneficial product stacking patterns. All of these techniques allow AB InBev to manage an efficient supply chain, while maintaining an extremely high service level for their craft beer offerings.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

• • •

A Boeing Center digital production

Supply Chain // Operational Excellence // Risk Management

Website  • LinkedIn  • Subscribe  • Facebook  • Instagram  • Twitter  • YouTube




Brand-new customers pose an interesting challenge to marketers in this era of big data. Marketing strategy and tactics are often driven by valuable insights gleaned from past customer data collected over time from repeat purchases and transactions. But newly acquired customers arrive without a data trail. Is it possible to predict the future behavior of new customers?

As a doctoral student in marketing, Arun Gopalakrishnan seized on this challenge to create a new computer model to provide guidance to managers who want, and need, to forecast newly acquired customers’ behaviors. Gopalakrishnan began this research as part of his doctoral studies at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and completed the research at Olin Business School where he is an assistant professor of marketing. His paper won the 2017 Olin Award for faculty research that impacts business.

Working with two professors at Wharton, Gopalakrishnan developed two cross‐cohort models (called vector changepoint models) that introduce a new framework for analyzing data that reveals insights into patterns of customer behavior over time.

Specifically, the new models reject the notion that pooling data from all previous customers to make an educated guess about the behavioral patterns of the newest customers provides an accurate forecast. In other words, the researchers found that new customers are not simply going to behave like the “average” existing customer. That assumption, according to the researchers, “ignores the potentially changing behavioral patterns” from one set of customers acquired during a certain time period to another.

The new mathematical model takes into account what it calls “regime changes” or past customer behavior changes that were influenced by new firm policy, government regulations, economic factors, competitors’ actions, or unknown drivers of change.

“Our findings suggest that simply using older cohorts [sets of customers acquired in the past] as a proxy for predicting new cohorts without understanding any potential regime changes may lead to inaccurate predictions because certain aspects of customer behavior may have changed, going from the oldest customer cohort to the newest one.”

When tested against other models, the Olin Award–winning research model/forecast tool outperforms other benchmarks. It can be applied to any industry that acquires customers who engage in repeat transactions over time. The new model also simplifies the process of mining the data.

Link to research summary and paper.




Robert A. Pollak, the Hernreich Distinguished Professor of Economics (joint appointment with the college of Arts & Sciences), has been named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association (AEA). The Distinguished Fellow awards recognize the lifetime research contributions of distinguished economists.

Robert Pollak

Robert Pollak

Robert Pollak’s research interests include environmental policy, demography and the economics of the family. Pollak is the author of numerous articles in professional journals and three books: From Parent to Child: Intrahousehold Allocations and Intergenerational Relations in the United States (1995, with J. Behrman and P. Taubman), Demand System Specification and Estimation (1992, with T. Wales), and The Theory of the Cost-of-Living Index (1989). Pollak is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Econometric Society. He is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Link to Pollak’s faculty page.

Link to post about Pollak’s recent research on Health, Human Capital and Domestic Violence”

Link to a list of current and past Distinguished Fellows.

About the American Economic Association
The American Economic Association (AEA) encourages economic research, issues publications on economic subjects, and encourages perfect freedom of economic discussion. With more than 20,000 members, the Association publishes the American Economic Review (AER), Journal of Economic Literature (JEL), Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP), and American Economic Journals (AEJ): Applied Economics, Economic Policy, Macroeconomics, and Microeconomics. Link here for more information.

Source: AEA Press Release