Student consultants and their client benefit from case study.

Team members conducted some of their research on site at CCT’s warehouse.

As a relatively new company, CCT Global Logistics couldn’t afford to hire consultants to evaluate an efficiency challenge they’d encountered. Nor could they afford to take valuable staff time to deal with it. A solution presented itself in the form of four students in the Downtown MBA program, offered in the College of Business Administration’s Chapman Graduate School. For the students enrolled in Distribution Channels, taught by Fred Hernandez, adjunct professor, Department of Marketing, it was a real-life case study—a chance to apply what they were learning in class. For CCT, it was an unexpected boon.

“The manner in which they presented their research was astonishingly accurate.”

Christian M. Ollino, CCT managing director, CCT

Team member Lourdes Matta presents at CCT.

“We were extremely impressed with the group’s level of professionalism,” said Christian M. Ollino, CCT managing director. “The manner in which they presented their research was astonishingly accurate concerning where we have an opportunity for improvement in our logistics and distribution operations.”

More work means bigger payoff.

The team consisted of Alejandro Aristizábal (BA ’01), Lourdes Mata, Carlos Ramos, and Faun Whalen.

Alejandro Aristizábal shares findings from the team’s efforts.

“We visited the warehouse to understand the movement of products and talked to employees to feel what they were feeling, rather than coming in with just a theoretical understanding,” said Aristizábal, a forensic social worker in a jail diversion program. “Not only did we learn a great deal about the company’s distribution channel in Latin America, but also we had a wealth of networking opportunities.”

The team’s presentation to CCT elicited an immediate positive response: Ollino called a staff meeting the next day to start applying the students’ ideas.

The experience confirmed Hernandez’s long-standing interest in taking students beyond typical case study exercises.

“Traditional Harvard Business School-type cases are great, and most of the students opted to do them,” he said. “However, real life experience in a new field, especially in a new subject, served for these students as a tremendous learning process. Though it was more time consuming, it enabled them to do the kind of analytical work MBAs do and to understand more immediately and first-hand the importance of supply chain management in a real situation.”

The student presenters, their professor, and their client celebrated the success of the presentation over a dinner party, which included, from left to right: Carlos Ramos, Faun Whalen, Fred Hernandez, Christian Ollino, Lourdes Matta, and Alejandro Aristizábal.

Given the success of this initial effort, Hernandez hopes that other companies will contact him to engage students in a similar activity. Ollino, too, wants to repeat the exercise.

“I hope to have another chance to get a group to perform yet another efficiency project such as this one,” he said. “I also hope my competition doesn’t have the same advantage until we are up to speed.”

Learn more.

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