ABEL students at regional finals ASCM

In Collaboration with Deloitte Consulting, the Association of Supply Chain Management is organising the 2020 ASCM Case Competition for students around the globe. In a bid to hone the logistics and supply chain management knowledge that they have gained to date from their academic programme, a team of four final year students submitted an entry that convinced the competition’s panel of judges that they deserve a spot at the regional round of the competition.


The team comprises Thato Motloung, Gwen Sebopa, Banele Mello, and Bokang Lemaoana, all students from Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas) Built Environment and Logistics academy. Under the leadership of Motloung, this team will be representing the Netherlands under the flag of Breda University at the regional finals; to be hosted in Amsterdam in February 2020. At the regional finals, the team will have to solve and present another case in front of a panel of Deloitte and ASCM judges. The winning team among the 8 expected contestants will then represent the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region at the international round in New Orleans in the second half of 2020.


‘From the first to the fourth industrial revolution, companies have been facing immense disruption and these bring about complex problems for businesses. To deal with the resultant changing nature of business organisations, companies need problem solvers and innovators more than ever before,’ says Lemaoana when asked how this competition will help them in their future careers. ‘This competition tests these fundamental skills on participating student teams. Therefore, when the time comes for us to enter the job market, our progress in this competition will serve as validation for our abilities,’ he continued.


The competition started with entries being invited from teams around the world in October. These teams had only one month to solve a real business case provided by ASCM and Deloitte and record a presentation of their results. Thereafter, a virtual round was held where Deloitte and ASCM judges selected teams that will participate in different regional rounds based on presented results.


Asked how the knowledge they gained at BUas helped them solve the case they were provided, Sebopa said that their academy had been preparing them with similar cases from their first year of studies and that they thought of plenty of ways to come up with even better solutions to the case based on what they have learned, but that some of those ways could not be used because of the constraints in the data that accompanied the case. ‘The fact that we could come up with workable solutions to a real-life case and identify how our knowledge of logistics and supply chain could have better solved the case means that our academy has indeed prepared us well for the industry,’ Sebopa further mentioned.


Motloung says that their efforts would have likely not yielded the progress they have made, had it not been for the oversight role that their mentor, Mr Eric Hopstaken (lecturer at BUas), has been playing thus far. ‘We had a strong support system from our academy. Another lecturer of ours, Mr Jeff Houtepen, helped us gain deeper understanding of the problem. That was a stepping-stone towards solving the case, because if you do not understand the problem well enough you are likely to come up with solutions that do not befit it,’ said Motloung in gratitude.


All the team members are on a scholarship of merit from the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in South Africa. Mello reflects on how the team was formed and how the journey was so far. ‘Having worked together in group projects and assignments before, we realised how our skills, competencies, and characters complemented one another. Therefore, the group formation as it is was unavoidable. Working with these teammates is always a great pleasure. With the pressure of the minors that we are participating in currently and the timeframe of the school rounds of the competition, we were not sure that this would work out, but like always, we pulled through. It’s always easier working with people you understand and who understand you.’