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Krannert undergrad students beat MBA teams in Kraft Data Dive

Kranalysts - the winning Kraft Data Dive team from Krannert
Kranalysts - the winning Kraft Data Dive team from Krannert. Members from left to right: Isa Watanabe, Rachel Crouch, Michelle Wang, Kristen Spina and Lukia Chen.

Five undergraduate Krannert students won the inaugural Kraft Data Dive Competition, beating several teams of graduate students from Chicago-area business schools as well as teams from other Big Ten universities. The students are all taking Professor Mohammad Rahman’s Electronic Commerce and Information Strategies (MGMT48800) course and credit their success to experience with real-world data analytics problems covered in class.

“When we realized that we were competing against MBA students, we automatically assumed that we were underdogs. The difficulties we ran into during the competition seemed to confirm it as well, however, we persevered,” says Rachel Crouch, a junior majoring in Management Information Systems.

Kraft gave each team a huge amount of proprietary data and a real-world business problem to solve in just 24 hours. Teams were provided with technical support and industry software to use for their research, including RStudio, SAP Predictive Analytics, Tableau, SPSS, and more. After analyzing the data and coming up with a solution, teams had 10 minutes to present their findings to a panel of judges.

“We were shocked to hear our names announced for the win,” Rachel says. It was even more shocking to learn that the judges selected us unanimously. A judge approached us after the announcement and commended our mathematical approach, an approach taught to us in MGMT48800 this semester.”

If the class prepared them for the competition, another key to victory was the strategic composition of the team. Students were invited to participate by Professor Rahman. Isa Watanabe, a senior in Accounting and Management Information Systems, explains, “Each member of our team had a different academic path and each one provided a unique insight that went towards our final presentation. Data dives are a great opportunity for students in different majors to work together to generate real business insights.” 

Lukia Chen, a senior majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems, says the team chemistry was important. “We trusted our teammates, we believed in teamwork and we kept persisting and working hard until the last minute of competition.”

Rachel and Isa stayed up all night querying data while Lukia, Michelle Wang (a senior in Management and Finance) and Kristen Spina (a senior majoring in Management with a focus in Marketing) prepared the analysis and PowerPoint presentation. Rachel says, “I think we would all agree that our win can be attributed to perseverance, teamwork and continuous encouragement from our Kraft team host and Purdue alumni Michael Halfman.”

 “The MC of the competition told us that we were actually one of the teams they were worried for in the early morning hours – we had discovered an error within our network connection to the Kraft consumer database that set us back 3-4 hours. It was just an amazing experience.”