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Circular Knitting

Villanova wins first-ever national analytics case competition

Company’s Champion brand challenged graduate and undergraduate students from 11 universities with real-world scenarios to test their analytics skills

27th February 2020

Knitting Industry
 |  Winston-Salem, NC

Knitted Outerwear

© Hanesbrands.

After a weekend of intense competition, a collegiate champion was crowned at the first-ever national analytics case competition held at Elon University. Villanova University topped 10 other teams to win the title and the first-place prize of $6,000.

The Elon Center for Organizational Analytics partnered with HanesBrands, owner of Champion athleticwear, to host the Champion Analytics Case Competition. The winning team, led by Meredith Lockyer, director of the Center for Business Analytics at Villanova School of Business, included sophomores Sean Oates, Padraig Loftus and Bryan Kent.

“Partnering with Champion always brings tremendous excitement to our campus,” said Haya Ajjan, associate professor of Management Information Systems at Elon University. “Hosting our first-ever national analytics case competition offers an incredible opportunity for students to compete against the best in the country and learn from some of the top professionals in the industry.”

In advance of the competition, teams were presented with a problem and data set that included historical Champion sales data. Based on this information, the teams were asked to develop estimated sales patterns and projected demand for 20 new products during a 13-week period, including a full analysis of the projected performance of the products.

“Analytics case competitions require a combination of technical analysis and business acumen that really test the teams’ ability to analyze complex real-world scenarios,” said Ben Martin, chief data analytics officer at HanesBrands. “Participants have to bring a certain level of curiosity to the competition and translate the highly analytical work into actionable business recommendations.”

Teams from East Tennessee State University and William & Mary finished second and third place, respectively. Other schools fielding teams, which consisted of three students and an accompanying faculty member, included Arizona State University, Auburn University, Elon University, Loyola University Maryland, UNC Greensboro, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, University of Tennessee and Wake Forest University.

This marked the third year HanesBrands has sponsored an analytics case competition at Elon, but the first time the competition has been opened to other schools. Although most participants were majoring in fields closely associated with business analytics, the competition also featured students in computer science, accounting, statistics, finance, international business and more.

“The case competition demonstrated a level of student engagement that was second to none,” said Jon Ram, group president of global activewear at HanesBrands. “All of the participants put forward a strong effort. We witnessed our leaders of tomorrow approaching a challenge with keen insights and sound business fundamentals. It was energizing to be part of this valuable initiative.”

Each team gave a 15-minute presentation to a panel of judges on Saturday morning. Each was judged on the quality of the solution and whether they adequately addressed each of the questions presented; analytic methodology and modeling; delivery of presentation; and responses to questions from the judges. Based on the presentations, four teams were chosen to compete in the next round.

Finalists were given 2 ½ hours to solve a new problem. Using the 13-week projected demand data from round one, students were asked for a full evaluation of the starting inventory numbers for the 20 new products. The case competition winners were selected after presenting solutions to this problem on Saturday afternoon.

“Each of the finalists presented strong solutions that delivered real business insights relevant to Champion, and they did so without the business context of working on the brand day in and day out,” Martin said. “It was a true testament to the potential for data analytics.”

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