TITLE: A Life-Changing Problem
DATE: 2/26/2010 08:49:00 AM
In my first year of business school, we were presented with the following problem (slightly modified):
A farmer in Iowa owns 45 acres of land. She is going to plant each acre with corn or potato. Each acre planted with potato will yield $200 profit; each with corn yields $300 profit. Each acre of potato requires 3 workers and 2 tons of fertilizer. Each acre of corn requires 2 works and 4 tons of fertilizer. One hundred works are available and 120 tons of fertilizer are available. What is the optimal mix of potato and corn that the farmer should plant to maximize profits?
I plugged all the numbers into an excel spreadsheet, opened the solver box, and clicked “solve”. The computer spit out the answer, 20 acres of each.
The computer modeling fascinated me. The following week, during spring break, I headed down to Even’ Star Farm. I wanted to utilize this new tool to see if I could help Brett maximize his profits. During the week, we calculated all the costs to get crops into the ground, out of the ground and to market. We then calculated the annual yields (based on previous years) and the profit. I wrote up the “case study” and submitted it to my professors.
They liked it! So much so, that they paid me retro-actively for my work; got the paper presented at the “American Accounting Association-Management Accounting Section International Case and Research Conference”; and now use the case-study in the MBA curriculum.
It was through this case-study project, that I was offered the opportunity to teach accounting at Babson, and begin the transition from chef to accountant/consultant.
A few weeks ago, I was in a Chinatown market, stocking up on pantry supplies. Looking for corn starch, I grabbed a bag and threw it in my shopping cart. I wonder if this came from that fabled farmer in Iowa??
DATE:2/26/2010 09:17:00 AM
Today's story is fascinating, but then so is yours. Which came first. Culinary school or the MBA?
AUTHOR:Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
DATE:2/26/2010 06:58:00 PM
Life can be pretty funny at times. Who'd a thunk I would be running an organization that bakes cookies, when I don't bake? The moral of the story is that you always need to be open to possibilities.
DATE:2/27/2010 11:14:00 AM
Mary -- Thank you. The MBA was about 10 years after culinary school.
AUTHOR:T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types
DATE:2/27/2010 06:14:00 PM
Of course, you have to be good at math. That question reminds me of one of those math brain teasers that always made my head hurt! So I leave those things to the professionals!
DATE:2/27/2010 09:13:00 PM
This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.
DATE:2/28/2010 02:22:00 AM
Very interesting! R recently completed his MBA and he loves talking about case studies he covered in class. It's interesting to hear how they get incorporated into the curriculum. Really sounds like a great way to learn.
I need to learn how to do this modelling. It may be something that I could use in a position I'm hoping to move to.