Students use strategy, creativity at business competition

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Business graduate students competed in a competition provided by the Association for Corporate Growth on Jan. 24.

Yu

Chair of the Department of Finance and Business Law Linda Yu said ACG is an international organization that promotes growing corporations via acquiring other firms.

According to ACG’s website, the ACG cup is a case study program designed to give students from leading Master of Business Administration programs across the country the opportunity to receive real world experience handling mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity.

The ACG cup requires students to evaluate a company’s worth and make a recommendation to a panel of judges that evaluate the offer, Yu said.

Graduate student Jessica Resch said the ACG cup is a great opportunity for students to refine their skills.

“It’s very stressful, but also very rewarding,” Resch said.

Four teams competed in the UW-Whitewater intra-campus level, and the team of graduate students Resch, Spencer Gullick, Abdullah Al-qahtani and Zihao Lin  won the competition. The team will move onto the final competition Feb. 9 in Milwaukee.

They will compete against three other teams that won at other intra-campus competitions.

The ACG cup is only open to graduate students and all the students that competed were pursuing either a degree in MBA or a Master of Professional Accountancy.

According to ACG’s website, the competition is carried out nationwide through intra-campus and regional competitions, and the regional winners are awarded with a cash prize and the prestigious ACG cup title.

“Strategy is a big part of it, so the judges will be looking at what recommendations or alternative strategies the students can propose,” Yu said.  “It has to be reasonable, it has to make sense, and it has to be creative for students to win.”

Seven days before the competition, the students received their cases, and were not allowed to receive any help from faculty or mentors, Yu said.

Graduate student Candice Foley said the team has to be consistent with the models they use to evaluate the company.

“There are a lot of numbers to keep track of,” Foley said.  “There is a time crunch.  We have a week to do it and it is a lot to get done.”

Managing Director at Bridgewood Advisors Doug Marconnet and Yu have been meeting with students throughout the fall semester.

Yu said they went to training sessions in Milwaukee and they invited speakers to talk about market acquisition, evaluation techniques and presentation skills.

“Students get to develop relationships with people in the industry through their mentoring process by talking to the judges, and the networking opportunity and that relationship is going to go a long way for them in the job market,” Yu said.

The judges for the intra-campus competition were Ryan Chimenti, Vice President of Cleary Gull Inc.; Bill Goodman, President of Schenck, SC; Yu, Associate Professor of Finance; and Marconnet, Managing Director.

Yu said Wisconsin has been hosting the ACG cup for five years.  The first three years only UW-Madison, Marquette University and UW-Milwaukee participated in the competition.

UW-Whitewater joined the competition two years ago.

Resch said she would recommend other students  compete, especially students pursuing a MPA.

“I think it is very essential to have MPA students in this competition,” Resch said.  “It is very essential to have somebody that can really give you a solid background on the financial statements.”

Graduate student Spencer Gullick said the experience is good for anyone pursuing a career in business.

“If you’re going to be on a management team, you need to understand the financials, you need to understand where you stand in the market, and you to understand how to work in teams and present yourself in front of a group,” Gullick said.  “If you don’t have those experiences, this is a great opportunity.”

For the regional competition, the students will work on the same case, but new variables and factors will be added to the case.  The students will receive the new variables one week before the competition and present to a different panel of judges.

The team representing UW-Madison won the 2012 ACG Cup and received a $5,000 first place prize, and UW-Milwaukee, Marquette University and UW-Whitewater teams received $1,500 prizes as runners-up.

The regional competition is at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.