McCombs Teams Dominate at National and International Case Competitions

Ashley Akin, Swetha Davuluru, Anushka Madhuvarshi, and Rebecca Ortiz

This past weekend, McCombs sent a team comprised of four BHP sophomores, Ashley Akin, Anushka Madhuvarshi, Swetha Davuluru and Rebecca Ortiz to the University of Washington Global Business Case Competition in Seattle. The competition featured a short and long case. The UT Austin McCombs Team won their bracket for the short case and took second place for the long case.

Twelve teams from around the world competed at the event. The competitors included American University of Beirut (Lebanon), Maastricht University (Netherlands), Peking University (China), Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (Ecuador), Thammasat University (Thailand), Universidad Panamericana (Mexico), University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong), University of Sydney (Australia), Western University (Canada), University of Arizona and University of Washington. The long case focused on global expansion for Amazon Web Services. The winning team was Thammasat University, but Texas was a close second.

“We were so much more invested in the product of our work because we had a whole week of bonding with the other participants,” said Rebecca Ortiz. “It was humbling to hear the experiences that led each international team to Seattle, and to present to a full auditorium about a case that particularly challenged us. When selecting the countries for our solution, we had to consider so many factors, yet create a cohesive strategy and story. The fact that there were no overlapping countries presented by the four finalists really shows the diversity of thought we saw during the week.”

Also this month, the USC Value Investing Group hosted its third annual USC Stock Pitch Competition and two UT teams took home first and second place. Twenty teams from across the country competed. Eric Sun (BHP sophomore), Nick Marchenko (BHP freshman), Dhruv Dhuper (BBA freshman), Joseph Buschmann (BBA senior), and Bryan Goh (BBA junior) took first place. They are all members of the University Securities Investment Team, a group which also financed their travel to the competition. Daniel Chen (BHP Senior), Michael Everett (BHP junior), Jackie Ye (BHP junior), and Reese Davis (BHP junior) took second place at the event.

“Competing at USC was an amazing experience,” said Eric Sun. “We got to meet a lot of students from around the country and watched some amazing stock pitches. Given the caliber of everyone there, we were shocked and ecstatic when we made it into the finals and even more so when we won! I definitely learned a lot from this experience and know more about the economics of the international tobacco market than I ever thought I would.”

Congratulations to all of these students on these impressive wins!

Eric Sun, Nick Marchenko, Dhruv Dhuper, Joseph Buschmann, and Bryan Goh

BHP Teams Take Home Top Honors at Case Competitions

Phoebe Lin, Ananya Rajesh, Catherine Cheng, and Megan Tran-Olmsted

A team of four BHP students took second place at the William & Mary National Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit this past weekend. Phoebe Lin (junior), Megan Tran-Olmsted (junior), Ananya Rajesh (sophomore), and Catherine Cheng (sophomore) competed against 16 teams from across the world. All teams were required to pitch a long thesis on a publicly traded stock. The McCombs team pitched on EnPro Industries (NYSE: NPO), and took second place, behind the University of Sydney.

This was UT Austin’s first time attending the competition, which is one of the only competitions of its kind. The team was thrilled to win second place. “The most rewarding part of attending national stock competitions is having the chance to interact with students interested in investing across the nation. This time around, we had the opportunity to speak to teams from across the globe – that aspect was really cool,” said Tran-Olmsted.

Another team comprised of four BHP juniors participated in the Berkeley Investment Conference this month, a stock pitch competition. The team took first place, competing against 10 other teams, from schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Washington University in St. Louis, Virginia and Cal-Berkeley. Reese Davis, Michael Everett, Karna Venkatraj, and Jackie Ye learned a great deal from the experience. “It was really exciting to network with students from around the country, as well as getting to pitch to notable industry professionals and esteemed academics who offered insightful feedback on our investment idea,” said Venkatraj.

Congratulations to both teams, and thank you to BHP alumni who help support student travel to case competitions such as these by giving to the BHP Excellence Fund.

Karna Venkatraj, Jackie Ye, Michael Everett, and Reese Davis

Meet the Board – Part 3: Rachel Silverstein, Chris Crump, Joe Shields

This is the third of a series of posts we will be doing dedicated to introducing you to our BHP Advisory Board. The BHP Advisory Board is comprised of around 20 alumni representing a mix of class years, occupations and locations. The mission of the board is to drive continued excellence of the BHP and development of leaders through advocacy, connection, and engagement. The board will be ambassadors for the program in their communities, support fundraising objectives, and assist with recruiting the top students in the nation to the program. Board terms are two years. We greatly appreciate the service of these alumni to BHP!

Rachel (Robinson) Silverstein, BHP 2010, started her career in corporate finance at large public companies such as Dell and American Express. The large company experience gave her a great foundation and the opportunity to live in new places like New York City and Singapore. Luckily, she found her way back to Austin a few years ago where she has been leading financial planning at Snap Kitchen, a healthy food start-up. At Snap Kitchen, she has learned that she thrives in a high-growth environment where she can have a direct impact on the company’s future success. She also enjoys being back in Austin as it has allowed her to get more involved with the university and with BHP.

Chris Crump spent 22 years at Accenture, 12 of those as a partner in their Strategy practice. After preaching change management to clients, he decided it was time for a change himself, so he took a sabbatical with no plan. This time away has given Chris the opportunity to experience opportunities that might not have happened without pushing back from the corporate world.  For example, Chris’ current adventure is a one year program at Harvard University called “The Advanced Leadership Initiative.”  This program is designed to prepare experienced leaders to take on new challenges in the social sector with the goal of making a greater societal impact than they perhaps did in their working careers.  With greater appreciation for pressing topics such as climate change, health care, inequality, and education, Chris will leave the program ready to apply his learnings for positive change starting in 2019.

Joe Shields works for McCombs Enterprises in San Antonio, where he’s primarily involved in the operations of Red McCombs Automotive, comprised of six car dealerships and ancillary businesses.  Joe focuses on the group’s marketing efforts and business strategy.  In addition, he helps in the management of oil and gas operations through McCombs Energy, real estate development through McCombs Properties, and private equity investments through McCombs Partners.  Between graduating from UT and moving back to San Antonio, Joe worked in Austin for the Circuit of The Americas, a McCombs Partners investment, as the Track Rental Coordinator.

Applications for the BHP Advisory Board are accepted once a year in the Spring. If you have feedback for our current board, please reach out to our board chair, Michael Daehne.

Meet the BHP Board – Part 2: Craig Bondy, Edith Li, Narayan Bhargava

This is the second of a series of posts we will be doing dedicated to introducing you to our BHP Advisory Board. The BHP Advisory Board is comprised of around 20 alumni representing a mix of class years, occupations and locations. The mission of the board is to drive continued excellence of the BHP and development of leaders through advocacy, connection, and engagement. The board will be ambassadors for the program in their communities, support fundraising objectives, and assist with recruiting the top students in the nation to the program. Board terms are two years. We greatly appreciate the service of these alumni to BHP!

Craig Bondy is a managing director for GTCR in Chicago. He has been with the company since 2000. Previously, Craig worked in the investment banking department at Credit Suisse First Boston in both Chicago and London. Craig is co-head of the Technology, Media & Telecommunications group at GTCR and is currently a Director of Fairway Outdoor and Simpli.fi. In addition, Craig was previously a Director of GTCR’s past investments including Avention, CAMP Systems, CellNet, DigitalNet, Landmark Aviation, Six3 Systems, Solera, TransFirst and VeriFone. Outside of GTCR, Craig spends significant time as a board member working with Communities In Schools of Chicago, a non-profit organization that connects public school children with free social, emotional, health and enrichment programs

Edith Li graduated from BHP in 2004. She is currently a manager at Par Pacific, Inc., an energy and infrastructure business, where she oversees the internal and external financial reporting for the company.  Previously, Edith was a financial reporting supervisor at HighMount Exploration & Production, LLC, an oil and gas exploration and production company, and a senior financial reporting analyst at The Brock Group, an industrial specialty service provider. Prior to her industry experience, Edith spent nearly four years at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where she was led audit teams working with companies in various industries, including oil and gas, manufacturing, and hospitality.

Narayan Bhargava currently serves as Business Development Officer at The SDB Group. He graduated from BHP in 2010. SDB is involved in several different facets of the oil and gas industry from manufacturing to distribution to exploration. He also acts as president of two SDB subsidiaries and co-director of another. Further, Narayan is principal at Venture Fuel Partners, a VC firm focused on early stage investing. He is serving as treasurer and youngest director for the National Association of Steel Pipe Distributors (NASPD), is a board member for the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH), and for the Houston chapter of Magic Bus, an NGO that raises social awareness among children in poverty-stricken communities.

Applications for the BHP Advisory Board are accepted once a year in the Spring. If you have feedback for our current board, please reach out to the BHP office.

Top 5 Memories from the BHP Outdoor Leadership Trek

The BHP Outdoor Leadership Trek is a one-of-a-kind immersive educational experience that teaches BHP students about leadership and decision-making in the unscripted context of the wilderness. Seven BHP students, along with one BHP staff member participated in a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) trip to Arizona in January.  Below are the top five memories from their time together as wilderness explorers!

1. Beautiful views

We hiked in the Galiuro Wildnerness of Arizona and summited near Kennedy Peak at an elevation of 7,540 feet. During our daily hikes, we encountered a variety of terrain that included dry and brushy vegetation, large rocks, exposed red soil, narrow passes, and wet forests. Naturally, some of our favorite memories were enduring a daunting uphill and turning around to see the setting sun setting over a canyon, traversing along the side of a steep mountain ridge, and sitting quietly under the stars in an open field on our very first night. We can describe it here and present pictures that may be worth a thousand words, but nothing compares to actually experiencing the significance of nature.

2. Cooking in the backcountry

Everyone raves about the food NOLS provides, which is more than just dehydrated soups and meal kits. Our rations contained raw ingredients such as flour, sugar, quinoa, couscous, dried fruits, hashbrowns, nut butter, and cheddar cheese; one pot, one pan, one cooking lid, and a spatula; and a spice kit. The spice kit is key to unlocking the magic of cooking in the backcountry because it allowed us to improvise and get creative. While we never learned how to bake cinnamon rolls or pizza on our trip, we did make a legendary quinoa soup, a tasty hashbrown breakfast with refried beans, tuna surprise, numerous quesadillas, and “tasted better than they looked” brownie and pancake scrambles.

3. Learning wilderness survival skills

Throughout our course, we learned practical outdoor skills like dressing in layers to stay warm and dry, cooking with creativity (see above), selecting appropriate campsites, pitching storm-proofed tent shelters, reading topographic maps and terrain features, and bear hanging (suspending our food bags from trees to prevent bears from getting to it). While we found some humor in doing the actions, the reality was that we needed to practice all these skills to survive for 8 days in the great outdoors. It’s easy to take certain luxuries like dorm rooms, running water, and cafeterias for granted. We truly felt empowered and ready for anything once we learned basic skills to take care of ourselves and be self-sufficient with very few resources.

4. It snowed!

Every NOLS expedition is different – we can’t predict the routes we will take, how our group will work together, or what the weather will be like. Previous NOLS participants told us about the challenges they faced, but no one could prepare us for the unique challenge of waking up to three inches of snow. We had to re-pitch tents that blew away in the middle of the night, find our buried kitchen equipment, hike and trail-find as it continued to rain and snow, and melt snow as a water source. Our snow day tested our physical and mental resolve, but it was also beautiful and fun to play in. We also learned an important lesson: Snow is the BEST toilet paper.

5. Bonding with BHPals

Here’s the funny thing about spending 8 days dealing with uncertainty with 6 other students and very little alone time: You get VERY close. We developed our own language to describe things, starting with “backcountry,” or what we had previously called the wilderness. This language evolved into euphemisms and inside jokes like “take a walk” (going to the bathroom), “spikes on the left” (watch for sharp objects), “SCAT!” (bear droppings ahead), “pothole water” (questionable drinking water), “beat the beep” (pack faster), and random squeals and squeaks (either Judy or Will tripped). It’s not easy nor fun to describe inside jokes to people on the outside, so we’ll close by encouraging you to go on a NOLS trip as soon as possible. We promise you’ll learn about leadership, engage in self-reflection, practice survival skills, and laugh until your stomach hurts.