I recently participated in the 2015 Finance Challenge, where I joined a team with three of my classmates in analyzing a business valuation case study and presented our solutions to a panel of judges.
Here are my top five favorite moments of the Finance Challenge:
- Forming our dream team
The first step in any case challenge is assembling a team of four classmates who are interested in participating. The best teams are diverse – not just in cultural background, but also in skill set, work experience, and future goals. This is valuable because your team can generate unique ideas, you can learn from others’ experiences, and your presentation will be dynamic. McCombs has a wealth of diversity, so it wasn’t hard to create a solid team. I teamed up with a former investment banker, a former lawyer and banker, and a small business owner – and two of my teammates were even married!
- Preparing to tackle the case… with Home Slice Pizza
One of the key elements in preparing for a case competition is social time. After we received our case materials, we visited an Austin staple – Home Slice Pizza – where we talked about the case’s important issues and our ideas to solve them over two large pizzas and a bottle of Chianti. This dinner set the tone for our whole approach to solving the case challenge – relaxed, yet confident and efficient.
- Cracking the quants
The inner nerd in me (okay, I’m kind of an “outer” nerd, too) was extremely excited to build the financial valuation model for this case. So naturally, it was one my favorite moments. Our whole team was eager to flesh out every detail necessary to make the perfect model. We utilized topics and frameworks that we learned in our core corporate finance class as well as the “flex-core” valuation class. I suppose my background in financial consulting and my teammates’ banking experiences may have helped, too…
- Delivering the presentation
Case competitions are a great way for students to practice their presentation skills. As a former consultant, I did quite a bit of presenting, and I really enjoy public speaking. It was exciting to discuss our analysis with the judges and hear their feedback. For those who are looking to improve their communication skills, McCombs provides an invaluable resource: MBA+ Coaches. The MBA+ communication coaches are all current candidates or graduates of the UT Communication Studies PhD program, and they are available to all full-time MBA students to help with speech anxiety, interviewing, networking, writing, and more.
- Networking and celebrating
After the challenge was over, we chatted with the judges and other recruiters who attended the event. We reflected on what we learned from the challenge: how to remain cool under pressure, how to sift through loads of information and data to determine the key issues, and how to work closely with your peers to come up with the most innovative solutions. Then we went to happy hour at Uchi (another Austin favorite) to celebrate our success with our significant others. There’s nothing like a few sushi rolls and a glass of sake to cap off a week of late nights, early mornings, and a successful competition.
-Tim Carreon, Class of 2017