Southeastern business students win case study competition

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Students compete in ACG competition
by: Rene Abadie

SOUTHEASTERN FINANCE TEAM TOPS IN COMPETITION – A team of Southeastern Louisiana University business and finance students took the top prize in a Louisiana competition sponsored by the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG).  Pictured are, from left, team members Austin Polk, Hannah Reeves and Nick Byrd and faculty advisor Danielle Lewis.

     HAMMOND – A team of three Southeastern Louisiana University business and finance students have captured first place in a regional competition designed to provide real world experience in mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, and finances.
    The Southeastern team, comprised of Nicholas Byrd and Austin Polk, both senior finance majors from Denham Springs, and Hannah Reeves, a senior business administration major from Franklinton, competed in the third annual Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Energy Case Competition held recently at LSU. Danielle Lewis, Joyce Junguns Professor of Finance, served as faculty advisor to the team.
     “We pulled numerous all-nighters, and it was so rewarding to see our hard work pay off,” said Reeves, who prepared several spreadsheets correlating the price of oil per barrel to each company’s income statements, a task that impressed the judges. “The competition pulled me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to learn a lot of material very quickly, which was a great confidence boost. I feel much more confident about going into the ‘real world’ now.”
     “Our team demonstrated the skills, knowledge and experience they have gained through their courses and close interaction with their instructors,” said College of Business Interim Dean Antoinette Phillips. “We are extremely proud of their representation of Southeastern, especially since the judges indicated their product was more in line with the graduate level competition.”
     Lewis said teams were given two weeks to prepare an oral presentation supported by PowerPoint and a handout that analyzed a hypothetical business scenario for an energy-related company. The case study was primarily finance related but also incorporated accounting, management and marketing elements. Students worked from documents provided that included a memo from a chief executive officer outlining the situation, a series of financial statements, and some supplemental information.
     “The competition simulates real world scenarios,” Lewis explained, “and ACG strives to make the competition as realistic and valuable as possible for the students.”
     She said the students worked outside of class on the case study, using the background provided by ACG and the College of Business Bloomberg terminals, which provide students with access to up-to-date stock and financial information.
     Byrd, who had participated in the competition last year, served as the unofficial leader of the group, even while carrying 18 credit hours, renovating his home due to flood damage, and starting an internship at First Guaranty Bank.
     “I feel that I gained experience on what it would be like as a junior level investment banker,” said Byrd. “The ACG Cup is supposed to simulate the stressful environment of investment banking, and I learned that I liked the pressure and excitement that comes with it. The competition made me realize I enjoy the investment banking culture, specifically mergers and acquisitions. I consider that a real potential career path.”
     He added that the classes he has taken at Southeastern and faculty members such as Rakesh Duggal, who taught his mergers and acquisitions course, helped prepare him for the challenge.      “We’ve learned how to think critically and creatively and how to use the tools we’ve learned in finance classes to answer open-ended questions,” he explained.
     Polk said one advantage his team had was the group had worked together on different projects and knew how each other worked. “Like any group that works together, we had our differences, but we got the job done to the best of our ability.”
     “The ACG Cup experience was extremely challenging but rewarding when it was all said and done,” said Polk. “It gave me insight regarding mergers and acquisitions that I could not gain in the classroom. But Southeastern has prepared me to think critically, which is one thing required for this competition.”
     “I’m very proud of our students’ performance,” said Lewis. “They recognize that their skill sets, coupled with hard work and commitment, pay big dividends. Our finance program’s successes in competitions are consistently demonstrating there is a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ at Southeastern, and our students are capable of successfully competing against others at a wide range of universities, both locally and nationally. These successes are proving very valuable in connecting students with work opportunities.”
     The ACG Cup is the second first place award Southeastern business students have won in recent months. Earlier in the year, a four-student team won a national competition sponsored by the Washington, DC-based Conference of State Bank Supervisors, a nationwide organization of banking regulators. In addition, Southeastern finance students placed second in the 2014 ACG Cup competition.
     ACG Louisiana is a non-profit organization that facilitates the networking of business professionals in Louisiana and the surrounding areas.

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