Case competitions are a staple for business schools across the country as they replicate the real-world challenges, pressures and deadlines that professionals experience every day, giving students a hands-on learning experience.
“Competitions are a very effective way of teaching and educating students about the fundamentals of financial analysis, modeling and presentation,” David Hawthorne, director of the Broad College’s Financial Markets Institute, said. “Plus, the team must deliver their recommendation and answer questions from a panel of industry experts. This places each participant in a challenging, anxiety-provoking, nerve-racking environment that simulates ‘real-life’ experience in the business world.”
A group of FMI scholars gained this experience at the 2020 Michigan Corporate Financial Case Competition, held on Nov. 7. The statewide event was hosted by MSU’s Finance Association, a student-run organization, and was sponsored by BP and the Broad College’s Department of Finance.
As this was the first inter-school competition that the MSU Finance Association has hosted, the pressure and competitive spirit were both high. The event focused on valuation, corporate debt structures and financial modeling, giving students the opportunity to display their financial knowledge.
“The case competition highlighted skills that any company recruiter looks for in a candidate, such as presentation skills, ability to collaborate and technical finance knowledge,” Brandon Kung, president of the MSU Finance Association, said. “We hope that the case competition served as an alternative for recruiters to meet students in the absence of in-person career fairs and interviews.”
Sophomore Yatin Sareen and juniors Michael Schiestel and Advik Agrawal won first place, along with another team from MSU taking home fourth.
“For our team to come in first place in the inaugural Michigan Corporate Finance Case Competition is a real honor,” Hawthorne said.
Schiestel added, “Our team worked very well together to complete the case study in a short time period. We each completed the portions of the case that corresponded to our skill sets and did an excellent job of communicating our work to each other.”
Virtual teamwork is a new skill that has proven to be important for business students and professionals. Given the current remote learning environment, the teammates were separated across different regions had to overcome this barrier.
“Being in a different time zone was difficult, but after winning, it was completely worth it,” Agrawal said.
Sareen echoed Agrawal’s sentiment: “The achievement felt like a culmination of all the knowledge I had acquired through business classes at MSU, from presentation skills to financial modeling.”
For these Spartans, winning isn’t everything; what mattered more was the experience of competing. “It is about the competition and the participation of Michigan State in competitions like these, and I am proud that both of the MSU teams stood in the top four positions,” Agrawal said.
After FMI scholars’ win in the first Michigan Corporate Finance Case Competition, the bar is set high for future competitions. Schiestel, Agrawal and Sareen all embody the Spartan tenacity that will stick with them in all of their future professional endeavors.