Every year, the Hospitality Asset Managers Association sponsors an undergraduate student case competition for prestigious universities across the country. This year, two Broad hospitality business students had the opportunity to participate and showcase exactly how and why Spartans Will make business happen.

Headshot of Nick Cartus outside

Nick Cartus, hospitality business senior

Nick Cartus and Rishikesh Prabhu, hospitality business seniors, participated in the 2019–2020 HAMA Student Competition against students from schools such as Georgia State, Penn State, Cornell University, Boston University and the University of Denver. Among the skilled competition, Cartus and Prabhu impressively won second place.

“Managing to place second in a competition of this scale, especially against other strong schools, is not only an accomplishment for myself and Rishikesh but also a testament to the strength of the programs within the Broad College,” Cartus said.

The competition, held in October, calls for research papers and concludes the following April, with final judging by HAMA board members.

Cartus and Prabhu’s paper regarding the effects of the Marriott/Starwood (“Marwood”) merger on hotel asset values was well received and finished only one point behind the winning team. Cartus and Prabhu engaged with industry practitioners and MSU alumni for guidance and insight regarding their chosen topic.

“Our research took four months to complete, and throughout this, we got to interview many leaders in the asset management industry,” Prabhu said of their research process. “Talking to these leaders gave us key insights, and we learned critical real-life aspects of the industry that simply cannot be learned in a class. It has made me astute and well-informed, which is fruitful for anyone going into the field of asset management.”

Cartus added, “By participating in this competition, I learned how helpful and supportive the MSU alumni are and that they go above and beyond when it comes to propelling the next generation of Spartans forward.”

Headshot of student Rishikesh Prabhu

Rishikesh Prabhu, hospitality business senior

The students also expressed gratitude to professors in the School of Hospitality Business for their expertise, availability and resourcefulness. With their assistance, Cartus and Prabhu were able to apply the knowledge they gained in the classroom to a real-world scenario.

“The professors and staff go out of their way to help students like Rishikesh and I perform at our highest level,” Cartus said. “Professors such as Jim Anhut teach on a case study basis, which takes the class from a theoretical perspective to a point where everything we learn can be applied to the real world.”

Jim Anhut, director of the Real Estate Investment Management minor at the School of Hospitality Business, served as the MSU faculty sponsor during the competition. Anhut coached and guided various Broad teams who competed for the chance to present their respective research papers to the HAMA board. Cartus and Prabhu were ultimately chosen to proceed to the final competition.

“Our participation in this prestigious competition reinforces our recognition as the top-ranked public hospitality business program,” Anhut said. “More importantly, the competition showcases our students who have an interest in real estate and asset management to potential employers and employment influencers.”

This competition highlights the abundant faculty, alumni and other resources available to help students in the School of Hospitality Business contribute to innovative change in their industry. Anhut said the interface between students and alumni is “magical and inspiring.”

In reflecting on the competition, Cartus and Prabhu both mentioned the value of their teamwork and what they gained from their opportunity to collaborate with each other.

“Producing a detailed research paper required Rishikesh and I to work closely together, so I feel that I not only gained a close friend but also learned how to work and communicate effectively with someone else on a project of this magnitude,” Cartus said.

Prabhu added, “I encourage anyone who wants to go into asset management or mergers and acquisitions to consider taking part in this competition, as the research itself increases your knowledge of the industry by leaps and bounds.”