Every January, members from the Association for Corporate Growth host an investment banking case competition in which MBA programs from across the country compete. This year, two teams from the University of Wisconsin competed against each other for the right to represent the UW in the Wisconsin region. The Wisconsin region is comprised of UW, Marquette University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The representatives for each of the school present their analysis and recommendations of the problems in front of members of the ACG, typically bankers and other professionals from the Milwaukee area, with the team winning the Wisconsin region taking home $5,000.
Before the final round, each school holds an intraschool tournament to determine which group of 4 will advance to the regional finals. This year, two teams from UW competed against each other on a case written by Houlihan Lokey. The problem this year required teams to step into the role of investment banker, and advise a family owned business on a major liquidity event. The business began as a semiconductor manufacturer, and over the years it evolved to become a majority IT Consulting firm. The entrepreneur who started the company wanted to increase his liquidity and maximize the value to his shareholders. It was within this mandate that the teams were to provide their analyses and recommendations.
In the first round, both Wisconsin teams presented their analyses and recommendations in front of a panel of 4 judges, including bankers and CFIB’s center director. The judges played the part of the corporation’s board of directors, weighed each recommendation, and selected a winner. In preparing analysis and recommendations, the teams needed to value the company as separate divisions and as a whole, and present a coherent story on how the recommendation would maximize the value for the stakeholders.
As a first year, and an aspiring investment banker, this experience was invaluable for me since I got to work with and learn from second year students on valuation methods and profit maximizing strategies. The benefit of competing in a case competition generally, and in the ACG specifically, is to have to solve a problem that does not have a “right answer.” Rather, it is incumbent on the teams to present their analysis and recommendations to convince the judges that its plan has the highest likelihood for success. Even though my team lost to the other UW team, the eventual champions who won $5,000, this was a phenomenal experience that I have been able to use in both classrooms and interviews.