A team of Auburn University finance and engineering students has won the 2023 Global Case Competition at Harvard, one of the most prestigious student-organized case competitions in the world, beating out more than 175 other collegiate teams.
Competing teams were presented with the hypothetical case of multinational technology company Siemens purchasing wind turbine company Vestas. After an initial round of judging, the top 10 teams had three weeks to prepare a 75-page deck discussing the feasibility of the transaction, as well as outlining a possible alternative acquisition.
Additionally, each group was tasked with analyzing industry research to perform valuations that detailed the financial implications of alternative deals.
“Our students went above and beyond in their analysis,” said Tracy Richard, director of Auburn’s Harbert College of Business Integrated Financial Leadership Program, or IFLP, and faculty advisor to the Financial Management Association, or FMA. “They rejected the proposed acquisition, and then did extensive research to propose an alternative acquisition that would not only be accretive, but would align with Siemens’ forward-looking strategy.”
In announcing the competition winner, Asya Potemkina, a competition judge with HSBC Private Bank, stated the Auburn team was a unanimous choice among the judges.
“We had no doubt that (Auburn) was the winner,” she said in the online video announcement. “You have done a great presentation, an absolutely great video … and you killed the Q&A. You completely helped each other in answering the questions, and your answers were right.”
The Auburn team members are finance students Jameson Fecteau, Jack Perkins and Lauren Rutherford, as well as engineering/computer science student Wesley Lowman.
According to Richard, in addition to the time the team spent drilling down on the financials, it also invested in mastering small details of the case and presentation — from filming a professional quality presentation to practicing ad nauseam for the Q&A.
“Our students proved that practice (and hard work) makes perfect,” Richard said.
“We are incredibly proud of how well these students represent the Finance Department and the Harbert College of Business,” said Keven Yost, Synovus Fellow and chair of the Department of Finance. “Their hard work and professionalism, combined with what they learned in the classroom and FMA trainings, set them up for success. I know they will continue to achieve academic and professional success.”
Team member Fecteau, a senior, attributed the team’s victory to each person’s dedication, preparation and unique skills.
“Going into the case, everyone had a clear vision of what our deck needed to look like and the story it needed to tell,” he said. “We had met weeks prior to the competition to discuss our plan, so when the case was released, we were able to hit the ground running … and we made sure to play to everyone’s strengths.”
According to Richard, the team worked tirelessly on the case during the past two months, even spending spring break week finishing its pitch.
“It’s great to see their dedication pay off,” said Richard.
That level of dedication is a hallmark of FMA, which provides its members with opportunities to participate in an alumni mentorship program, practical application classes in financial modeling, security analysis, portfolio management and advanced investments, as well as the national and international case competitions.
For the past two years, FMA students have won first prize in the Kroll One Team Challenge, a prestigious international contest that attracts hundreds of top-tier colleges of business in the world who square off to conduct an analysis of a hypothetical company, establish a valuation and then develop a business strategy.
Regularly competing on a world stage against the best of the best helped the Auburn team win the Harvard-run case competition.
“Having built multiple pitches in the past was extremely beneficial, as we were able to tell a convincing story through our analysis,” said Fecteau. “On the technical side, emphasis on financial modeling within the organization was one of the largest helps. Because of this, we were able to discuss our assumptions on a high level while working through a merger model without hesitation.”
The Auburn team will receive its $10,000 first-place prize at the competition’s gala on April 29 at Harvard University.