ACG Cup- An interview with the winners at USD

The first round of the ACG Cup case study competition was held on 6 February 2014. Six teams of USD MBA students competed in the round, with each team presenting its analysis in half an hour slots . The judges were Hope Mago (Senior Associate, Huntington Capital & USD MBA alumnus), Julia Ronlov (Venture Capital and Healthcare Business Consultant & USD MBA alumna), and Dr. Marko Svetina (one of our favorite professors at USD).

The ACG Cup is a case study competition designed to give students from leading MBA programs across the country real world experience and invaluable insights into mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity.

From left to right: Judges Dr. Marko Svetina, Hope Mago and Julia Ronlov

From left to right: Judges Dr. Marko Svetina, Hope Mago and Julia Ronlov

Below are excerpts from the interview with the winning team- Andy Altman, Dave Samuel, Derek Dahlin and Steve Theriault (All from the first year Full-Time MBA cohort).

The winning team from L to R: Andy Altman, Steve Theriault, Derek Dahlin and Dave Samuel (center)

The winning team from L to R: Andy Altman, Steve Theriault, Derek Dahlin and Dave Samuel (center)

Prita: How does it feel winning the first round of the ACG cup?
Dave: It gives me a sense of accomplishment, given the time we invested in it.
Steve: I feel very privileged.
Andy: Good, excellent! We put a lot of effort into it.

Prita: What was your strategy for success?
Derek: We spent all our non-class time working on the ACG cup.
Dave: It was the attention to detail and critical thinking. We left no stone unturned in our efforts.  Andy made a separate memo to break down what was given, and analyzed every word of the material. We drilled down on every subtlety. We wanted to avoid confirmation bias.
Derek: It helped that our team had a diverse range of skill sets.
Steve: Success was due to excellent preparation.
Dave: 24 hours prior to the competition we scattered, and each team member worked independently. We started noticing every part of the case that we had overlooked, this helped us get a new perspective.
Steve: It was good that our team had 2 law students and one management consultant. Being able to break down the pieces and outline problems was instrumental in constructing a ‘big picture’ narrative.

Prita: How many hours of work did you put into the preparation? (For case analysis and presentation)
Discussed and unanimously agreed:
Presentation (Including building slides)- 15 hours
Case analysis- 35 hours, each team member

Team presenting to the judges

Team presenting to the judges

Prita: Would you have done anything differently?
Steve: We would have recognized the split between the analytical function and sales/materials function. In the next round of the competition, we are going to spend a bit more time on the sales pitch earlier in the process, so we are not scrambling.
Dave: Experience makes us more efficient. We are counting on the maturity we gained from the first round for our next round. We are a little wiser.

Prita: How is the preparation going for the second round?
Steve: We’ve met with Dr. Svetina to review what we did and didn’t do well and get any feedback he has.
Dave: We have gathered more reading, and are spending time on more research on debt and how to finance through debt.

Prita: Any tips for future participants?
Dave: Team dynamics is really important.
Steve: Jump out on it early.
Andy: The team needs to think if they want to win, or just approach it as a learning experience. If you want to win, you need to put a lot of effort.
Dave: It’s all about managing expectations. As it was happening, this was all we focused on. It was about laser focus.
Derek: I brought the team together so I’m really proud of their efforts and I look forward to the next round!
Steve: Derek was a “fearless leader!”

Prita: Any last thoughts?
Steve: We feel very fortunate to have been selected from a talented pool of teams here on campus to go and represent USD.
Andy: The name of our team was The “Orange” Investment Group. It is very important to me that you mention this! (Smiles)

I hope that the next piece about the ACG cup will be an interview with the team again, this time as regional winners! We wish the team the very best in all their endeavors. Watch this space for more updates!

 Prita Karanjkar

(Prita is a first year Full-Time MBA student at the University of San Diego. Prior to joining USD, she worked in the taxation department with Ernst and Young for 2 years.)

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