Adam is a first-year MBA, planning to concentrate on Finance and Strategy. He says the ABI case competition was a great fit for him because it allows him to put into practice two facets of business that he is certain he will utilize in his future career: financial analysis and strategy development.
Why were you interested in participating in this particular case competition? It was a combination of finance and strategy so it was right up my alley. Although, doing this competition has made me certain I do not want to work in bankruptcy. But, the things that we had to analyze and think about are definitely things that I can see myself thinking about in my career. I was really enticed by the competition - there were 12 schools, 11 of them were ranked in the top 15 of Business Week's ranking list. Being able to compete and show that Illinois can hold their own was really awesome. My competitive streak definitely took over.
Who was on the team? Me, Brian Cox and Vish Nadgir (MBA2). Was it helpful to have an MBA2 as an “experienced” resource? Yes, especially because this competition was really tailored to MBA2's, in fact, most of the other participants were second-years and had some sort of background in finance and banking. So, was that cool for you, competing against a bunch of second-year MBA’s? Yea! Going up against top students from top programs? What a rush! Competing against these guys was definitely really fun and a great confidence boost.
Tell me about the case and your approach to analyzing the details? The materials were given to us a week prior to our presentation. The case itself was a lumber company on the verge of bankruptcy; they are over levered and have too much debt and they don’t have enough cash coming in to pay their operating expenses. We had to address how to arrive at an appropriate level of debt and address short term liquidity needs.
One of the major component was a fully integrated and dynamic excel model - Vish played a large part in helping us pull this together. It required a lot of what we learned in our accounting and finance classes and applying it to a real world situation, then seeing how the various changes we make to the statements affect the financial well-being of the company. There was the strategic aspect where we ask what we should do and then the financial aspect which is analyzed with the excel model. We came up with a list of possible strategies to pursue and then ran through each. We then discussed how each would affect the company and relevant stakeholders in the company. Then we divided the strategies into those that would work and those that wouldn't.
Our final deliverables were a 20-page paper and two 45-minute presentations.
On presentation day - tell me about how you were feeling. Tired! It was really a very intense week in terms of work load and analysis. We were at the BIF until the wee hours of the morning for the whole week and didn't actually get any sleep the night before we left. It’s a situation where you receive a lot of information and initially feel very overwhelmed but as you work through the details and break it down, you get a clearer picture of what the goal is and how to get there. This was a very complex case, and even as tired as we were, we were able to work together and make sense of it. We were happy with our presentation, but of course hindsight is 20-20. If we had more time, we could have done better, but overall we pulled together well, we worked together great and the presentation itself was really fun. The panel of judges was seasoned professionals and they know the material very well. So, when they would ask us questions, they knew what they were talking about. Luckily, we were well prepared and gave great answers.
Based on this experience, would you want to compete in more case competitions? I'd love to do another one, but I don't think I'll do another this year. But, maybe in my secnod year. It gets your competitive juices flowing and what I've learned will definitely help me in future competitions. It was awesome to take what we are learning in the classroom and apply to a real world situation for a really valuable experience.
So, was it all work and no play? No! There was actually a networking reception the night we arrived. We got to have some great conversations with the guys from Dartmouth and Colombia. The night after the completion we met up with the team from Darden and Berkley for dinner and drinks. The night of the opening reception we all had a lot of work to do at that point. But, it was good to have a break and hear about other people running into the same stresses as us. To be honest, it was hard to focus on fun, while the break was nice, our night out was pretty short.
Now that you are done with the competition and preparation, what are you going to do with your free time? I'm married - so a lot of free time is family focused. I like to hang out with my wife and her family. Actually, getting married has completely changed the way I spend my free time...in a good way!
Thanks so much to Adam for taking time to share his experience with us! Keep checking back for more recaps of our case competitiors!