ACG Cup Competition delivers real-life experience to graduate students.

“Professors and peers can be more forgiving—but not judges at a case competition,” Julie Kwock said. “It’s tough. It’s stressful. But it’s enormously beneficial to participate in such a real-world experience.”

Kwock and fellow graduate students Michelle Carter and Jose Mena represented the College of Business Administration of Florida International University (FIU) in the 2011 ACG Cup Competition conducted by the South Florida chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. It was FIU’s third time in the competition, held in Ft. Lauderdale in March 2011 and won by the University of Miami.

Julie Kwock, Jose Mena and Michelle Carter

“The case involved helping an investment firm decide whether to acquire a fictitious private company,” said Kwock, working on an MBA and a Master of Science in Finance (MSF). “Our team gave a ‘yes’ recommendation, and made our presentation to the panel of judges.”

Chun-Hao Chang, chair of the Department of Finance and Real Estate, and Anneli Hilpinen (MBA ’10, BBA ’06), manager, Ernst & Young Student Learning Lab, organized FIU’s ACG Cup participation.

“Working on specialized finance-related cases enables students to learn more about a specific area of the business world,” Hilpinen said. “Presenting to six judges who interrupt, ask questions and engage the students allows the competitors to develop their business skills.”

The road to Ft. Lauderdale started in February on FIU’s campus during an intramural ACG Cup Competition. Two teams vied for the chance to represent the school. In addition to Chang, finance faculty member Edward Lawrence and Kevin Gordon, president of Catalyst Financial, LLC, served as judges for this round.

Life-altering event? Could be.

“To be able to network and learn from investment banking and private equity professionals was the most rewarding aspect of participating,” said Mena, an MBA student.

For Carter, working on an MSF, her involvement may prove to be a life-changing experience.

“The competition exposed me to a side of the finance industry I have never seen,” she said. “In fact, I’m now considering investment banking as a career path.”

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