Nicolas Lopez and Miguel Pando, Florida International University (FIU) College of Business students and officers in the Phoenician Investment Fund, were looking for a way to put their investment banking and trading skills to the test in a case competition.
They searched the Internet and found an opportunity: the National Investment Banking Competition and Conference in January, hosted by the Sauder School of Business of the University of British Columbia.
Attracted by a low entrance fee and the prospect of an adventure, the pair made a self-financed journey to Vancouver, British Columbia—and walked away with two third-place competition finishes.
“Every penny we spent was worth it,” Lopez said. “It was a trip of a lifetime. And, for the first time, I saw snow.”
Experience is tale of trains, planes and lessons learned.
With cost-savings in mind, the pair took a roundabout route through Seattle to save money, and were almost stopped by a mudslide on the Amtrak rails (they rerouted via bus).
“At the conference, people applauded us when they heard how much time it took us to get there,” Lopez said.
The competition challenge was strenuous. In investment banking, teams were given an hour to structure a full presentation on valuation and strategic acquisition of a pipeline company, to be judged by a panel of investment bankers.
The two relied heavily on their academic backgrounds and knowledge gained through the Phoenicians, in which they focus on teaching investment banking and trading skills to others. That knowledge paid off in the third place finishes in investment banking and sales and trading, and the sense that they had put FIU, the only Florida school among 42 represented, on the map.
The conference also gave Pando, a junior who interns with Banco Santander, and Lopez, a senior and State Farm Financial Literacy Lab (SFFLL) intern, an opportunity to see how important faculty mentoring and extracurricular activities are to eventual career success.
“To truly learn, you have to go beyond the syllabus, which is why FIU’s ability to foster student organizations such as ours helps us excel in a competitive environment,” Lopez said. “The College of Business realizes this. As it emphasizes faculty support and extracurricular activities, it is creating an environment for success.”