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        Auburn FMA team wins prestigious Duff & Phelps national case competition

        March 31, 2020 By Joe McAdory

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        Harbert students win prestigious case competition

        The Harbert College of Business is dedicated to providing a superior student experience that produces highly sought-after graduates. Part of this is providing students with relevant, forward-looking and engaging high-impact experiential learning opportunities.

        “Working in teams, students apply technical reasoning and critical thinking through key stages of the fictitious deal-making process. Together, we put these skills to work as we solved a complex transaction related to a key stage in business deal-making." -- Jenny Herrell”

        Three finance students representing Harbert College’s Financial Management Association (FMA) took first place nationally at the prestigious Duff & Phelps YOUniversity Deal Challenge in Chicago on February 27.

        Senior Jenny Herrell, Vice President of the FMA and this years’ graduation marshal, led the team that included sophomore FMA members Jonathan Hu and Kennedy Jarvis, which beat finalists Wisconsin and University of Texas and advanced to the international competition, which is currently slated for May in London. 

        duff present Taking first place in the Americas, garnered a $15,000 payout for the Auburn FMA team.

        The annual YOUniversity Deal Challenge engages teams of business students across the world to showcase their finance skills through a simulated case study. This year, more than 500 teams internationally entered, of which 150 teams were able to complete all analysis and requirements for final submission. The top three teams from each region - the Americas, Asia, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and India were selected to present their solutions to industry experts and nationally recognized professors.

        Tracy Richard, director of Harbert College's Integrated Financial Leadership Program, credited the students. “It’s an impressive accomplishment and one that these students should be proud of," she said. "This wasn’t an easy case – the amount of time that they poured into this competition far exceeded that of a three-hour credit class. The key success ingredients here were competitive drive and commitment.”

        fmaHerrell said that Auburn's FMA enters the Duff and Phelps case competition each year and prepares students for the rigor of such cases through specialized coursework, new member training, Wall Street Prep training, and intensive mentorship and peer advising.

        "Case studies like the YOUniversity Deal Challenge enable students to practically apply the concepts introduced in course work," she said. "More importantly, it fosters student mentorship and the development of technical skills in younger members. As a sophomore, I participated in the challenge, and it furthered my interest in the field and bettered my understanding of financial analysis. I was excited to return to the competition this year and advance to internationals for the first time in Auburn FMA history.”

        The Duff & Phelps competition engages teams of business students to hone a broad range of skills, including mergers and acquisitions advisory, transaction opinions, disputes, and investigations and valuation advisory. Teams were presented with all of the necessary corporate-level information in October and given two months to prepare recommendations.

        duff3“Working in teams, students apply technical reasoning and critical thinking through key stages of the fictitious deal-making process. Together, we put these skills to work as we solved a complex transaction related to a key stage in business deal-making,” shared Herrell.

        What attributed to Auburn’s success? Hu credited “team dynamics.”

        “Going into Chicago and pitching our recommendation to a panel of judges who each had decades of experience in the industry was definitely a tall task for a few undergraduate students,” he said. “However, each one of us made sacrifices and put forth our best effort in the months leading up to the competition. Our team dynamic, along with proper training and advice from older and past FMA members, ensured that we went into that room confident and prepared for anything that could be thrown at us.

        “Also, I don’t think any of us would be where we are without FMA’s resources, including other members and alumni. The program has equipped us and put us in the best position to succeed,” Hu contends.

        “Auburn FMA has created a community of students that are passionate about pushing the limits of what the Auburn finance program can achieve. "I believe that our pattern of success in these competitions stems from the training program infrastructure that FMA has developed and the group's mentor/mentee culture." -- Jimmy Brewster, FMA President”

        The Harbert College FMA is no stranger to success in the Duff & Phelps competition. The student honor society took second place out of 77 international teams in 2018. FMA President Jimmy Brewster, who served as an advisor to this year’s team, was part of the 2018 that won $6,000 in scholarships.

        "Auburn FMA has created a community of students that are passionate about pushing the limits of what the Auburn finance program can achieve," said Brewster, a senior. "I believe that our pattern of success in these competitions stems from the training program infrastructure that FMA has developed and the group's mentor/mentee culture."

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