Carnegie Mellon University

Alpha Club winning team

March 10, 2021

Tepper School’s Alpha Club Wins 1st Place at Cornell’s Prestigious Investment Portfolio Case Competition

The Tepper School sent a team of four first-year MBA students to present their investment case analysis and portfolio recommendations to judges and recruiters from sponsoring firms at Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business for the annual, intercollegiate Investment Portfolio Case Competition on Feb. 12, 2021. The team, made up of Alpha Club incoming board members, Bryan Dulog, Cameron Wright, Jay Sehgal, and Peter Chen, won first place in the competition.

The competition is designed to promote analysis and investment strategy development in private wealth, retirement and endowment/foundation asset management, and portfolio construction and risk management. Students had 10 days to research the case, make a 10-minute presentation and respond to 10 minutes of questions, and were required to provide a two-page summary to judges.

This was a highly competitive interschool competition with some of the top investment and MBA schools in the country participating, including Columbia University, Cornell University, University of Virginia, New York University, University of North Carolina (second place), Yale School of Management (third place), and four others. It is offered to create awareness of portfolio management careers and facilitate students’ networking and recruiting opportunities in the field with sponsoring firms.

A Team With Diverse Backgrounds

Cameron Wright, one of the members of the winning team, attributed their success to the Tepper School’s data-driven focus in classes such as finance, optimization, and accounting. Wright stated, “the Alpha Club and GFA, along with valuable resources like Wall Street Prep, helped us shape each of our unique skills, enabling us to succeed in this event. The Alpha Club’s open collaboration between part-time and full-time students allowed us to create a well-rounded team with diverse backgrounds.” Clearly, this was a recipe for success for the team.

To prepare for the competition, the Alpha Club members independently researched the topics at hand including portfolio management, ESG investing, and asset management. They also prepared by reading the case prompt and identifying the top issues they wanted to address.

The team held meetings frequently to discuss priorities and assign tasks to be completed in-between meetings. They consulted with Tepper alumnus, Abhishek Namballa (MSCF 2021) and second-year MBA student, Michael Withrock, on pitch competition best practices and for feedback on their presentation. They held several presentation dry-runs as a team where they went through the prepared 10 minutes of presentation, and then asked one another questions to simulate the types of questions the judges might ask.

The team understood their strengths and weaknesses going into the day of the competition and played to their strengths as best they could. Wright went on to say, “I can't understate the value of trust during these competitions either — because everyone on the team understood all aspects of the case and the designed solution, we were able to confidently answer the judges' questions and build on each other's answers.”

An Opportunity to Further Develop Critical Skills for Success

With all the preparation required for success, the students had to work to balance their coursework with their prep work. Wright attributes a lot of the credit for finding the appropriate balance to team member, Jay Sehgal, who kept them organized. They had efficient meetings to discuss and work together on areas that needed collaboration. For topics that could be done individually, they assigned each team member tasks to be completed prior to the next meeting. The competition required a lot of effort but spreading out the work across the team and over time eased the burden.

In the end, the students’ preparation led to clear success. When asked if this competition would impact their future careers, Wright said, “Regardless of whether the four of us go into asset management or not, participating in a competition that requires one to think critically, do independent research, collaborate as a team, compete with intelligent individuals, present in front of others, and think ‘on your feet’ are all skills that are important.

“For me personally, someone who comes from an investment background and plans to continue in that industry, digging deep into sustainable investing, building and optimizing a portfolio, and evaluating the market landscape for various asset managers are important topics and skills that I will use in the future.”

Congratulations to the Alpha Club on this important first-place win!