Columbia Business School Investment Competition Hosted by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

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MBA teams from 16 business schools battled for the top spot in the 10th annual Alpha Challenge at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

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MBA students from 16 leading business schools battled for the top spot in the premier investment management competition – the Alpha Challenge – hosted by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School Nov. 20-21, 2014.

Columbia Business School won first place with its team of first-year MBA students Damian Creber, Kevin Lin and Edward Reynolds. They pitched MRC Global for their long investment and Cardtronics for their short investment recommendations.

The University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finished second and third, respectively.

Now in its 10th year, the Alpha Challenge pits MBA teams against each other as they present one long and one short investment recommendation from a predefined universe of stocks. They defend their analysis in front of a panel of distinguished judges who are hedge fund managers, institutional portfolio managers and equity research analysts.

“This competition tests the investment management skills of some of the best MBA students in the world,” said Chip Snively, who teaches corporate finance and investment management at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “It also provides a setting for investment management leaders to interact with the students and identify top talent for their firms.”

The two-day event began with firms interviewing candidates on Thursday, followed by an evening of networking. The competition took place Friday and featured a keynote talk by Robert Lanphier, a partner and portfolio manager at William Blair.

Jim Jones, research analyst at William Blair co-founded the Alpha Challenge when he was an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler in 2004, and remains deeply involved in competition including serving as a judge.

“We started this event because the buy side of investment management doesn’t have a formal recruiting process like the sell side does,” Jones said. “Today the Alpha Challenge provides learning experiences for the students and recruiting opportunities for the companies.”

The students competed on their home campuses for the opportunity to represent their schools at the Alpha Challenge at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and once selected, submitted a one-page stock idea along with their resumes. MBA student team teams were fielded by:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
  • Columbia University, Columbia Business School
  • Cornell University, Johnson School of Management
  • Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business
  • Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
  • Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business
  • Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business
  • University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
  • University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School    
  • University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
  • Yale University, Yale School of Management

The investment professionals who served as judges for the 2014 Alpha Challenge were:

  • Karl Brewer, William Blair
  • Tom Diegenan, UBS Global
  • Stephen Yacktman, Yacktman Funds
  • Richard L. Chilton, Jr., Chilton Investment Company
  • Jason Polun, T. Rowe Price
  • Win Murray, Harris Associates L.P.
  • Richard Weiss, Wells Capital Management
  • Scott Wilkin, UBS Global
  • Pratik Patel, Artisan Partners
  • Andrew Davis, T. Rowe Price
  • Steve Kapp, Maverick
  • Mark Lane, William Blair
  • Rob Pickels, Manning & Napier
  • Jack Fraser, Seamark Capital
  • Jennifer Foster, Chilton
  • Brian Coyle, Loomis, Sayles & Company
  • Dan Crowe, William Blair
  • John Lathrop, Sirios Capital
  • Paul VeZolles, Wedge Capital
  • Richard Graziadei, TIAA-CREF
  • Tripp Rudisill, Spartan Capital
  • Kevin Walenta, Fidelity
  • Scott Marolf, American Century Investments
  • Mike Balkin, William Blair
  • Jonathan Coleman, Janus Capital
  • Mark Vincent, Wellington
  • Connor Browne, Thornburg
  • David Rowlett, T. Rowe Price
  • Ryan Burgess, T. Rowe Price
  • James Fitzpatrick, Ospraie Management
  • Zac Merriman, Capital Group
  • Bill Monroe, Putnam Investments
  • Ryan Judas, Principal Global Investors
  • Ward Sexton, William Blair
  • Kevin Nicholson, Boardage Capital Management
  • Dennis Greenway, DG Capital
  • Joe Pittman, UBS Global

William Blair was the lead sponsor of the 2014 Alpha Challenge. Other sponsors were:

  • Carlson Capital
  • T. Rowe Price
  • Chilton Investment Company
  • Fidelity Investments
  • UBS Global
  • Yacktman Asset Management
  • American Century Investments
  • Harris Associates
  • Manning & Napier
  • FactSet
  • Sirios Capital Management
  • WEDGE Capital Management
  • Principal Global Investors
  • Capital Group

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About the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School
Consistently ranked one of the world's best business schools, UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for its collaborative culture that stems from its core values: excellence, leadership, integrity, community and teamwork. Professors excel at both teaching and research, and demonstrate unparalleled dedication to students. Graduates are effective, principled leaders who have the technical and managerial skills to deliver results in the global business environment. UNC Kenan-Flagler offers a rich portfolio of programs and extraordinary, real-life learning experiences: Undergraduate Business (BSBA), full-time MBA, Executive MBA Programs (Evening, Weekend and global OneMBA®), online MBA@UNC, UNC-Tsinghua Dual-Degree EMBA, Master of Accounting, PhD, Executive Development, and UNC Business Essentials programs. It is home to the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

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