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McCombs Earns Top Honors at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 12th Annual Alpha Challenge

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For MBA students looking to head into investment management, pitching stocks is one of the top skills they’ll be looking to strengthen while in business school. The 12th Annual Alpha Challenge, hosted last month at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, gives participating students hands-on opportunity to do precisely that.

MBA students at the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business took home first place at this year’s event—which took place November 17th and 18th—but students from more than a dozen participating schools honed their skills, made valuable connections and, in many cases, even interviewed with potential recruiting firms.

Chip Snively, UNC Kenan-Flagler finance professor and co-director of the Alpha Challenge, spoke about the event, which featured students from 15 different business schools across the United States. “Alpha Challenge is a rare opportunity for top MBA students to demonstrate their investment management skills to accomplished professional investors who serve as judges,” he said in a press release. “It’s a learning opportunity for students from across the U.S. and a recruiting opportunity for the firms.”

The team from Yale School of Management earned 2nd place in the event, followed by the team representing Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management to round out the top three.

Students were interviewed on the first day of the Alpha Challenge by 20 different firms, and the next day featured a wide networking event for all participants. That same day, each team representing the 15 participating schools was tasked with presenting three different stock presentation ideas: one short, one long and one designated “wildcard,” open to any U.S.-traded stock. The teams presented in front of a panel of 43 total judges, representing 32 different firms.

“The active management firms that will thrive in an industry that is moving increasingly toward passive management are those that drive superior risk-adjusted returns for their clients,” said Jim Jones, Kenan-Flagler alum (MBA ‘06) and co-founder of the event, in a statement. “It all starts with hiring the best investment talent. Over the past decade many of the country’s top-tier investment firms have attended Alpha Challenge to identify the next generation of investment leaders.”

The winning McCombs’ team—made up of students Yamel Cotero, Jonathan Evans and Ian Ricks—picked Casey’s General Stores Inc. for its long stock; Roomba robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot Corp. for its short stock, and children’s clothing company Carter’s Inc. for its “wildcard” pick.

The total list of participating business schools is as follows:

  • University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business
  • Yale School of Management
  • Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management
  • Columbia Business School
  • Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School
  • Duke’s Fuqua School of Business
  • Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • New York University Stern School of Business
  • UCLA Anderson School of Management
  • University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School
  • University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business

Learn more about the annual Alpha Challenge.

Matthew Korman
Matthew Korman is a contributing author and editor for Clear Admit. Since graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism and political science, Matthew has worked with numerous academic institutions, in addition to roles as a music industry writer, promoter, and data analyst. His works have appeared in publications such as NPR and Sports Illustrated.