I was lucky enough to be part of the team that represented Haas at the UNC Alpha Challenge stock pitch competition in Chapel Hill yesterday. After flying cross-country & back on Thursday & Friday, it felt amazing to get a full night of sleep last night - but the experience was well worth the super-intense week of working crazy hours on our analysis & presentation. The competition started last Friday: at 8am EST the UNC organizers emailed us a list of 55 companies from which we would choose one stock for a Buy recommendation and another stock for a Sell recommendation. That was 5am our time - and my teammate George was up that early awaiting the list! By 7am, George, our other teammate Will and I were divvying up our research duties.
When we saw that the assigned sector was alternative energy, the three of us were all pretty happy that we were enrolled in the Alternative Energy Speaker Series course at Haas (which is worth its own blog post some other time). That said, I was even *more* happy that George had experience in his prior job looking at alternative energy stocks, so he could point us to optimal research sources and guide our understanding of the various technologies in question. The week of working together so closely -- researching, brainstorming, number crunching, building models and PPT slides -- was one of those experiential learning opportunities that businesses schools pride themselves on. I feel pretty confident that each of us learned something new from the other two that will be very valuable throughout the rest of our academic and professional careers. (I know I did.)
At the competition itself, we didn't make it to the finals, but watching the final three teams' presentations was another dimension of the learning experience. It's simply fascinating to see how many different -- and excellent -- approaches that groups of clever people can take to the same challenge. Finally, we had the chance to meet so many of the other teams over lunch, at breaks and at the awards reception, exchanging ideas and business cards with them. It's heartening to realize our community extends beyond our Haas classmates to candidates at other top MBA programs. I'm sure our paths will cross again!