Students offered strategic financial analysis on Procter & Gamble and Unilever, networked with judges from major corporations

Last Thursday, the Owen Finance Club (OFC) hosted their second case competition of the year, the Corporate Finance Case Competition. The competition puts first-year MBAs in the role of a Chief Financial Officer of a large corporation and asks them to think strategically about improving business models.

With applications being released for summer internships in corporate finance, the competition is a natural opportunity to begin networking with alums and preparing for interviews.

“The case competition allows students to showcase their skills in front of senior representatives from several Fortune 500 companies and some of the largest recruiters at Owen,” said Evan Hutto, Vice President of Events for the OFC. “Employers are able to build relationships with students early in the recruiting cycle and evaluate students outside of the normal resume reviews and interview processes.”

The case competition allows students to showcase their skills in front of several Fortune 500 companies. -Evan Hutto

The Case: Unlike the Investment Banking Case Competition held last month, this year’s Corporate Finance Case Competition gave participants the option to choose their company: Procter & Gamble or Unilever. Teams had to outline how their chosen company was different from their competitor and pull historical financial data to back up their claims.

Working in teams of four or five, students were tasked with determining how differences in product portfolio, market geography, manufacturing, and more contribute to financial performance. Their analysis included working capital management and liquidity ratios, as well as recommendations for how either Procter & Gamble or Unilever could continue to stand out and grow strategically.

“For students, this case competition offers the opportunity to put the skills they learned over the first two mods at Owen into practice,” Hutto said. “By working on a real-world corporate finance project, students develop a better understanding of the actual responsibilities of a corporate finance practitioner.”

Judges deliberate the winner at the Corporate Finance Case Competition

The Judges: Seven judges from major corporations — including Eastman Chemical, ExxonMobil, Cardinal Health, Cigna, and Mars Petcare — evaluated participants’ presentations based on the strength of the financial analysis and strategic recommendations. In addition to providing feedback on the different approaches to the case, the judges networked with students at both lunch and a happy hour.

“I’ve heard from a couple of the companies, (saying) ‘We didn’t know who this candidate was (before)…but we identified them at the case competition, and that was the start of us wanting to get know that candidate more,’” said Brook Meissner, Senior Associate Director at the Career Management Center.

The Winner: Team five (Eric Brooks, Marc Santolin, Zach Schneider, and Scott Beerens) took first place, based on their strong presentation and in-depth financial analysis and forecasting.

Winners aside, the real value of the competition is the opportunity to present to corporate finance practitioners and receive immediate feedback. “(The competition) gives the students a chance to start thinking about what kinds of things they may need to work on in preparation for interviews,” Meissner said. “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that some of the students participating in this (event) are often some of the more competitive students when it comes to the recruiting side.”

To learn more about the Vanderbilt MBA and corporate finance opportunities, visit our program page.