This year, Portland State University’s School of Business won the 2021 Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup Northwest, an annual competition that gives graduate and undergraduate business students an opportunity to practice solving real-world finance problems in a high-pressure setting. Students are challenged to find solutions for a finance-related case in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity. After the teams analyze the case and agree upon a course of action, the students present their recommendations to a panel of expert judges working in finance.
The 2021 ACG Cup featured teams from eight universities including Portland State University, University of Oregon and University of Washington. Team Let Knowledge Serve the City (LKSC) including MSF students Chelsea Wiater, Shawna Attaway-Jefferson, Isatou Jallow and Dylan Garner advanced to the semi finals to represent PSU at the ACG Cup, and took home the trophy for first place on March, 12, 2021.
“This year we are responding to a case that involves analyzing several strategic options for GoFaster Inc., a company that offers heart rate monitors, power meters, watches, GPS units and other devices,” Wiater (MSF, ’21) explains. “We had a think-outside-the-case approach to round one, which included proposing to the Board of Directors an additional strategic option that wasn’t mentioned within the case. This meant a bit more leg work on the analytical side, but in the feedback we received from the judges, it was a differentiator for our team.”
This year’s competition offers a new set of challenges with the virtual format. Judges faced a new set of factors to evaluate, which had an impact on the teams’ performances. For example, the judges of the PSU round remarked favorably on synchronized Zoom backgrounds, speakers muting and unmuting without lag, and leveraging awkward pauses for small talk to engage the judges.
“This changes all of the dynamics of traditional presenting, and we have worked hard to find ways to be engaging and informative from ‘behind the camera,’” says Wiater. “While challenging, this is a great opportunity for all of us to prepare to be leaders in our professional careers in any medium.”
In a year where networking and extra curricular activities are limited, the 2021 ACG Cup is more valuable than ever. Competitions such as the ACG Cup offer students a unique and valuable opportunity to simulate real-world business situations and engage in real-world dilemmas in a constructive environment.