Graduate students win business award

A team of students from the Marquette Graduate School of Management won the Association for Corporate Growth Cup for the second year in a row, defeating University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee teams.

This year’s Marquette team won $5,000 and was comprised of four executive M.B.A. students who earned degrees this past December: David Blong, Darren Dewing, Brad Hutjens and Tara Stewart. The runner-up teams each received $1,500 prizes.

The ACG Cup is an annual nationwide case study competition open to M.B.A. and M.S. accounting students. Competitors gain real-world experience in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity.

Each team is given a business case to analyze and determines the solutions and recommendations for investing in a specific company. The teams give presentations to a panel of professionals within the ACG community and are judged accordingly.

Ryan Chimenti, vice president of Cleary Gull, Inc. investment banking firm and co-chair of the ACG Wisconsin chapter, was a key member in the foundation of the program and said this year’s competition was the best yet.

Chimenti said the ACG Cup teaches students how to sell a company and position themselves to get hired.

“We want to educate students on the work of investment banking, mergers and acquisitions and finance,” he said. “We want to bring the best and the brightest from Wisconsin universities.”

This year, five teams from Marquette sought to fit that profile. The teams competed in a similar intra-school competition in January to determine who would advance to the finals.

Dewing said this competition was every bit as competitive as the finals.

“It really speaks to the quality of education at Marquette,” he said.

Dewing now works as corporate real estate manager for Associated Bank and feels grateful for the unique opportunity to apply the skills he learned in the past 17 months and transition into the working world.

The members of this year’s winning team engage the business world in a variety of ways, including Blong, who is a clinic director for Marquette University School of Dentistry.

The team’s diversity worked in their favor, said Jeanne Simmons, associate dean for the Graduate School of Management.

“You have to have the numbers right,” she said. “But what matters is telling the story that goes beyond the numbers.”

Blong, who has practiced dentistry for six years, also emphasized the importance of telling the story of a business’s worth.

“Having the experience in how a firm is evaluated is integral,” he said.

As Blong and Dewing leave classes behind to make the transition back to work, they look back on the ACG Cup as an indescribably powerful tool for whatever businesses ventures they may encounter in the future.

Chimenti believes the program is the very best experience for an M.B.A. graduate student. He encourages prospective business undergraduates: “The competition is as real-life as it gets. It’s the most rewarding and involves the most work.”