MBA Case competition winners

TCU MBA Team Wins First Place at Oil & Gas Finance Case Competition

Gus Gildner, Ray Serzanin, Kayvon Shahbaz and Mike Donovan worked long hours on top of their classroom curriculum to impress judges and oil and gas professionals to bring home the trophy.   

October 22,  2014

By Elaine Cole

Four friends from the TCU MBA program won first place in the Oil & Gas Finance Case Competition, sponsored by the University of Houston Investment Banking Scholars Club and Wall St. Training. The competition, which covers valuation techniques and financial concepts specific to the oil and gas industry, lets MBA students prove their merit to energy investment bankers and energy industry professionals.

After three rounds of elimination beginning in August, six teams were chosen to compete head-to-head in front of judges at Houston: two teams from TCU (first-year and second-year MBAs), and one team each from the University of Texas-Austin, Louisiana State University, University of Houston and Texas Southern University.

Kayvon said that one of the biggest takeaways from the experience was working on a deadline that had nothing to do with classes. “There was no grade here. If we had failed there would be no repercussions. This was about taking ownership of something and going the extra mile,” he said.

Wall St. Training judged the three elimination rounds for quantitative assessment, culling down the competitors for the final two rounds of qualitative assessment at the annual Oil & Gas Conference in Houston. Judges for the final presentations included industry professionals from BBVA, RBC Capital Markets, Goldman Sachs, Rockecharlie & Company, Talos Energy, Statesman Business Advisors, Ashton Stewart Capital, Crutchfield Capital and Moelis & Company.

Kayvon, Gus, Mike and Ray were already friends after a year in the TCU MBA program, so they leveraged that relationship to harness each other’s strengths and tighten their presentation.

Kayvon researched and built a Net Asset Value and Operating model, and then he and Gus studied Wall Street analysts’ observations to make sure they were considered.

“We delved down to the granular level, how many oil wells by acreage and how much they’ll pull out. It was a level of detail I’d never been exposed to,” Gus said.

The four spent countless hours of intense hard work to perfect their written and oral presentation and overall understanding of the model.

“Presenting in front of industry professionals who were trying to trip us up to see how far we had delved into this, we had to know beyond just what we were presenting,” Mike said. “We had to show them we had another set of knowledge that was fair game for them to ask.”

“We wouldn’t have won without hours of coming back to our presentation, practicing it and listening to each other’s feedback,” Gus said. “Only through hard work could we get it as tight and organized as we got it. We were asked some very difficult questions in the final round and we nailed them, and knew we nailed them. That felt great.”

The TCU MBA team was validated on their hard work before the results were announced.

“People approached us after the final round and told us that the judges were forced to ask us much harder questions than they had asked everyone else because we went into such a level of detail,” Ray said.

In the end, their hard work culminated in the grand prize.

“There was no money for this competition,” Kayvon said. “This was learning, and this was pride. This was showing that TCU is the top dog.”