Our team was fortunate enough to represent UCLA Anderson in the ACG Cup case competition. The Association for Corporate Growth Los Angeles hosted the best teams from 10 schools in this annual investment banking and private equity competition. After a grueling two weeks with multiple all-nighters, David Shin (’17), Kyle Patterson (’17) and I went into the final rounds prepared and confident. In the end, our hard work and determination paid off, as we came out victorious, taking the grand prize of $10,000 — and, more important, the privilege of retaining the coveted ACG Cup for one whole year.
ACG is the global community for middle market M&A dealmakers and business leaders focused on driving growth. The ACG Cup competition provides a tremendous opportunity for aspiring dealmakers to get real-world experience while interacting and networking with leading finance professionals and organizations. It is a true showcase of talent, and current industry leaders “may just meet [their] next rising-star dealmaker.”
The road to glory is far from easy, as each year teams of two to four MBA students participate in the first round of competitions. Each team receives a case study problem based on an amalgam of actual corporate finance and M&A engagements.
One week later, student teams present their analysis, recommendations and conclusions to a panel of local ACG finance professionals consisting of bankers and M&A lawyers, who engage in a spirited debate designed to challenge and encourage the students. The competition at Anderson this year was fierce, as all of the participating teams consisted of future bankers and some of the brightest people I have ever met. Any of the teams would have done well, but we were honored to be selected as the one that would represent UCLA Anderson.
Following the school competitions, the qualifying teams from each university compete in a final round of intensive private equity case-study-based problem solving and presentations. It was another grueling week with too many all-nighters than I care to remember — and not enough coffee or Red Bull.
The competition is the best simulation of investment banking, with a ridiculous amount of work in an unrealistic time frame; basically, the name of the game for the industry. Knowing this, I attempted to rally the troops with my subpar imitation of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart speech, which David and Kyle were kind enough to listen to. My speech, coupled with the fact that our crosstown rivals, USC, had been in possession of the ACG Cup for the previous two years, lit a fire deep within the team as we spent the final four days and nights with a complete disregard for any of our other life’s responsibilities, entombed in different study pods around Anderson, consistently getting kicked out as each building shut down after 2, 3, 4 and sometimes even 5 in the morning.
In the end, our hard work paid off. As the winning team, we earned the coveted ACG Cup title, and all participants left with invaluable experience and exposure to local executives and dealmakers. I’m glad we won. But, win or lose, this tremendous experience is one for the books. UCLA Anderson is a top-tier business school that provides unparalleled opportunities; ultimately, the experience always depends on what each student makes of these opportunities. You get out what you put in. The school shows you the path, but it’s up to you to walk the steps.
I am beyond grateful for the opportunities that have been provided to me, and there is no doubt in my mind that Anderson was the right choice for me. Some of my fondest business school memories will always include trying to get a couple of hours of sleep on David Zhou’s couch, not going home and wearing the same clothes for three days straight, and feeling like a crazed person for almost two weeks. After it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t trade my experiences at Anderson for the world.