NUS Business School celebrates wins at global case competition

NUS Business School students often excel on the world stage at international competitions, and the recently-held 2021 Asia Investment & Banking Conference-HSBC (AIBC-HSBC) competitions proved to be no exception.

A team comprising undergraduate students Calvin Chur, Cynthia Lew and Marvin Chang bagged the top prize in the AIBC-HSBC Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Case Competition, while second year finance student Zhao Danfeng emerged as the global champion in the individual trading category (hedge fund scenario) in the AIBC-HSBC Sales and Trading Competition.

Taking their best shot

Sharing an interest in investment banking, Calvin, Cynthia and Marvin were actively seeking avenues to test and continually hone their skills. Wanting to challenge themselves by pitting against the best, the trio decided to take a shot at one of the world’s longest running and most prestigious M&A competitions.

Separately, Danfeng was invited by a friend to join another competition organised by AIBC – the AIBC-GIC Asset Management Stock Pitch Competition. While scrolling through the competition website for more information, he chanced upon the Sales and Trading competition category of the AIBC-HSBC competitions, and decided to participate in it instead, given his interest in this field of finance.
The road to victory

Winning did not come easy for the trio during the AIBC-HSBC M&A Case Competition. Calvin, Cynthia and Marvin often had to pivot the entire focus of their discussions and strategy upon discovering flaws in their logic and argument. However, rather than becoming discouraged and frustrated, the team was undaunted, choosing to view their experiences as meaningful exposure to the intricacies of M&A deal-making. The process of re-thinking their strategy also made their analysis more robust as it ensured that they had formulated a comprehensive set of alternatives.

For Danfeng, his greatest challenge came from having to manage multiple trade positions amid simulations of rapid market fluctuations, which pushed him to be nimble and analyse fast. Remaining steady and resolute, he adjusted quickly to the intensity and pace of the competition, exercising great caution in his execution, so as to minimise mistakes.

Eventually, through quick thinking, rigorous analysis and meticulous execution, both the case competition team and Danfeng emerged victorious in their respective categories.

Recounting the high points of the competition

“Looking back, we realised the true highlight of the competition was surprisingly not the winning announcement. Rather, it was the little junctures along the way that really tested our resilience and discipline which were the highlights.”, Calvin recounted. He added that coming up with a project timeline, as well as ensuring everyone kept to it through regular sync-up meetings and late-night brainstorming sessions, were the memories that made the experience meaningful.

For Danfeng, the sheer dynamism and pace of the trading simulation invoked a great rush of adrenalin and excitement, which was a key highlight for him. He shared, “I really enjoyed the atmosphere and intensity of the competition as it pushed me to perform better than usual. The simulations have shown me the value of analysing and thinking quickly under great pressure and intensity which is what happens in actual trading floor situations in investment banks.”

Despite their commendable achievements, the students do not plan to rest on their laurels. Armed with a growth mindset, all four intend to make the most of the wealth of opportunities available to them at NUS Business School in the form of other competitions and internship experiences.