Business Broncos take first place in ACG Cup competition

Contact: Angela DeYoung
ACG Cup winners Jake Myers, Martin Walker, Megan Rooney, Devon Kelly

ACG Cup winners, left to right, are Jake Myers, Martin Walker, Megan Rooney and Devon Kelly.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Four Western Michigan University students recently placed first for the undergraduate title at the Association for Corporate Growth Cup, winning a $6,000 cash prize. This is the first time WMU has won the competition at the undergraduate level.

Western's winning team was announced at the ACG West Michigan virtual meeting in March. The Equity Gold team placed first among 20 teams from 11 universities including University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Fordham University and University of Minnesota.

Team Equity Gold included Devon Kelly, Jake Myers, Megan Rooney and Martin Walker. WMU professors Drs. Derrick McIver and Doug Lepisto, co-directors of the Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy, and Dr. Onur Arugaslan, professor of finance, helped the students prepare for the competition.

The ACG Cup Competition requires students to analyze complex business cases and present strategies involving merger and acquisition alternatives, valuation, capital markets, finance options and corporate strategy. The virtual competition includes business leaders and schools from the Midwest and beyond. Both undergraduate and graduate students interested in finance careers participate in this event.

“Competing in the ACG Cup is a professional development opportunity that I will never forget,” Rooney says. “I learned so much from my fellow team members and the case on how to create a financial valuation using different approaches. I expanded my knowledge in analysis terminology while focusing on qualitative strategy recommendations for a company, which will be useful to me in my future career.” 

“This year's undergraduate team was unique. It was made up entirely of leadership and business strategy students,” says McIver. “There were double majors in leadership and business strategy and finance, and one student was a double major in leadership and business strategy and economics. This highlights not only the quality of WMU Haworth’s finance program, but also the important capabilities the new major and minor in leadership and business strategy can provide for students, especially through its partnership with Sleeping Giant Capital.”

Arugaslan helped the team prepare with lectures on mergers in his Corporate Finance: Theory and Practice course. In addition, he provided participants with books on mergers and valuation, as well as case solutions and presentations from previous years. He also coached the winning team on how to prepare and make their presentations.

“The competition has been virtual for the last couple of years,” Arugaslan says. “The team had submitted their presentation videos and supplemental materials beforehand. On the first day of the competition, they received feedback and learned that they had qualified for the second round. From there, teams had to make virtual presentations before qualifying for the final round taking place five days later.”

Kelly says the vast amount of business professionals, advisors and owners involved in the event benefited him in terms of learning more about the finance world. “Through our conversations, these professionals were able to give us such great insight into what made them successful and what they look for in successful presentations and finance operations. I walked away with a masterclass that I will be able to take into my future.”

Volunteer judges from commercial and investment banking, corporate law and valuation firms believe the competition is more than just a finance competition—it’s a step toward a career. ACG Cup competitors often graduate with more job options thanks to the collaborative nature of the competition’s structure and connections developed with area professionals.

As Judge Eric Kamstra of Frisia Group states, “ACG Cup provides students with a unique opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned in a classroom setting in a realistic, competitive environment. Judges have the opportunity to deliver essential, informative feedback. Participants leave better equipped to enter the professional workplace.”

ACG's 100,000 professional members come from private equity firms, corporations and lenders that invest in middle-market companies, as well as from law, accounting, investment banking, valuation and other firms that provide advisory services. Founded in 1954, ACG is a global organization with 59 chapters.

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