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Pitching stocks virtually

Capital Markets Lab at UNC Kenan-Flagler

The 2020 Alpha Challenge – one of the world’s premier stock-pitch competitions – was a virtual success when it was held Dec. 3-5.

The Alpha Challenge has become a primary interview hub for investment management recruitment. Three-person teams from top MBA schools pitch their long and short ideas to a panel of distinguished judges representing some of the most successful investment managers and buy-side firms in the world. The event also includes a full day of formal interviews.

Virtual for the first time in its 16-year history, UNC Kenan-Flagler leveraged the format to increase the number of schools from 16 to 19.

“If you have an interest in pursuing a career in investment management, Alpha Challenge is the place you want to be – it’s where top MBA talent meets top firms,” says Ric Colacito, finance professor and director of the capital markets and investments concentration in the Full-Time MBA Program.

First place went to Harvard Business School, with UNC Kenan-Flagler’s team of Alyssa Habig, Drew Johnson and Cullen Smith winning both second and third place.

“Every team made two pitches and our winning team had two of the four strongest pitches that made it to the final,” says Colacito.

“The success of the Alpha Challenge and our students who competed would not be possible without Jim Jones (MBA ‘06), portfolio manager at William Blair and all the other alumni who contribute to the preparation program,” says Pramita Saha, senior associate director of MBA career and leadership. “The commitment and engagement of our finance faculty and the student leaders of the Investment Management Club also are critical,” she said.

Jones co-founded the Alpha Challenge when he was an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler and remains deeply involved in it. “The country’s top-tier investment firms participate in the Alpha Challenge to identify their next generation of investment leaders,” he says.

“We have a network of very dedicated alumni who are not only the driving force behind the event, but also do an exceptional job at coaching our students from literally the first day that they step into the program,” says Colacito. “This makes a huge difference both in terms of the performance of our students in the competition and in their ability of securing internships with top firms.”

“UNC Kenan-Flagler had such a strong group of students that we were able to field two excellent teams,” says Colacito.

Members of the second team were Charlie Rodgers, Xuanying (Sherry) Dong and Conner Wright.

MBA student team teams were fielded by:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
  • Columbia University, Columbia Business School
  • Cornell University, Johnson School of Management
  • Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business
  • Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
  • Harvard Business School
  • Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business
  • Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business
  • University of California Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management
  • University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
  • University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School
  • University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin School of Business
  • Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management
  • Yale University, Yale School of Management

Presentations were judged by panels of highly regarded professionals in the investment management field – hedge fund managers, institutional portfolio managers and research analysts. They were from:

  • American Century Investments
  • Amundi Pioneer
  • Causeway Capital
  • BlackRock
  • Boardage Capital
  • Columbia Threadneedle
  • Chilton Investment Company
  • Clearbridge
  • Brandes Investment Partners
  • Desai Capital Management
  • Driehaus
  • Durable Capital Partners
  • Fayez Sarofim & Co.
  • Federated Investors
  • FAI Wealth Management
  • Franklin Street Partners
  • Franklin Templeton
  • Fred Alger Management
  • Harris Associates L.P.
  • Invesco
  • Manning & Napier
  • Investors Management Corporation
  • Loomis Sayles
  • Lord, Abbett & Co.
  • Neuberger Berman
  • Mid-Continent Capital
  • RMB Capital Management LLC
  • Peregrine Capital Management
  • Putnam Investments
  • Seamark Capital LP
  • Sirios Capital Management
  • Southeastern Asset Management
  • State of Wisconsin Investment Board
  • Sterling Capital
  • Rowe Price
  • Sun Mountain Capital,
  • The London Company
  • Victory Capital
  • WCM Investment Management
  • William Blair
  • Wells Fargo Capital
  • Yacktman Asset Management LP
  • XM Capital Partners
  • WCM

William Blair was the lead sponsor. Other sponsors were:

  • Mega Cap sponsors: American Century Investments, Black Rock, Chilton Investment Company, Harris Associates, T. Rowe Price, Yacktman Asset Management, Alyeska Investment Group
  • Large Cap Sponsors: Amundi Pioneer, Clearbridge Investments, Fayez Sarofim & Co., Alger Management, Ltd., Sirios Capital Management, Southeastern Asset Management, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Victory Capital, Thornburg Investment Management, Fidelity Investments, The London Company and Thrivent Financial.
  • In-Kind sponsor: FactSet

Watch this video to learn more about how students and firms benefit from the Alpha Challenge.

Poets & Quants wrote about the Alpha Challenge in 2016.