Real-World Competition Seen As Win-Win for Students and Company
Two teams of students at the Mason School of Business won the first-ever Invictus Challenge this spring. Invictus Consulting Group, LLC sponsored the inaugural challenge hosted at The College of William & Mary. The competitions within the challenge aimed to provide students with real-world experience, while also helping solve issues relevant to the company.
Based in New York, Invictus is a financial advisory firm specializing in risk profiling, bank stress testing and groundbreaking data analytics. The company created two competitions in different areas of business management for the event. One challenged students to address a data analytics problem. Invictus allowed students to use proprietary data to help solve the issue presented. The other asked students to recommend a strategic marketing plan for Invictus.
The goal of the challenge was “to establish on a selective basis a strategic corporate relationship with leading universities that focus on financial services market research topics of mutual interest to Invictus and the school,” wrote Lisa Getter in an Invictus press release about the competition. Ms. Getter is a Partner and the Director of Communications and Marketing at Invictus.
Adam Mustafa, Thomas P. Rideout and J. Chester “Chet” Gibson ’79 traveled to the College for the event, representing Invictus as judges. Mr. Mustafa is a Managing Partner and the head of Client Delivery and Development at Invictus. Mr. Rideout is both the Strategic Adviser at Invictus and one of the Mason School of Business’ Executive Partners. Mr. Gibson, who holds a MS in Mathematics from William & Mary, is a Managing Partner and the Chief Operating Officer at Invictus. Also, Kamal Mustafa, the Founder and Chairman of Invictus, participated in the teleconference follow up of the event.
The Boehly Center for Excellence in Finance and the Center’s Financial Modeling Club assembled teams of undergraduates to compete in the challenge. Both were also integrally involved in the planning of the event. Although many teams were comprised of Mason students, several teams had members from numerous academic backgrounds. Co-Presidents of the Financial Modeling Club, John Bracaglia ’14 and Cooper Nederhood ’14 spearheaded the competition. In addition to promoting the competition around campus, they worked with Mason faculty and staff to arrange the event.
The winners of the Data Analytics Competition were J.W. Seo ’14, Nikolai Morse ’15 and Peter Voth ’15. Mr. Seo graduated as a finance major in May. This fall, he plans to join the Advisory for Financial Services group at EY in New York City. Mr. Morse, a finance major, is interning with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Chicago this summer. Mr. Voth, a finance and computer science double major, is interning at Perella Weinberg Partners in New York City this summer. Both Mr. Morse and Mr. Voth are rising seniors.
“[The] quantitative portion of [the] Invictus case competition was a very intriguing experience since our objective was rather unclear. We were asked to present any trends we could discover from an enormous data set instead of having a defined goal for the project. It was definitely a worthwhile and challenging case competition that encouraged us to think creatively,” said Mr. Seo said about his experience with the Data Analytics Competition.
The winners of the Strategic Marketing Challenge were Matthew Renn ’14 and Joseph Stief ’14. Mr. Renn plans to join Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City this fall. Mr. Stief is moving to the west coast and starting at Cain Brothers in San Francisco in the fall. Both were finance majors and graduated from the Mason School of Business last month.
Hailed as a success by all, Invictus and the Boehly Center hope to continue the Invictus Challenge as an annual event. Impressed by the professionalism, thoroughness and creativity of the winning teams, Mr. Mustafa and Invictus are using some of the ideas and content presented in each competition. Likewise, Mr. Nederhood described the competition as “a tremendous success and we hope to build on this in coming years!” Not only that, students who participated in the challenge also walked away having solved real-world data analytics and market research issues. The win-win event established a strategic partnership among Invictus, the Mason School of Business and the Boehly Center.