Second Place. Again.
The Manchester MBA’s team have just returned from the Rotterdam School of Management’s European Private Equity Competition and, as seems to be the recurring theme in my MBA, finished second to the hosts by one judge’s vote at the final stage. Again, the feeling of “what might have been” is gnawing at my insides but is mollified somewhat by the knowledge that multiple finishes in the Champions League positions is at least a sign of consistent performance. Even the great Matt Busby had to finish second four times before winning his first league title at Manchester United.
The RSM competition simulates the thought process of a Private Equity firm but in a fraction of the time that they have. On the Monday of the week we were given a brief detailing a company that the Private Equity house were considering. We then had 48 hours to rip through the numbers and strategy to decide whether the PE house should buy the company, what they should do with it, how much they should pay for it, who they could sell it onto and how much money they could make. This had to be distilled into a two page document and a short slide deck that was presented to the professional judges on the Saturday in Amsterdam.
The preparation process was certainly intense. An M&A in (almost) a day if you will. Our brief was for a deal in 2004 so we had to put ourselves in pre-financial crisis mode when banks were making crazy loans for leverage buyouts. The difficulty was keeping our heads in that year and not putting our knowledge of what happened during the crash into our solution.
Finals day began with the teams being split into three groups and presenting in front of a small panel of judges. Following victory in our group stage we progressed to the final where all three teams were simultaneously grilled by the full eleven man jury. Our interrogation went well and we successfully batted away the probing questions that came our way. Off the back of this we were pretty hopeful going into the announcement but it didn’t quite go our way. Rotterdam had also made a solid case and the judges went for them by a majority of one.
Still, we could take consolation in finishing as the top UK team in the competition and the
beers in central Amsterdam that evening dulled a little of the disappointment. It’s unlikely that I’ll participate any more competitions during the remainder of my MBA but, following the multiple second places (with our victory in SVCIC being the honourable exception) you can be sure that I’d rather crash and burn spectacularly in the preliminary rounds than miss out by a whisker again.