Grad students win business competition

Allison Ribick

For the past seven years, the Western Michigan chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) has organized the ACG Cup, a case study competition for undergraduate and graduate business students. The competition is designed to offer students experience with mergers, acquisitions and financial advising.

Grand Valley State University has participated in the competition every year. This year, GVSU won the ACG Cup, making it the fifth time GVSU has won the competition.

Students AnandaKrishnan Muthusamy and Marty Gurry made up the winning GVSU team.

“The ACG Cup competition is one of the best experiences for me personally,” Muthusamy said. “Being an international student from India, the United States is a big platform for me to learn through experience – ACG and GVSU gave me such opportunity.”

The team won trophies and a $6,000 cash prize. The awards were announced on March 17 at the ACGWM Outstanding Growth Award reception at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

Both Muthusamy and Gurry noted that, on the day of the final round, they had the opportunity to interact with other university teams to network and reflect on the time-consuming experience.

“ACG does a really good job of creating an environment where there is a lot of opportunity to network formally and informally,” Gurry said.

Throughout the competition, GVSU alumni who had participated in the ACG Cup mentored Muthusamy and Gurry. GVSU also offers a specific graduate course for students wanting to participate in the ACG Cup.

“I should appreciate faculty and staff members at GVSU for designing a credit-bearing course to prepare the students for this competition,” Muthusamy said.

For both Muthusamy and Gurry, the competition allowed them to enhance skills they had acquired through their jobs.

“The competition was designed for practitioners, one level above the academic framework,” Muthusamy said. “Through this approach, I have built my competencies to work in the areas of inorganic business growth. I am glad that I was able to participate in this competition and acquire these skill sets.”

Muthusamy worked for eight years in India at companies like Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited, Tata Retail Enterprise Limited and Tata Housing Development Company Limited in Strategy & Business Excellence before joining the MBA program at GVSU.

“I personally lagged in a few skills – particularly financial analysis,” Muthusamy said. “Winning this competition has bridged those gaps. I am completing (an) MBA with an emphasis on international business and management of technology. All these learning (opportunities) with the global experience will be a catalyst in my professional career path.”

Gurry works as an internal audit director for Meijer and has already noticed the skills he learned in the class and competition have been beneficial.

“I literally applied what I was learning in preparing for the cases and techniques, such as modeling that I was doing for the case, directly in my job,” Gurry said. “(The competition) allowed me to perform work in my job over the last eight months that I would not have been able to do previously. I have gotten very positive feedback on my contribution through my role.”

The importance of the relationships between the former management, employees and new management of a business was something in particular Gurry learned.

Gurry noted that all seven GVSU students who participated in the ACG Cup put in a huge amount of time and effort, and learned a lot from the experience.

“The competition is an example of high cost, high benefit,” Gurry said. “There’s a very strong relationship between the investment that the student makes and the reward they get out of it.”

Three GVSU teams participated in the first round, which occurred in mid-January.

Davenport University, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University and Cornerstone University also had teams compete in the finals on Feb. 24.

In both rounds, the teams prepared a 20-minute presentation of their recommendations to the business cases. Industry analysis, financial analysis, target company evaluation, risk analysis and recommendations on closing the case were among the topics included in the presentation.

Business professionals from the corporate community and affiliates with the ACG acted as judges.

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