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Baruch Business Students Excel in Five Major Competitions

MBA Teams and Undergrads from the Zicklin School Tackle Entrepreneurship, Mergers & Acquisitions, Trading and More

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The real winners are not always the people who walk away with the biggest cash prizes.

This semester a host of Baruch College students, most but not all from the Zicklin School of Business, have taken part in several prestigious national and international competitions, each designed to identify, cultivate, and reward future corporate and business leaders. By all reports they found these rigorous competitions to be bracing and eye-opening immersions in real world business challenges.

Frank Fletcher, director of graduate studies at the Zicklin School, reflected on the value of these exercises: “Competitions provide students the occasion to showcase their leadership, analytical, teamwork and communications skills to a variety of audiences,” Fletcher said. “They offer students a unique experiential learning opportunity that mirrors the competitive nature of the business world. And, they enable students to serve as ambassadors for the school and broaden their professional network”

Rice University

Team Bennu

A team of three young entrepreneurs, led by Ashok Kamal (far right) traveled to Houston, Texas to take part in what Fortune magazine has described as “the World Series and the Superbowl” for student entrepreneurs. The Rice University Business Plan competition is the wealthiest and most prestigious of its kind in the country, awarding more that $800,000 in prizes to students. The Baruch team which, in addition to Kamal, included Sayaka Eto and Kevin Ng, was one of 42 (of 420 original entries) to make it to the final round of judging in Houston. According to Kamal, it was a very intense, high-energy three days, with the Baruch entry, Bennu, a “green” backpack, competing against a slew of high-tech products, including the ultimate grand prize winners, BiologicsMD, LLC, a team from the University of Arkansas.

“We were the only consumer good in the field,” Kamal reported. The Baruch team had very positive feedback from the judges, who were particularly pleased with the Bennu team’s “elevator pitch,” a segment in which competitors are given 60 seconds to describe their product (see video of Bennu’s pitch)

“The contacts we made and the clarity we gained are invaluable,” Kamal wrote in a letter to Dean Elliott and other Zicklin supporters.

Aspen Institute

A team of four Baruch students competed in the Aspen Institute’s 2010 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition, an invitation-only event. In this contest, focused on social responsibility, an international field of 25 leading business schools submitted proposals to “inspire future business to innovate at the intersection of corporate profits and social and environmental impacts.” In the final round of the competition, the best campus teams from each school vied against each other. Celine Sollsken-Ruben-Salama, Rachel Dugas, Matthew Morokian and Diego Gonzalez, all MBA students, made up the Baruch team, which submitted a case study of The Tata Group, a 140-year-old conglomerate based in Mumbai, India, with a long-standing tradition of corporate social responsibility. The case study looked at how the Tata Group could achieve sustainable growth in a global economy, while maintaining its long tradition of ethical and social-oriented business practices.

Reaching Out

Baruch students were triumphant in the 2010 Reaching Out MBA Case Study Competition. A three-person team consisting of Donna D’Alessandro, Leslie Mackrell, and Eric Pliner, Zicklin MBA students, beat out Harvard Business School (2nd place) and Columbia University Business School (3rd place). Understandably, their victory over two of the Ivy League’s best was a great source of pride to the administration and staff of the Zicklin School. Reaching Out is an organization that promotes networking, visibility, and the educational capabilities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) business students, many of whom will become future business leaders. The winning team from Baruch produced a case study of Bradshaw, a company that makes kitchen appliances.

Association for Corporate Growth (ACG)


This spring, Baruch students also participated in the ACG New York Cup, a Mergers and Acquisition case history competition. This event began nationally with a preliminary round in February in which 50 schools took part. In April, regional finals were held and the Baruch team of Yuri Prokhorov, Dave Sedelnick, and Oytun Sepin, all Honors MBA students graduating in ’10, competed against other regional New York schools including Cornell, Pace, Fordham, NYU, and Hofstra. The Baruch team placed second, behind NYU, taking away $1000 in prize money.

Penn State Trading Strategy Competition

Last but not least, Baruch students participated in the Penn State Trading Strategy Competition in which individual students were asked to develop and implement trading strategies for a variety of financial instruments, including stocks, currencies, and commodities. Many Baruch students participated in this competition, including 78 from Bruce Kamich’s course in Technical Analysis. In this competition, which extended for almost a month, 4 of the top 10 traders proved to be Baruch students, including John Jurcevic, from the Weissman School’s Master’s in Financial Engineering program, and three Zicklin undergraduates, Tabrez Haider, Mikhail Shamia, and Wei Huang.