Business students win national case competition, will represent U.S. in international competition

A team of four undergraduate business students took first place in the national round of the KPMG Global Case Competition in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 22, and will represent the United States at the international competition in Athens, Greece, in April.

The team — sophomore Louis Brotherton of Seattle, Wash.; senior Andrea Kensy of Upper Holland, Pa.; junior Swayze Smartt of Dallas, Texas; and junior Zachary Zimbile of Allenwood, N.J. — will be recognized during a program on Feb. 2 at 10:45 a.m. in the atrium of Kirby Hall. The event is open to the Wake Forest community.

During the competition, the students had three hours to read a case from the Harvard Business School, analyze the problems, and prepare a presentation. The case involved a bio-tech start-up company, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.

“The company was on the cusp of pushing its first drug through the final phases of FDA approval but was quickly running out of cash,” Smartt said. “I think we all had decided within the first ten minutes after reading the case that pursuing venture debt was the best solution. Once this was decided, we had to determine the specific structure of the debt — how much to issue, when the debt was due and whether to include warrants or other provisions to make the debt more attractive. We boiled the 20-page case down to its essential question: Where’s the cash going to come from?”

The team made its presentation via video conference to the KPMG judges in New York City. They found out later that night that they had won the competition over teams from six other universities.

“These students represented Wake Forest and themselves extremely well,” said Yvonne Hinson, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Faculty Fellow and associate professor of accountancy who directs the undergraduate and graduate accountancy programs. “We could not possibly be more proud of Andrea, Louis, Swayze, and Zachary. Their hard work has certainly paid off.”

The students first won a University-wide competition in November to advance to the national level. “When reflecting on their presentation in November, this team was well-prepared and articulate and showed a tremendous amount of strategic and critical thinking and were ‘quick on their feet’ in responding to my and the other judges questions,” said Jose R. Rodriguez, Regional Professional Practice Partner for KPMG LLP. “What was also very impressive was that they acted as a ‘team’ in that every member made a significant contribution in the presentation and in responding to questions.

“As a member of the Board of Visitors of the Wake Forest Schools of Business, as well as a partner and member of KPMG’s U.S. Board of Directors, I’m extremely proud that these students, and Wake Forest, are representing the U.S. at our global competition.”

Teams from Baylor University, Lehigh University, University of Notre Dame, University of Illinois, University of Maryland and University of Southern California also competed in the case competition.

Categories: National, School of Business, Student, Wake Forest College