Business Graduates ‘Lit the Jets’ Surpassed Nearly 500 Teams to Win Bloomberg’s First Global Business Challenge

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A team of Stamford-based UConn graduate business students won the highly competitive 2021 Bloomberg Global Trading Challenge, overtaking nearly 500 teams from around the world.

The winning team attributed their success to a teacher’s advice for making smart and bold decisions, an investment strategy that identified overlooked companies that were responding to market demands, and their UConn training that prepared them for in-depth assessments of potential investments.

Above: Sayem Lincoln, Justin Keish and Matt Ciaburro. Below: Varun Katari and Jayabhushan Nallakannu.

Their trading portfolio topped a Bloomberg benchmark of $ 467,961. UConn’s team beat the second place winner from Prince Sultan University in Saudi Arabia by more than $ 100,000.

UConn’s student investors prevailed despite an issue at the start of the seven-week competition that prevented them from accessing all of their $ 1 million virtual investment funds, while other competitors had access to the entire liquidity portfolio.

The team, made up of students graduating from the Financial Risk Management (FRM) program at Stamford, included team leader Sayem Lincoln and members Jayabhushan Nallakannu and UConn Varun Katari ’21 alumni Justin Keish ‘ 21 and Matt Ciaburro ’21, who are in a 4 + 1 Bachelor / Masters Program. The team’s advisor is finance professor Michel Rakotomavo.

“We are very proud of these students. Winning the grand prize in a global competition, surpassing outstanding teams from all over the world, is an outstanding achievement, ” said Professor Chinmoy Ghosh, Head of the Finance Department.

“The team drew inspiration not only from their classes, but also from their teachers who encouraged them to put their knowledge to good use and apply it to the competition. Employing an investment strategy that involved bold and carefully watched risks and close attention to market developments, the team invested in a diversified portfolio of stocks ranging from vaccines to cryptocurrency, ”said Ghosh. . “These students will certainly continue to achieve excellent results during their time at UConn, and later in their careers. “

From day one the goal was to win

The five students were acquaintances, sitting next to each other in Professor Yaacov Kopeliovich’s financial risk class FRM 5315, when he told them about the competition. They spontaneously formed a team.

“From day one, the goal was to win. It was a win or a failure, ” Lincoln says. Strangers quickly became friends with frequent group meetings and almost constant strategies and calls. The team’s lowest ranking was 34th in week one.

Lincoln says their strategy focused on a wide range of investments, from vaccines to technology companies. “Regardless of the market reaction, we had a piece of the pie,” he says. “The team defended their position for three weeks at the top and faced competition from world teams ranging from Saudi Arabia to China to the UK.”

Keish says the team was a good mix of people who met mostly luckily but shared a common motivation and drive.

“We tried to follow different industries and avoid the big names that everyone was using. Everyone did what it took to find the overlooked businesses that were going to lead us to success, ”he says.

“Sayem had all the confidence in the world that we were going to win. At first I thought, ‘Come on man. There are 500 teams! ‘ But when week 2 rolled out and we were in third place, it seemed possible, ”Keish said. “We just turned on the jets! “

“We are extremely proud of this team. They were committed to winning the challenge from day one and put a tremendous amount of time, energy and thoughtful strategy into doing it! Says John A. Elliott Business School Dean. “Their success reflects not only the quality of their financial education at UConn, but also the drive, intelligence and competitiveness of the students we serve. “

The FRM program attracts those with an entrepreneurial spirit

“This is a very prestigious competition,” says Rakotomavo. “I was delighted for everyone. This team is brilliant and beating teams from all over the world, from renowned universities, was no easy task. It’s a great achievement. ”

Rakotomavo credits Kopeliovich with inspiring students to go above and beyond. “He not only knows his stuff, but he excites students for their work both in the classroom and beyond. He has incredible energy and enthusiasm. The FRM program is lucky to have him here. ”

Kopeliovich could not be more pleased with the triumph of his students.

“It’s an incredible achievement,” he says. “They selected highly speculative stocks with high potential. I think this is one of the School of Business’s most brilliant accomplishments in recent years. What I tell my students is that they need to take more risks. In our FRM program, we see students, like these, who have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. ”

UConn’s team found their first spot on November 23, but the members had already dispersed for the Thanksgiving holiday. They are planning a party night in the near future.

“Our team often had different opinions, but we always concluded what was best for the team going forward. Our decisions were very democratic. We worked perfectly together. Our goal was to win and we did everything to achieve that goal, ” says Lincoln, who hopes to work as a trader after graduation. He received his undergraduate degrees in computer science, engineering, and economics from the State of Michigan. He chose the UConn FRM program because of its reputation and strong business relationships.

“I would say we wouldn’t have won if we hadn’t all contributed equally,” says Lincoln. “The team really came together and succeeded. They were the best team I could have asked for and if I had to do it again I wouldn’t change a thing. ”

Keish said he would encourage all UConn students to step out of their comfort zone and push themselves to try something new.

“My advice to other students is to try something, to challenge yourself. It can’t hurt, ” says Keish. “A team from a college in Italy has reached out and they want to meet with us. A contest like this opens your network to the world. Take advantage of that kind of opportunity if it’s given to you. ”

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