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National IPO Challenge Offers Students Investment Banking Opportunities

For career switchers like Scott Kaldenberg and Nicole Shariatzadeh, business competitions at Chicago GSB provide networking opportunities and hands-on experience that reinforces what they learn in the classroom.

“I have an informational [meeting] today with a representative from Goldman Sachs because of the National IPO Challenge,” said Shariatzadeh. “And that’s not always easy to do in the banking industry.”

Before coming to Chicago GSB, Shariatzadeh taught high school in Orange County, California, and worked as a public relations director in the apparel industry in Los Angeles. “I worked in startups and public schools and it seemed like both were failing because they didn’t know how to manage their finances,” she said.  “I wanted to learn how to manage finances.”

After her first quarter, she said the National IPO Challenge was one of her most valuable experiences at the GSB because it allowed her to network and put some of her coursework and analytical skills into practice.

In fields like investment banking, Shariatzadeh said, you have to work hard to get networking opportunities.“Competing in the IPO Challenge gives you a direct relationship with bank representatives,” she said.

“Going into the finals,” Kaldenberg  added, “we had access to all the top banks.”

A mechanical engineer before entering the Full-Time MBA Program, Kaldenberg  had no prior banking experience. The IPO Challenge allowed him “to understand how an IPO process works from start to finish,” he said.

There’s also the added benefit of working with a diverse team, they both agreed. Their team, GreyStone Capital, who won second place in the National IPO Competition, combined key skill sets from a number of different fields, including public relations, real estate, finance, consulting, and engineering. She said their team members – also including Clair Rauh, Alex Kretschmann, and Gina Perazzo -  brought different strengths to the team, leading them to the final round against Kellogg.

Fifteen teams from the nation’s top business schools competed in the event November 3. Teams were asked to analyze the IPO of Hertz Global Holdings and give their strategic recommendations to the private equity sponsors that owned the company.

“We had 24 hours to compose our case before we came back in and presented to the judges,” Shariatzadeh said.

The National IPO Challenge is sponsored by the student-led  Investment Banking Group (IBG).  IBG touts themselves as the largest student group on the University of Chicago campus serving as a liaison among investment banks, GSB students, and GSB Career Services. The IBG brought together diverse teams from GSB, Columbia, Wharton, Harvard, Michigan, MIT, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley.

 “Whether you win or lose,” Shariatzadeh said, “it’s a great experience just to see what your peers have to offer.”

- Amy Ramsden