For the second year in a row, a team of Chicago Booth students took the top prize at a global private equity competition, a success the winners credit to the diversity of their professional backgrounds and the in-depth counsel they receive from private equity veterans while at school.
Twelve universities were invited to enter the 2022 Oxford Global Private Equity Challenge, which is hosted by the Saїd Business School at the University of Oxford, the Oxford Saїd Finance Lab, and the Private Equity Institute.
The event challenges teams to assess the potential for a leveraged buyout of a publicly listed company of their choice, simulating the real-world experience of presenting to an investment committee.
Four finalist teams were selected to present their business cases to a judging panel at a virtual finals event. The Booth team beat out fellow finalists from Oxford Saїd, Cambridge Judge Business School, and Columbia Business School.
“One of the keys to success is that we encourage diversity in teams on multiple dimensions,” said Chris McGowan, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Booth who teaches several private equity courses, seminars, and workshops. “We know diversity produces stronger teams.”
Booth requires competing teams to have one or more members with no prior private equity experience, in order to create an opportunity for students to learn from one another and to ensure career switchers have a chance to gain private equity experience, Professor McGowan said. The talent mix has proven very beneficial in developing a successful growth strategy for the case challenge, especially when the team includes a member with prior experience in areas such as marketing, operations, or competitive strategy.
This year’s winning team had two teammates with prior private equity or investing experience; the other two members had worked in consulting and operations, resulting in a powerful combination of financial and strategic insights.
“I think that was the main reason we were successful,” said Greg Caraway, who worked in private credit prior to business school. “I don’t know if we would have won if we all came from the same industry.” Along with Caraway, the winning team included Kelsey Brongo, Corbon Heizer, and Alessandro Mocio, all first-year MBA students in Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program.
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