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As the recruiting cycle for accounting begins in early October, the Rady Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) program aims to set students up for success before classes even begin. This means efforts to engage with our students early to provide them resources and networking opportunities needed to hit the ground running when it comes to taking that next step in their career.
Rady School does this in a few ways. First, engagement with our students begins immediately with assigned summer readings. We provide our students with a number of contemporary issues found in the profession. These reading materials are not just for pool-side entertainment, but are assignments that will help our students develop their global, innovative and a data mindsets.
Second, our Career Advisors begin engagement through resume support before entering into our program. Rady School believes that it’s necessary to ensure that all MPAc students coming into the program have a strong summation of their professional skills and work experience. “We really wanted to get to know the student before arrival. We can actually increase our support of the student by leveraging what they have already learned with our program,” says James Deiotte, Executive Director of the MPAc program at Rady.
Finally, we look for ways that Rady’s MPAc students can engage with industry professionals over the summer. Events sponsored by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA) opened doors for our students to meet area professionals at conferences or business networking events.
In August, Deiotte and Michelle Tillman, Employer Relations Manager at Rady, hosted a trip with MPAc students to visit with San Francisco and San Jose accounting firms Ernst & Young, RSM International, Moss Adams and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Rady’s Bay Area Trek allowed students to meet and learn from leaders of some of the biggest accounting firms in the world. “Hearing stories from these executives on where they’ve come from made our students feel more comfortable with their own personal journey,” says Deiotte. “It was great to hear many of these business leaders speak about growth, both from a personal perspective as well as growth of the accounting profession and how it’s evolving.”
Incoming MPAc student Nizam Khan, who attended the Bay Area Trek in August, says that it was a privilege to be able to visit so many esteemed accounting firms in the industry.
Following the trip Khan said, “We had an incredibly fulfilling and insightful day. During each individual firm visit, executives shared overview presentations regarding service lines they provide, industries they serve, and work environments they establish. We were even given the opportunity to personally network with all levels of employees to answer our questions and give advice regarding the accounting industry. Overall, our visit to the Bay Area gave us a great perspective on how to best utilize our MPAc program to get into the accounting industry and be successful.”
For more information about Rady’s MPAc program, please visit https://rady.ucsd.edu/
This September, the first ever cohort of Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) students will make history as they begin classes on campus at Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego.
It’s an exciting time to be around the buzzing Rady campus, not just for the students but for the faculty and staff too. James Deiotte, Executive Director of Rady’s MPAc program, is particularly excited to kick off the 2019-2020 academic year with a refreshed take on the traditional masters of accountancy program.
“Our students will be taught by professionals in the field they’re entering. They will gain great insights as to what goes on and what’s expected to become successful in the profession,” says Deiotte. “Being taught by research faculty and industry professionals, including retired accounting firm partners, will accelerate the career development of our students.”
What makes the Rady MPAc different is that we’re leveraging on the strengths of being a young business school that is entrepreneurial at its core. Rady is a school that has a collaborative and innovative culture and the MPAc program is no exception. The collaborative approach is reflected in the program’s crossover with other disciplines offered at the school, including business, analytics, and finance.
“We have approached embedding data and business analytics into most of our classes to accelerate the understanding of these changes and putting more context around it,” says Deiotte. “For example, we want our students to understand the legal nuances and the accounting implications of what is a digital asset and how you might want to account for the acquisition of those assets. We are especially interested in the accounting and reporting related to the new and restrictive regimes arising around the world like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).”
Our program embraces students that want to change and make a meaningful impact in their careers and the profession. With the changes taking place in technology and data, students that have majored in data science, economics or international studies are finding that the accounting profession is interested in them, provided they can understand and use the language of business – accounting.
Getting into the profession is Job #1! “We’ve built a curriculum that accomplishes the most important tasks with respect to the professional development of our students,” says Deiotte. “We want to make sure that students are ready for certifications within the profession, including the CPA and CMA exams, which are both recognized globally.”
Growing in the profession and future proofing the student’s investment in their career is enhanced by Rady electives focused on leadership, communication and decision making courses and experiences from Capstones. “We have heard from firms, both large and small, that soft skills development is even more important today because of the rapid technology enabled changes taking place and the use of BOTS, AI and ML platforms,” says Deiotte.
For more information on Rady’s MPAc program, or if you’d like to apply for next year’s class, please visit https://rady.ucsd.edu/programs/masters-programs/master-of-professional-accountancy/ or email RadyGradAdmissions@ucsd.edu
Launched in 2014, the Master of Finance (MFin) program at Rady School of Management is a relatively new program. But despite its adolescence, the program and its curriculum has quickly become highly praised within the industry.
Just last year it was ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top MFin programs in the world; a huge accomplishment after a mere four years since the program’s conception. It placed 14th in the U.S. and is expected to rise higher in the future.
The highly-regarded ranking isn’t all that the MFin degree has to offer. The Rady School MFin program is a STEM-designated, CFA Institute-affiliated professional degree that delivers rigorous, hands-on training to prepare graduates to immediately contribute in environments where quantitative and analytical skills are at a premium.
Students learn leading-edge methods for analyzing big data for financial decision-making and risk management. The program’s emphasis on quantitative models and methods ensures that graduates are equipped to develop innovative solutions to the complex problems facing the financial industry.
“The Master of Finance program at Rady is designed for the current needs of the finance industry. It incorporates class work that reflects what’s going on in the industry today and includes a heavy component of data science, which is presently very important for financial firms,” says Michael Melvin, the Executive Director of the MFin program at Rady.
As Melvin notes; “It’s a quant program, so students learn quantitative skills, including financial econometrics that they can apply throughout their coursework including the final capstone research project.”
The MFin capstone is a project-based course that allows students to work with a prestigious firm within the finance industry. Students work together in teams of four and complete research that demonstrates the application of skills developed throughout the MFin program.
“Our students work with a mix of local and global firms. From San Diego to London to Hong Kong, capstone project stakeholders present students with a particular idea to research, which may cover a range of financial topics.”
These topics can include anything from portfolio construction, cryptocurrencies and bitcoin, trading issues, payments, asset management, and risk management, among many others. What’s more is that students can learn from collaborating with respected industry professionals.
Examples of capstone companies that students worked with this year include some of the top financial firms in the world, such as Goldman Sachs and BlackRock. They also worked with companies that have finance groups within them, like ViaSat, and a local La Jolla firm, Alphacore.
“Alphacore is a great example of a firm where we had students interning with them that were so successful in their research that Alphacore executives were interested in continuing the relationship and building upon what was started,” recalls Melvin.
Melvin says that “students might do a project with one firm but then that experience will lead them to opportunities with other firms as well.” Opportunities for students to network and showcase their skills often lead to their ultimate goal; employment.
“I think the MFin degree is a ticket into the industry. I used to be a Managing Director at BlackRock and we’re teaching students at Rady the skills that I wanted to hire for my teams at BlackRock, which were quantitative investing teams.”
The capstone increases employability because the students gain the skills and the abilities that firms want to hire. Not only that, but students can differentiate themselves from other job applicants because they’re able to highlight bespoke research on their resume.
“When capstone teams are doing very well, which they often do, firms will request resumes from the teams so that they can interview students, which leads to internships and permanent jobs.”
For anyone looking to enhance their career within the finance industry, the MFin program at Rady is a great place to start.
For more information about Rady’s MFin program, please visit https://rady.ucsd.edu/programs/masters-programs/master-of-finance/
“Boehringer Ingelheim knows what it takes to be innovative and entrepreneurial. From the small factory in 1885 to today’s multi-billion-dollar global pharmaceutical organization, we know how important it is to nurture and develop young science and technology businesses. Our track record of bringing breakthrough medicines to patients starts with new ideas and new science. Collaborations with external partners play an essential role in helping us deliver an innovation-led portfolio…” From “Partnering Day with Boehringer Ingelheim,” Biocom, September 21, 2017.
Three young entrepreneurs from the University of California San Diego, knew the value of the Boehringer Ingelheim prize when they pitched their business ideas to investors, faculty and students. The prize includes a “golden ticket,” or one years ‘worth of workspace at bio-labs, an infrastructure office space for startups, located on the UC San Diego campus. It also includes mentorship and exposure to investors to help the companies get a kick-start to successful innovation and connections.
The Rady School is honored to have alumni who were the last three prize-winners of the three previous years. We wanted to find out how the prize affected them, and where they are today:
The 2017 winner of the first-ever Boehringer Ingelheim Innovation prize was RIFT Biotherapeutics, a biotech company founded by Rady alum, Cory Bentley (MBA ’10).
Tell me about your company?
I founded RIFT because I saw there was a critical area of cancer biology that hadn’t been addressed: Inflammation. I believe if the inflammation in cancer is targeted, cancer treatments can be improved.
Why did you start RIFT?
I didn’t see anyone addressing cancer in this way at the time. The immune system often sees cancer as a wound that should be healed, rather than something it should get rid of. The immune system will actually make cancer stronger by supporting it with blood supply and growth factors, components of inflammation. People become resistant to anti-cancer treatments because their immune system is protecting the tumor from therapy with this inflammatory environment. It is an essential mechanism of resistance to cancer treatment. RIFT discovered an antibody-based drug that may help the immune system switch from being pro-tumoral to anti-tumoral.
How has the Rady School of Management helped you achieve your goals?
Rady gave me the confidence to know some of the significant components of starting a business and moving a large project forward. Some of these components included financing, intellectual property, accounting and people management. I wouldn’t have known how to start or run a business if I hadn’t gone to the Rady School.
The 2018 winner of the Boehringer Ingelheim Innovation prize was Epitracker, a biotech company founded by Rady alum, Eric Watson (MBA ’10).
Tell me about your company?
Epitracker is a San Diego-based life sciences company that discovers and optimizes small molecules to treat some of the world’s most devastating diseases. To date, Epitracker has analyzed millions of metabolomic, genomic and clinical data points from archived, longitudinal, serum samples collected over 50 years. Through this process, we have discovered novel small molecules that target longevity, neurodegenerative diseases, fibrotic diseases and pulmonary diseases.
Why did you start Epitracker?
Part of my background includes being a physician in the Navy. I have a passion for science, as well as the entrepreneurial and business side of the equation. I wanted to start a company and it has included both of those passions.
How has the Rady School of Management helped you achieve your goals?
Every business school has its area of expertise. The Rady School’s, is innovation, especially in the tech and biotech fields. I learned everything from the operational aspects of being an entrepreneur to handling finances as a business owner, and I was even able to grow my network within the San Diego area substantially. San Diego is an incredible city that has many key opinion leaders who are willing to help you and mentor you. The Rady School has amazing professors that will provide real-time feedback and help you develop your ideas. Knowing what you need to get started, and how to successfully develop and grow your technology, is essential.
The Boehringer Innovation prize provided lab space for a year. It helped us focus on growing the company more than anything. It also gave us credibility in terms of pitching our business to investors and experts in the field, as well as submitting for grant funding. Today, we have many compounds going through the FDA process, over 30 patents, and have raised just under three million dollars in private capital and an equal amount in grant funding. The Boehringer prize has helped us expand more rapidly by having access to a state of the art lab and a broad support network. It is an environment that is very conducive to advancing our research and our company. The combination of a Rady MBA and Boehringer Innovation prize has enabled us to accomplish much in a relatively short period. Thank you, Rady and BI!
If you’d like to read more about Epitracker, click here: http://www.epitracker.com/
The 2019 winner of the Boehringer Ingelheim Innovation prize was Darkwood Pharma, a biotech company founded by Rady alum, Simon Bailey (MBA ’11).
Tell me about your company?
Darkwood Pharma is a drug discovery company, focusing on developing novel therapies for fibrosis, with a particular emphasis on liver fibrosis due to advanced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a progressive liver disease that affects millions of Americans, causing fibrosis and cirrhosis, and it will be the leading cause of liver transplantation by 2020. Darkwood Pharma’s mission is to discover and develop liver-targeted compounds which will halt and reverse fibrosis and prevent cirrhosis in this disease, for which there is currently no approved treatment, despite intense interest from the pharma/biotech world. By developing compounds that selectively act in the liver, our approach will both increase the effectiveness of the drug as well as minimize side effects which will benefit these severely ill patients.
We are hoping to have our first drug candidate molecule identified in 2020.
Why did you start Darkwood Pharma?
I’ve spent my entire career working in drug discovery, leading diabetes and oncology medicinal chemistry departments at a large pharmaceutical company then as head of research for a mid-sized biotech. I’ve been very fortunate to have led teams that have discovered many drug candidates, including two that been approved for use in lung cancer. So, if I ever started a company, it was going to be a drug discovery company.
The specific reason for founding Darkwood Pharma is that in NASH there is a compelling combination of unmet medical need and scientific opportunity that attracted me. I recognized that a small company that can be singularly focused on developing liver-targeted drugs, that can be flexible and nimble in a way that larger companies can’t, would be differentiated from the competition. Plus, I thought it would be fun.
How has the Rady School of Management helped you achieve your goals?
In a way, the Rady School led to me applying for the Boehringer-Ingelheim Innovation Prize. I went to the BI prize event in 2018 to support another Rady School company, long before I had founded Darkwood Pharma, and so it was on my radar to apply for it this year. The judging process involves a pretty rigorous evaluation by BI scientists as well as their “Research Beyond Borders” external innovation group, so it was pleasing to hear the positive feedback and validation of the science and the company concept after such a thorough process. We are continuing to explore a possible collaboration with BI since NASH is a focus area for them.
More generally, going to the Rady School allowed me to connect with and learn much more about the local San Diego biotech/entrepreneur ecosystem, than I ever had the opportunity to do during the 20 years I spent working for a large pharma company. This included venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and small biotech companies. I gained an appreciation of how that world works. Also, San Diego is an active environment for innovation, and we need people creating companies here, not in Boston or the Bay Area. The Rady School is a great way to make connections and get involved to continue to build the San Diego innovation community.
Find out more about Darkwood Pharma here: www.Darkwoodpharma.com
1) Why a Ph.D.?
My background in the natural sciences led to my interest in applying for a Ph.D. in the social sciences. Specifically, questions I encountered while working in conservation education at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, sparked my interest in marketing and decision-making. I noticed that a lot of the efforts we had been making at the aquarium to encourage individuals to care about the environment and to make changes in their daily lives were not as effective as we had hoped. I started to wonder what we could be doing better and how to motivate individuals to engage in environmentally friendly practices.
2) Why did you choose the Rady School?
While I was completing a master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I met Ayelet Gneezy, associate professor of behavioral sciences and marketing at the Rady School, who encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D. She saw my unique interest in understanding what motivates individuals to make decisions that are better for the environment and better for our society as a whole. The Rady School’s Ph.D. program was brand new at the time so there was no program history to go by, but there were exceptional faculty, like Professor Gneezy, whom I knew I might have the chance to work with if I applied.
3) What was the focus of your research?
During my doctoral studies, I explored barriers and motivators of prosocial behavior within the contexts of pro-environmental choices, climate change and charitable giving.
4) What was it like collaborating with Rady faculty?
I enjoyed my time collaborating with the Rady School faculty. There is a wonderful cache of talent at the Rady School. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from the faculty and fellow students, who both challenged and inspired me. The faculty has a welcoming, open-door culture that helped to encourage both asking questions, and learning from the answers.
5) Most valuable experience at the Rady School?
The Rady School seemed to foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and interdisciplinary pursuit of knowledge, which was essential in supporting the types of questions I was (and am) interested in. As a result of this openness, I had the opportunity to work with people across UC San Diego. I collaborated with UC San Diego’s Political Science and Psychology departments, as well as with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation as an IGERT Fellow, the National Science Foundation’s flagship interdisciplinary training program.
6) Fun fact about you?
I was a contestant on the Family Feud two years in a row while in middle school.
7) Post-Ph.D. career?
I am walking in the footsteps of my faculty advisors. I am an assistant professor in the marketing unit at Harvard Business School.
8) One thing about the Rady School that you didn’t expect?
The endless supply of beautiful sunsets. I grew up in San Diego, so I am no stranger to sunsets, but the Rady School truly has an excellent view. It made working late worth it!
What happens when someone with Ph.D. in psychology ends up in a B-school? You get fascinating research looking into how expressing emotions like compassion or pride in the workplace can create meaningful connections. Or how body language and nonverbal behaviors can impact first impressions and potential business deals. That is exactly what you get in Chris Oveis’ core Leadership courses at the Rady School of Management at the University of California-San Diego.
“Professor Oveis has a remarkable presence and unique teaching style in his Leadership class,” one student said. “He encourages every single of students to interact proactively and facilitate discussion to make us learn from the cohort. His lecture is extremely well organized, dynamic and attractive. Discussion point is very clear and the evidence introduced in class is well supported based on scientific research. He always embodies leadership when he teaches the class. I’ll definitely recommend his class for the next year MBA students.”
Oveis has won multiple awards in research and teaching. He received dozens of thoughtful recommendations and nominations from colleagues, current students, and alumni and was exemplifies exactly what this project sets out to feature. In his spare time, Oveis is hanging with his kids or taking advantage of the weather, outdoor playground, and brewery scene San Diego is famous for.
Current Age: 38
At current institution since what year? 2011
Education: UC Berkeley, Ph.D. Psychology; University of Virginia, B.A. Psychology
List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Leadership
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I wasn’t focused on working in a business school–UC-SD Rady was the draw. It’s a great environment—interdisciplinary, interactive, challenging, and fun. Across areas, the faculty are amazing at what they do and great to work with, and really talented new faculty show up every year. My work has benefited from and been shaped by new perspectives from my colleagues.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
My research focuses on the role of emotion in social interactions. Right now, I’m trying to understand how people deal with their anxiety in performance situations, and how this affects their teammates. To study this, my team and I constructed a “Shark Tank” in our lab in which pairs of teammates design and pitch products while their physiological responses are measured. We found that people who are trained to think of their anxiety/arousal as helpful rather than harmful show more efficient cardiovascular responding when pitching a product, and more strikingly so do their teammates.
If I weren’t a business school professor… I would form a band and play on Top of the Pops
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I want all of my students to learn as much as possible, so I try and make each meeting memorable and attention-grabbing in a different way, and I try to make each assignment meaningful. I also want my students to have extremely active conversations where everyone gets involved, everyone listens to each other, and everyone constructively engages with each other, and I work really hard to facilitate these things. Finally, I try to identify what is important within each cohort to tailor the material a bit to help meet the students’ goals. Overall, I’m trying to make my course fun and useful for as many students as possible.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: Hot! San Diego had an unusual heat wave that week, which knocked out the air conditioning in the room. At first, I thought I was just nervous, but when I realized I wasn’t the only one sweating we found another room and carried on with an awesome first meeting.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That teaching MBA’s is a lot of fun! No two classes that I teach are alike, and every cohort of students keeps the material fresh by bringing in their own perspectives and concerns.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
The students at UCSD Rady are really engaged and intelligent and have such a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. I learn a lot from them. The most enjoyable thing is seeing how much effort our students put into helping each other achieve their goals.
What is most challenging?
The 5-day, 30-hour version of my leadership course is a fun physical and mental challenge for both me and the students. It’s also my favorite format, in part because it’s the first course they take. We all get to celebrate and commiserate with each other at the end of the week.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: There’s not really a type. I care about all of my students, and can think of a lot of favorites with extremely different backgrounds, personalities, approaches to the course, etc.
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:
What are your hobbies?
These days I mostly get into whatever my kids are into. One thing I like to do is check out new breweries with friends. San Diego has more than 100 breweries — one great organic brewery, Protector, was even started by a Rady alum.
How will you spend your summer?
Learning all of the intricacies of the PJ Masks series. I have some theories about the origins of the Ninjalinos.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: I’m grateful to live in San Diego, where I’m a 15-minute drive from any number of beaches. Spending the day at Coronado with my family — morning on the beach, lunch at Miguel’s, eat an ice cream cone, and back in time for naptime — that’s a pretty awesome mini vacation.
Favorite book(s): The Gruffalo
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
I’m pretty into the Ducktales revival, and Sharp Objects and Russian Doll were great. Also, The Great Mouse Detective is the most underrated Disney film of all time is a hill I will die on.
Favorite type of music: 2005 Indie Pop.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Free tuition, free coffee, and Dippin’ Dots.
Faculty and administrators say:
“Chris Oveis is a valued professor at the Rady School of Management, earning an ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award in 2016 from MBA students. His research focusing on emotions has been frequently cited by other scholars and he received a $1.1 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study the social and emotional factors that make employees thrive in the workplace. In addition, his research has been featured in stories by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and Psychology Today.”
“Professor Oveis has a remarkable presence and unique teaching style in his Leadership class. He encourages every single of students to interact proactively and facilitate discussion to make us learn from the cohort. His lecture is extremely well organized, dynamic and attractive. The discussion point is very clear and the evidence introduced in class is well supported based on scientific research. He always embodies leadership when he teaches the class. I’ll definitely recommend his class for the next year MBA students.”
“Chris Oveis has a passion for teaching leadership and researching the role of emotion, power and nonverbal behavior in social interactions. Students look forward to his classes in a way that is rare in an MBA program, never knowing what to expect. He mixes a healthy but appropriate dosage of humor with serious topics. One of his favorite techniques is to lecture to one side of the room, and, without breaking eye contact with that side, asks a question of an unsuspecting person on the opposite side. It always kept us on our toes. Chris teaches to inform the students, to make them empathetic to serious issues, to make them aware of the impact of their experiences on new situations and decision-making, and to provide positive leadership tools. Most importantly, Chris conveys a great deal of important knowledge in a way that his students are not inclined to forget.”
Written by Nathan Allen, find his blog here:
A team of Rady School of Management Master of Finance students recently headed to Irvine to compete in the ACG Cup – a case study competition hosted by the Association for Corporate Growth.
Nine teams from leading business schools across Southern California gathered to compete for the $10,000 prize awarded to the team with the best business plan. The task? To present valuation, capital markets, and merger and acquisition strategic advice to a panel of seasoned industry professionals affiliated with the ACG.
The Rady School team was comprised of Sairam Chitneni, Ishaan Khanna and Jason Kleideris, all members of the 2019 Master of Finance cohort. In order to qualify for the competition, the students competed against three other Rady School teams to see which team had the best presentation for solving a complex investment banking strategy. Local ACG members judged the four teams based on the strategy, implementation plan and presentation, selecting Chitneni, Khanna and Klederis as the finalists.
Once the finalists were selected, they were given a case study to complete in one week.
“This competition is unique because participants are able to assume the roles of investment bankers,” Chitneni said. “We were given a scenario for a fictitious company, then had to create a plan that described whether the company should divest some of its assets or buy another company based on the information we were given.”
The real-world relevance of the competition is what inspired Khanna to get involved with a team.
“I thought this would be an interesting opportunity to take what I’ve been learning in class and apply it to a situation I’ll be dealing with in my future career,” he said. “I was interested in the idea of building a complex plan from scratch. We learn these things theoretically, but building them, applying them practically and especially getting in front of people who actually do this kind of work for a living – I thought that this would be an amazing opportunity.”
To prepare for the finals, the team members enlisted the help of members of the Rady community.
Professor William Mullins helped guide the team in the right direction, providing invaluable insight into empirical banking and corporate finance. Professor Jeremy Bertomeu also supported the team by helping with some of the harder theoretical problems in the case.
In the first part of the competition, the team had a pristine report, but lacked the presentation skills to deliver a clear and concise report of their findings. Robert Schmidt, a lecturer at the Rady School, helped the team fine-tune their presentation skills.
“Professor Schmidt’s expertise in business communication helped us develop new ways to present our data,” Kleideris said. “We put together a comprehensive and clear plan, but we initially had some trouble presenting it in a way that was easy to understand. The goal of this competition was to be able to take complex information and present it in a way that is effective and cohesive, and Schmidt was extremely helpful when it came to developing our team’s communication skills.”
The final showdown
Armed with the knowledge and confidence, the Rady School team of financial experts donned their investment banker personas and headed to Chapman University to face Southern California’s finest business graduate teams in the ACG Cup Finals.
After the initial presentation, the Rady School team advanced to the final round, knocking out powerhouse teams including the USC Marshall School of Business and the UCLA Anderson School of Business. Pepperdine University and UC Irvine faced off against the Rady School team in the final round. The team was tasked with expanding on their presentation and were asked rapid-fire questions from a panel of ACG chapter member professionals.
Although the team placed second to UC Irvine, judges mentioned that the final score margins were razor-thin.
“We were very pleased with the outcome,” Chitneni said. “We were the only team comprised of Master of Finance students. All other teams were from either MBA or Executive MBA programs, and a lot of those students were older professionals who currently work in the relevant fields.”
A worthwhile experience
Each member of the team emphasized the value of participating in the competition.
“We spent hours working on our presentation, but the experience and relevance to our future careers was invaluable,” Khanna said. “If we enter this field professionally, this is similar to the projects we’ll have every day in our careers.”
Chitneni echoed these statements, adding that he gained valuable personal and professional skills through his involvement with the competition.
“This experience really challenged me to improve my presentation skills – I really improved from the first time we presented in the Rady competition, to when we were presenting in front of an entire room filled with professionals at the final event,” he said. “I also think participating in this event improved my evaluation skills. We have studied these concepts theoretically, but applying them in real-world scenarios helped me understand the importance of those assumptions.”
The ACG Rady veterans hope that their success will inspire more Rady School students to participate in next year’s competition.
“I’m definitely interested in helping out next year’s team in the competition – I feel that all Rady graduate students would enjoy the experience,” Kleideris said. “Since we’ve been through it, we understand what the judges are looking for and how to develop a compelling presentation. I think we could be valuable resources for future Rady School teams, and we would be happy to stay involved and help them out.”
With these experts backing the next generation of Rady ACG Cup participants, the school can expect the trophy case located in the Student Services office to grow in the near future.
Founded in 1954, the Association for Corporate Growth has chapters worldwide representing 14,500 members. ACG serves 90,000 investors, executives, lenders and advisers to growing middle-market companies. ACG’s mission is to drive middle-market growth.
For Assistant Professor Krisztina Buti, the field of corporate finance is her natural habitat. Her impressive academic background includes a Ph.D., a chartered financial analyst, a master’s in economics and an MBA, while her experience comes from over eight years in financial advisory positions.
A native Hungarian, Buti’s career in corporate finance began with management positions at Creditanstalt Investment Bank and Concorde Aquila Corporate Finance, a venture capital firm based in Budapest. She participated in the privatization of formerly state-owned enterprises via private placements, initial public offerings and seasoned offerings. “Corporations and banks needed capital injections to become competitive,” Buti said. “The new owners brought managerial know-how, technological expertise, and marketing skills. The stock market allowed investors to profit from this growth.”
Buti would then shift her career toward an academic role, in part, because of family. “Investment banking is incredibly challenging,” Buti said. “You gain enormous experience, but you work long hours under high pressure. I changed to a field where I can use my expertise, but allow a life outside of work.”
She decided to take a position as senior lecturer at Central European University, a premier academic institution in Europe. She was responsible for coordinating the finance area and teaching courses for MBA students. “I adopted a case study based approach,” she said. “Students appreciated the depth of knowledge gained from analyzing problems from multiple angles.”
Inspired by the world of academia, Buti decided to pursue a new challenge by enrolling in the financial economics Ph.D. program at the University of Utah. She credits this experience for gaining an invaluable understanding of theory and methodology that allows her to conduct research. Her research focuses on corporate finance, particularly major corporate transformations, like acquisitions and restructurings.
Buti’s recent papers examine how the market learns about a firm’s internal investment opportunities from the acquisition announcement and how market frictions influence the price response. She chose to come to Rady because of its excellent finance department, the emerging entrepreneurial environment and the tight-knit community.
“There is more opportunity for meaningful interaction in the faculty and with the students,” she said. “I appreciate the opportunity to work in such a dynamic department. Also, who wouldn’t want to come to San Diego? This city is amazing.”
An alumni of the Rady School of Management harnessed his MBA degree to start innovative companies making major breakthrough in his industry. Suman Kanuganti (MBA ’14) was honored by the San Diego Business Journal as a “San Diego’s Next 40 Top Business Leaders Under 40.” Each year, the publication devises a list of business leaders making a difference in the San Diego community. Four alumni of UC San Diego – including Kanuganti – were named on the list.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are two major curriculum focuses at the Rady School, and Kanuganti took advantage of the school’s core sequence, Lab to Market, to help launch and grow his businesses Aira. Aira is a company dedicated to helping the visually impaired community through technology. In addition, Aira is a graduate of Rady’s StartR Accelerator. Today, Aira continues to grow, earning recognition and funding, expanding operations across the country and making positive contributions to economy.
Suman Kanuganti launched Aira Tech Corp while pursuing his MBA at the Rady School. During his time in the FlexMBA program, Kanuganti also worked at Qualcomm as a product development consultant. Inspired by a visually impaired friend’s tenacity and ambitious nature, Kanuganti created Aira, a technological platform that connects blind and visually impaired ‘explorers’ with remote agents that enable them to navigate the world with increased autonomy. Using smart glasses, explorers are able to share their field of vision with the agents who can help them with tasks, such as navigating grocery stores, locating bus stops, maneuvering through airports and more. Aira continues to expand, forming partnerships with popular ridesharing mobile application Lyft, and securing contracts with universities and airports across the country.