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Student Corner

PRMIA Case Competition 2019: An Exceptional Experience

Written by: Tunç Utku
Originally published at: A Few Good Minds Blog

For those who are interested in financial risk management, the PRMIA case competition is an ideal environment. It is a unique opportunity for students to develop themselves in the risk management field by working on a real-world problem. This case competition happens every year, and consists of two stages: regional and international.

Regional Round in Vancouver

As an ambitious team consisting of Tunc Utku, Iris Fan, Jessie Wu, and Priyaadarshini Elango, our journey started well before the release of the case. We took many recommendations and insights from our professors and senior students who had experienced a case competition environment in the past. After the release of the case, we gathered all of our resources and started working on it as a team.

Over a period of four short weeks, we analyzed the operations of a grain handling company and found ways to mitigate their risks. In addition, our coding skills were tested via using MATLAB as a part of an optimization of an electricity provider. After a dedicated marathon, we finally drafted our deliverables. The presentation stage was challenging. Four judges, from various companies and with extensive knowledge about risk management field, challenged us with difficult questions during the Q&A session. However, we stayed calm, managed to answer questions well and gladly made it to the global finals!

Preparation for the International Round

Qualifying for the next competition round boosted our performance and motivation. The new case was released shortly after regional finals and was about digital transformation: how technology will impact the banking ecosystem in terms of risk mitigation, talent management, and products.

Although this time the case was more challenging, we were lucky to find an amazing mentor, Fernand Wong. With Fernand’s guidance, we approached the final case as a professional project. We used mind maps to create a connection between our key ideas and allocated the work regarding our availability to improve our productivity. Finally, we tried to create a fluent, flowing presentation so as to never lose the judge’s attention. At the end of an intense month, we managed to finish our work. We were ready for the finals!

The Big Day

The international round was held March 28-30th in Montreal, hosted by PSP Investments. After exploring the city for an hour, we went back to the hotel and practiced our presentation. The next day, we met our competitors who were coming from various universities in Canada, the United States, and Europe. 10 Teams divided into two groups, and the winners of each group were scheduled to present for the second time in front of the entire judge’s panel and other university teams.

We started our presentation smoothly and confidently. All of the judges commented on our performance and we patiently waited for the results. Before the announcement of the two finalist teams, judges (all currently working in risk management areas) shared their experiences and gave insights about the industry. After a quick Q&A session, the CEO of PRMIA announced the finalists – we made it to the final round!

For the finals, us and McGill University (the qualified team from the other group) presented to the judging panel. After a long break, McGill was announced as the 2019 winners and we were runner-up overall.

What Did We Learn?

Throughout our journey, we not only learned many aspects of risk management but also developed soft skills such as project management, communications, and presentation skills. We were honoured to represent SFU Beedie in this case competition that attracted 85 teams from around the world.

We are grateful to have such brilliant minds as competitors in the case competition where we grew together. Moreover, we want to thank all the SFU Beedie students who supported us since the initiation of the case competition.

Finally, we would like to thank our mentor, Fernand Wong, for his valuable guidance, support, and inspiration. Without him, we could not have achieved this success.

Tunç Utku is an SFU Beedie MSc Finance candidate and participant in the Student Investment Advisory Service (SIAS) where he currently holds the role of Quantitative Analyst in the fixed income team. You can connect with him on LinkedIn