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BW business students on a roll with ACG Cup win and $1 million in returns

The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup win comes against talented, big-school competition. Meanwhile, BW Investment Club students not only grew their piece of BW's endowment to record heights but also shared their insights on a German radio network.

BW's 2024 winning ACG Cup team and mentors (front row, left to right) Jackson Mercuri '24; Jace McNulty '25; Ryan Rivera '23, MBA '24; Emily Muench '23, MBA '24; Alexis M. Becker, MBA '18, VP, Carleton McKenna and ACG Cup mentor; Dr. Susan Kuznik, dean, Carmel Boyer School of Business; (back row, left to right) Dr. Christian Nsiah, team faculty advisor and chair, BW finance, analytics and economics; Adam Cotte '24; and Scott Monaco, MBA '10, ACG Cup mentor and BW MBA Association President.

After finishing as impressive runners-up last year, 2024 was a winning year for Baldwin Wallace University at the Association for Corporate Growth ACG Cup® Cleveland.

A team from the BW Carmel Boyer School of Business claimed first place in the rigorous investment banking case study competition, annually organized by the Cleveland chapter of the ACG. The contest, held Jan. 19, was judged by investment bankers and wealth management, private equity and accounting experts.

The winning team of Adam Cotte '24; Jace McNulty '25; Jackson Mercuri '24; Ryan Rivera '23, MBA '24; and Emily Muench '23, MBA '24, earned an invitation to ACG's signature Northeast Ohio Deal Makers Ball, billed as "one of the best networking events of the year" for the region's financiers.

'Experience like no other'

Ryan Rivera '23, MBA '24, rises to kick off his team's winning ACG Cup presentation before the judges.

"The ACG Cup provides an experience like no other, offering the closest opportunity students can get to a real-world experience in mergers and acquisitions," said Rivera. "I am so proud of the hard work, strategy and perseverance our team demonstrated to earn first place out of 13 teams from top schools."

Rivera had competed before; others on the team had not.

"Prior to the ACG Cup, I had no investment banking experience," said Muench, who majored in digital marketing as an undergraduate and is focusing on business analytics in her MBA program. "The adaptable skill set I received in my undergraduate and graduate courses gave me the knowledge and confidence to excel in this competition."

McNulty added that he forged valuable connections that should give him a leg up in his future job search. "I've learned so much from this experience, including invaluable insights into mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, private equity and financial advisory."

Million dollar achievement

The ACG win comes on the heels of a banner year for students involved in the BW Investment Club, which manages a designated piece of BW's endowment.

For the first time ever, the club's asset allocation strategies pushed the fund over the $1 million mark in December. The portfolio of stocks has had its ups and downs; for comparison, the fund was valued at $160,000 back in 2006 and $640,000 by late 2020.

German radio interview

BW student Investment Club officers and their faculty advisor gather for a Zoom interview with a German network radio reporter.

The achievement was so impressive that WDR Radio (part of the ARD German public broadcasting equivalent of the BBC) sought the insights of club officers. That included an interview with subsequent ACG Cup winners Rivera and McNulty, along with Jace McNulty's older brother Dane McNulty '24, for a year-end report on the American stock market from the perspective of young investors.

On the WDR business podcast replay, you'll hear the finance majors introduced in the piece at about the 15:45 mark, with German translations coming in shortly after they start speaking.

The students explain how the "AI craze" of 2023 fueled the explosive growth in value of one of their most successful stock picks. "We took a very heavy position in AI chipmaker Nvidia," the older McNulty said. "The stock skyrocketed 239% in 2023."

Picking winners

Nvidia, The Motley Fool reported, "emerged as the clear leader in artificial intelligence (AI) chips" in 2023. So, how did these young investors know to grab the hottest stock of the year?

"All of our buy, hold and sell decisions are made by voting members of the club," said Rivera. "Members, who can join regardless of academic major, research and present a stock pitch, which includes a deep company and industry analysis using the same Bloomberg Terminals that are utilized by Wall Street in BW's state-of-the-art Bloomberg Business Research Center."

Club advisor and finance chair Dr. Christian Nsiah vets the stock presentations for accuracy but leaves the final decisions to the students.

Real-world ready

For all students involved, applied learning, like the Investment Club, ACG Cup competition and 2023 trip to Wall Street, has prepared them well for life after college.

"The ACG cup helped me finally understand the true meaning behind the word teamwork," said Mercuri. "I had the chance to learn how to integrate my strengths and weaknesses with others' strengths and weaknesses, and even got to argue with some of my best friends on things that really mattered."

"I recently accepted a role as an analyst at EdgePoint, an investment banking firm in Cleveland," Dane McNulty noted, well in advance of his May graduation. "My experience at Baldwin Wallace in the classroom and Investment Club has shaped me in more ways than I could have hoped for. I look forward to representing Baldwin Wallace throughout my career."

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