Dec 18, 2018

Tuck Takes Third at 2018 National Energy Finance Challenge

By Matt Weems T’20

What do a French coal trader, a Canadian civil engineer, a Singaporean oil trader, an American chemical engineer, and an Argentinian solar power adviser have in common?

They all recently took third place at the 2018 National Energy Finance Challenge at UT Austin. The team of five T’20s, Team Frackin’ Amazing, returned from Austin ready to take the energy industry by storm with new knowledge, new connections, and a $3,000 novelty-sized check.

The case competition centered around Rio Grande Resources (RGR), a hypothetical integrated oil and gas company with upstream assets in the Permian, DJ, and Gulf of Mexico; downstream assets in Louisiana, Utah, and Denver; and retail stations from Mississippi to Utah. RGR was evaluating upstream, midstream, and downstream opportunities to enter Mexico’s newly-opened oil and gas industry.

As a team of first-year students without much experience in upstream oil and gas or finance, there was definitely some head-scratching going on. But fueled by some pre-Halloween candy, we quickly dove into the case, assigned roles, and started our work.

Junyang, Ilexa, and Manuel tackled the mid and downstream portions and made quick work of evaluating the options. By Friday night, they had working models for the different mechanisms by which to enter Mexico. Meanwhile, Max and Matt were learning all about upstream oil assets (what are “producers,” really?). After spending Friday morning learning how to speak beginner’s upstream, they got to work on the models in the afternoon and night. On Saturday, both teams optimized the different cases and performed sensitivity analyses around the most predominant risks, namely price and currency volatility and geopolitical risks. On Sunday, we put together the final deck, using a template of slides and the silky smooth RGR logo you see above.

Tuck MBA Case Competition team

We left Hanover on Wednesday afternoon, Houston-bound to visit consulting and banking firms on Thursday morning (BCG, McKinsey, Simmons, and Goldman Sachs). Wednesday night, Matt shut down Pappasito’s, eating half-price Wednesday fajitas and drinking a Grand Gold Margarita. Altogether, our team came away with a great impression of the Houston offices for these firms and the amazing people.

Thursday afternoon, we left for Austin in the truck that Ilexa was forced to rent because the rental car company had “run out of cars.” On the way, they stopped at another renowned Texas establishment, Buc-ee’s, to grab some world-famous beef jerky.

Thursday night, we networked with some of the other teams and the judges at the UT football stadium. Also, Matt learned that “ExxonMobil business casual” (khakis, button down) isn’t the same as “finance business casual” (suit without the tie).

Finally, the big day came, and we rolled into McCombs looking fresh-to-death. The teams were put into groups of three and the top team from each group would advance to the final round. Frackin’ Amazing would be the last group to present (blessing or a curse?). That gave us some time to practice, work on some accounting homework, and dance (in that order). While we were confident about our first-round presentation, we were still surprised when the judges announced we would move on to the final round. In the final round, the judges threw a wrench into the case by giving each team an hour to re-evaluate their recommendations. The judges were significantly tougher in the final round, but Team Frackin’ Amazing survived and placed third—no small achievement.

To celebrate on Friday night, Frackin’ Amazing went out for margs and tacos at Torchy’s and then met up with some other folks from the competition on Sixth Street. On Saturday, we proudly carried the novelty-size check through airport security, at one point getting asked by a young child “Why is your check so big?” Because we’re winners.

A special thanks to April Salas, Madeleine Bothe, Angel Sevilla, Constantine Triantafyllides, and Owen Jones! Without them, this amazing opportunity would not have been possible.