From September 27-28, 2007, the HBS Energy Club student team, made up of PJ Deschenes (OG), Tiffany Chang (OD), Cedric Lucas (OB), Sharad Goenka (OE) and Warren Hogarth (OG), took on 15 other business school teams in the 3rd annual National Energy Finance Competition at the University of Texas, McCombs School of Business in Austin, Texas.
The HBS team, who presented a bold and strategic plan that held up to a barrage of questions from the judges, took home the second place prize after a strong performance beating out the likes of Chicago, Kellogg and NYU Stern.
Contestants had to provide a two part presentation based on the case: a tactical, financial analysis to optimize existing operations, and a long-term strategic plan for the company in the region. To make things more complicated, the case, which featured a fictitious multinational oil company with oil refining operations in three Southeast Asian countries, had its own BGIE-type challenges from nationalization and dictators to corruption and health problems.
The team received the case at 5pm on Tuesday, Sept 26th and bunkered down in Spangler to unleash their creative thoughts. Tiffany, Cedric and Sharad took on the financial and tactical analysis section of the case and managed to produce what one of the judges described as “the best financial analysis” among all of the teams. Meanwhile, PJ and Warren set about developing 30-year forecasts of the major trends in the industry and a detailed strategic plan.
After spending a combined 100-man hours on the case, the “Proved Reserves” HBS team headed down to Texas to size up the competition. The team prepared itself for an interesting day of judging after making a conscious decision to challenge the status quo and to recommend a bold action plan. While a traditional answer would have been to recommend the requisite securing of oil supply and expanding refining capacity, PJ and Warren proposed an aggressive agenda which turned corporate leadership on social and environmental issues into a competitive advantage.
While some of the judges indicated that they were in favor of the team’s “more creative” approach to the problem, in the end it was not enough to defeat the proposal put forward by the Yale School of Management.
All in all, the team had a thoroughly challenging and enjoyable trip in which they experienced some famous Texan hospitality and thought-provoking discussions on energy finance. They would like to thank the McCombs organizers, sponsors, HBS Energy Club and Faculty Sponsor Prof Reinhardt.