The Butler MBA team won the 2017 ACG Cup.

A tech company has three divisions—one that’s a cash cow, one that’s small and not terribly important, and one that is the company’s future but hasn’t achieved any cash flow, never mind profitability. Now that third division has run out of cash and the banks are calling in their lines of credit.

What should the company do?

That’s the kind of issue professionals in the mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory, and private equity world deal with regularly. And it was the question put to teams of MBA students from Butler, Ball State, IU Kelley-Indianapolis, IU Kelley-Bloomington, and Purdue universities at the seventh annual Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup competition.

In the end, the Butler team—David Watkins, Michael Doenges, Jason Fried, and Katie Alexander—won the Indiana competition. (See their presentation here.)

“Being able to win a competition like this demonstrates that you need a solid understanding of basic financial principles, good business savvy, critical thinking, executive presence, and strong presentation and communication skills—all the things we teach in the Butler MBA program,” said Marietta Stalcup, Director of the MBA Program in Butler’s Lacy School of Business.

The ACG Cup competition is a nationwide investment banking mergers-and-acquisitions case competition intended for graduate business students. And although the competition is nationwide, it’s organized on a chapter-by-chapter basis, with about 15-18 taking place each year.

The teams were given the case study at 12:01 AM on a Saturday and had a week to prepare their answer. On the following Saturday, they presented their recommendations to a panel of industry professionals who judged them not only on their strategic analysis but on how they presented the information and handled questions that arose.

In an interview after the competition, Butler team member David Watkins said getting a case that had to be analyzed in a week and presented in 20 minutes was a great challenge. Team member Katie Alexander credited the team with being strategic and united in its approach.

“We spent a lot of time throughout the week putting that together, figuring out how we were going to do what we were going to do, and the questions we thought we might get asked,” Watkins said. “And it was a team effort.”

“The competition in general was fantastic,” team member Mike Doenges added. “It was a really good way for us to learn some of these financial models, especially since none of us really have a background in that. We really cut our teeth trying to figure out how to do these models, understand them, and now I think we know it like the back of our hand.”

“We’re not finance people,” team member Jason Fried said. “We may have some finance majors, but we don’t do finance as an everyday job. We’re in school working full time—we’re busy 60 hours a week—and we still found a way to put this together. It’s a lot of time and effort. A grind. We’re tired, but we’re excited.”

As for the team’s recommendation on what the tech company should do about its issue, the Butler group recommended refinancing the debt and staying the course until the third division starts making money.

Meet the Team:

Michael Doenges

Current position/employer: Project Manager at Bowen Engineering

MBA concentration: Finance

What I’m learning at Butler that is helping my career: The program has given me new insight into developing and implementing business strategy and analyzing new opportunities. The MBA program at Butler has provided diverse experiences that I’ve been able to immediately employ in my career.

Jason Fried

Current position/employer: Project Coordinator/Walker Information

MBA concentration: Finance

What I’m learning at Butler that is helping my career: Butler has helped me grow to become more successful in leadership, finance, accounting, entrepreneurship, and giving presentations. Marietta Stalcup and several of the Butler professors have helped me learn what I truly want out of a career and have helped springboard my journey to achieve the goals I set out for myself. I’m hoping the connections and resources I have picked up through Butler’s MBA program will help push me to the next level in my career.

David Watkins

Current position/employer: Assistant Director of International Admissions, IUPUI

MBA concentration: Finance and Entrepreneurship

What I’m learning at Butler that is helping my career: Figuring out my “why.” Yes, I am learning many of the hard skills needed to be successful in business, finance, accounting, etc. but I think more importantly, I am constantly being pushed to figure what I want to be doing, why I want to do it, and how to go about reaching that goal. Between my executive leadership coach, Randy Brown, professors like Dr. Fetter, and the Program Director, Marietta Stalcup, I am constantly being challenged to dig a bit deeper beyond the acquiring of simple skills to nurture a passion and a purpose for my MBA from Butler University.

Katherine Hopkins Alexander

Current position/employer: Lab Manager, Axis Forensic Toxicology

Concentration: Finance

What I’m learning at Butler that is helping my career: The professors and advising staff are exceptional and focus heavily on not just learning but applying the material, which gives you direct experience so that you are more comfortable applying it in your everyday life. Additionally, Butler has immersed us in all facets of what makes you an exceptional professional. It’s not just learning each of the core subjects that makes you an effective financial leader, team manager, etc. but rather working through it with your classmates, working on it simultaneously with other subjects, applying it all at the same time so you see the full picture during your entire program.


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