More than 60 students competed in the first-ever Wells Fargo Finance Case Competition at Mays in late April, putting their skills to the test on a real-world finance problem that Wells Fargo bankers once faced.

The competition was a joint academic-industry effort. Finance professor John Groth and Department of Finance Advisory Board member Frank Schageman, senior vice president and leader of Wells Fargo’s Houston commercial banking group, worked together to develop and organize the competition.

Case materials were drafted by a Wells Fargo team led by Schageman. In the case, an industrial wholesaler is faced with losing its largest retail customer to an acquisition by a competitor. Students were asked to scrutinize the financials to value the retailer and decide if the wholesaler should be willing to acquire their biggest customer as well as determine how they would finance the acquisition.

“Real business is a set of case studies strung together throughout your career,” Wells Fargo’s Schageman says. “We’re involving students in what we do, and seeing A&M’s top financial talent at the same time.”

The winning team of students earned $3,000. They were first-year MBA students Luke Friesen, Chase Paxton, Ralph Schickel and David Brodniak. The second-place team, finance graduate students Craig D’Andrea, Ben Goodyear, Paul Mason and Jennifer Hess, split $1,000, while the third place team of finance graduate students Robert Rohlfs, Jean-Pierre Breaux and Jeff Baker received a plaque.

Prize money and/or judging talent were provided by lead sponsor Wells Fargo and co-sponsors Clear Channel Communications and Accenture. Department of Finance Advisory Board members Julie Hill of Clear Channel and Steve Schwarzbach of Accenture coordinated the participation of their firms. Two teams of judges consisting of industry professionals and Mays faculty members evaluated students on the content and style of each presentation.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase the sophistication of our students by exposing them to real-world problems,” says David Blackwell, finance department head. “This case was developed by industry professionals from a situation that they actually faced in the corporate world.”

Showcasing Mays’ top students to industry judges from Wells Fargo and Accenture and giving them the opportunity to mingle during the awards dinner also gave students, in what Blackwell hopes will become an annual event, networking and exposure opportunities. “We’re providing students with a great educational opportunity,” he says, “and planting the seeds for future job placements at top companies.”