European Private Equity Competition – So close

The below post is an extract from my personal blog. Please visit for more insight on my MBA experience.


Second Place. Again.

The Manchester MBA’s team have just returned from the Rotterdam School of Management’s European Private Equity Competition and, as seems to be the recurring theme in my MBA, finished second to the hosts by one judge’s vote at the final stage. Again, the feeling of “what might have been” is gnawing at my insides but is mollified somewhat by the knowledge that multiple finishes in the Champions League positions is at least a sign of consistent performance. Even the great Matt Busby had to finish second four times before winning his first league title at Manchester United.

The RSM competition simulates the thought process of a Private Equity firm but in a fraction of the time that they have. On the Monday of the week we were given a brief detailing a company that the Private Equity house were considering. We then had 48 hours to rip through the numbers and strategy to decide whether the PE house should buy the company, what they should do with it, how much they should pay for it, who they could sell it onto and how much money they could make. This had to be distilled into a two page document and a short slide deck that was presented to the professional judges on the Saturday in Amsterdam.

RSM MBA Competition
In Action during the Final Round

The preparation process was certainly intense. An M&A in (almost) a day if you will. Our brief was for a deal in 2004 so we had to put ourselves in pre-financial crisis mode when banks were making crazy loans for leverage buyouts. The difficulty was keeping our heads in that year and not putting our knowledge of what happened during the crash into our solution.

Finals day began with the teams being split into three groups and presenting in front of a small panel of judges. Following victory in our group stage we progressed to the final where all three teams were simultaneously grilled by the full eleven man jury. Our interrogation went well and we successfully batted away the probing questions that came our way. Off the back of this we were pretty hopeful going into the announcement but it didn’t quite go our way. Rotterdam had also made a solid case and the judges went for them by a majority of one.

Still, we could take consolation in finishing as the top UK team in the competition and the

RSM Second Placebeers in central Amsterdam that evening dulled a little of the disappointment. It’s unlikely that I’ll participate any more competitions during the remainder of my MBA but, following the multiple second places (with our victory in SVCIC being the honourable exception) you can be sure that I’d rather crash and burn spectacularly in the preliminary rounds than miss out by a whisker again.


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Welcome to Class 2015

26 August, 2013 1 comment

Having reviewed all of their applications I do feel that I know many of Class 2015 already and indeed I have already met members of Class 2015 at selection events over the last 12 months.  However, I am looking forward to meeting all of Class 2015 face to face tomorrow morning.

As always we have made some changes to the curriculum this year.  By popular demand Francis Chittenden and Malcolm Smith’s Negotiations classes have been moved to a separate course starting in January 2014.  This will mean that all of Class 2015 will have the challenge of competing in the European Business Plan of the Year competition.  Bruce Tether’s innovation classes are to become part of the UK Consultancy Project and Rudolf Sinkovics’ International Business classes will be delivered as part of the International Business Project.

However, for the next 4 weeks Class 2015 will be engaged in the MBA Induction programme. The MBA Induction allows the class to get to know each other, the MBS MBA team and the great city that is Manchester. To encourage the class to explore the city it has become something of a tradition that I issue a challenge – The Director’s Challenge.  So, I want to know who this is a statue of, what has made the individual depicted in the stature so ‘excited’ and where it resides.

Statue Image

Hopefully someone from Class 2015 will email me with the answer within the next 36 hours.  There will be a small prize for the winner who I will announce at the Drinks Reception at 5.30pm tomorrow evening.

best wishes Professor Elaine Ferneley

MBA Director

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Diploma stage done

The below post is an extract from my personal blog. Please visit for more insight on my MBA experience.


After ten months of case study reading, essay writing, mock merger negotiating and project researching, the diploma stage of the Manchester MBA is finally over. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was sat in a lecture theatre with my new colleagues being told what hard work it was all going to be. Now, with the final term’s M&A and UK Consultancy projects finished, we move onto the Summer and, for me, an eleven week internship at Google.

Given that it is the end of a key stage in my MBA journey, it is now incumbent on me to give you the run-down on the highlights of my first year. So, in reverse order, here are the top 5:

5. Financial Accounting – “What?” I hear you exclaim, “A load of middle aged men in grey suits querying expense claims?”. A year ago I’d have said something along those lines as well. However, it has been an immutable rule on the MBA that the courses I’ve looked forward to least I’ve enjoyed the most, probably because I feel I’m actually learning something new. This was certainly the case with Financial Accounting. The professor was a bundle of gangly-limbed energy, imparting the reasons why accounting regulations should actually matter to us in his own eccentric style.

4. New Friends – A bit obvious and sycophantic I know, but one of the great pleasures of the course has been an environment with no hierarchy, no preconceptions, no politics, just an opportunity to bond with colleagues in the white heat of MBA pressure. People from the other side of the world have become good friends in little to no time and the real joy is that I know that I’ll probably be in contact with them for the rest of my life.

3. Brathay – A rainy few days in the Lake District may not seem like the ideal bonding environment but it was certainly the moment that we moved from being a group of individuals to building the foundations of the Class of 2014. As I said at the time, if you could bottle the feelings of optimism and excitement that we experienced in the marquee on our final day you’d be a rich (wo)man.

1(=). SVCIC – A tough choice and in the end I couldn’t decide between my top two. The trip out to UNC and the buzz of victory is difficult to beat. From the challenge of getting ourselves invited and funded through to the blur of competition it is an achievement I’ll always be able to look back on with pride. How many people can legitimately call themselves a world champion?

1(=). MBAT – Not so much an educational experience but certainly the most fun I’ve had on the course. A chance to compete shoulder to shoulder with your Manchester colleagues against the cream of European business schools and if you’re lucky take home a trophy or two. Also, the opportunity to really speak to fellow MBA’s from other b-schools (and find out that everyone else has the same whinges about their own program!). A riot of sport, socialising and alcohol.

With the constraints of a busy internship I’m not sure how often I’ll get to post before I get back to Manchester. I’ll also be restricted in what I can say about my job due to confidentiality. I may re-start my Chip Shop Economics series of essays to fill the gap but can’t guarantee it. So, if I don’t post in the meantime have a great Summer and see you in the Autumn.

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Healthcare Business Case Competition at Warwick Business School

19 July, 2013 1 comment

Warwick Business School organised a first-of-its-kind Business case competition in May 2013, focused solely on the Healthcare sector. The competition was sponsored by IMS Health, a leading provider of information, services and technology for the Healthcare industry and the expert panel of judges included Senior Management of IMS Health UK and several other industry experts.

The business cases were handed over one week prior to the competition. Acting as Business Consultants to a Global Pharmaceutical firm, the business case revolved around the issue of ‘Patient non-adherence’, a serious global problem causing thousands of premature deaths and demanding care that would otherwise have been unnecessary. According to the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, every day, 342 people die because of poor medication adherence or in simple terms, not taking their medications as directed by their physician and pharmacist.

The teams were supposed to advise on why focusing on this particular issue would represent a worthwhile investment for the company (mentioned in the business case) and what the company would need to consider addressing the issue appropriately – both from a patient perspective and in terms of commercial strategy. In the final round, the teams presented their final recommendations to the Senior Management of the company.

My team stood 2nd in this competition, thus it was quite disheartening indeed! Nevertheless, it was a great learning experience and a good opportunity to network with Senior personnel of IMS Health.  

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EBPYC 2013 @ ALBA Graduate Business School, Athens, Greece

Last week our MBS team consisting of Kelly, Bernardo, Niyati and John travelled from Manchester airport to Athens, Greece on a flight operated by Easyjet which is of course the brainchild of famous Athens-born entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

And what a fitting way to begin our campaign of high-flying entrepreneurship at the European Business Plan of the Year Competition ( to pitch our business proposal alongside other top European business schools to international venture capitalists and esteemed judges.

The 2013 EBPY competition hosted by ALBA Graduate Business School at The American College of Greece was a fantastic opportunity to proudly represent MBS and present our business plan in 20 minutes plus 10 minutes Q&A. The audience and judges congratulated us on our business plan, our performance and the way we fought to bring a comprehensively legal, innovative cash management solution for specific medical marijuana dispensaries in the U.S.A.

Although we did not pass to the final round, after a special feedback session with the judges, we won many plaudits from the excellent ALBA business school staff, judges and fellow competitors.  

The final rounds involving a further presentation with a 15 minute Q&A was eventually won by WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management from Germany for their electronic parking plan “evo-park”, followed by London Business School, who pitched a re-heated gourmet pizza chain and EM Lyon Business School, providing synchronised light bulbs for the home in third place.

However, the EBPY competition was not all work and no play! After the tremendous adventure of preparing and presenting our plan, we had great fun in Athens as all the teams socialised over dinner and drinks looking over the famous Acropolis which we later visited to enrich our cultural experience of the home of Democracy and Western philosophy.  

As we arrive back into Manchester on Stelios’ airline, we are full of inspiration as the EBPY organisers are looking forward to another promising plan from MBS in 2014!
We would like to say a big “σας ευχαριστώ/”efharistó̱” (Thank you) to all our classmates, faculty, mentors and advisors who supported and encouraged us to get our business plan off the ground! 

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SVCIC – a potential opportunity for budding professionals and entrepreneurs in sustainability


The number of people working in corporate sustainability has expanded significantly over the past decade. Many organisations now employ large, diverse teams that are dedicated to delivering practical business solutions in a sustainable way — from responding to resource depletion and supply chain sustainability to driving consumer behaviour change and realising energy efficiency savings.

As the number and diversity of roles primarily focused on addressing organisational sustainability have increased, so too have the number of people entering the profession from other fields. Industry data reveals that around one-third of sustainability and cleantech professionals have prior work experience in unrelated sectors. Professionals from marketing, engineering, IT and manufacturing are all joining sustainability teams and bringing with them a range of different business skills.

On this note, I would say that the Sustainable Venture Capital Investment Competition (SVCIC) offers a promising opportunity for prospective MBA students and budding entrepreneurs who are interested in pursuing a career in sustainability. The competition also provides access to a network of sustainability-minded entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Participating teams act as associates at a venture capital (VC) fund. Their task is to review a number of business plans and select one to invest in. This involves conducting due diligence, interviewing the entrepreneurs, and performing valuations that consider the profitability, viability, sustainability and social impact of each business plan. Following this, the teams are required to give a brief presentation to a panel of judges, who are acting as partners at your VC fund, to convince them that your investment hypothesis is sound while clearly highlighting the social or environmental impact of the selected business plan. 

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Dodge, Duck, Dip,Dive and Dodge at MBAT 2013

The below article is an abridged version of one from my personal blog. For more of my personal take on the Manchester MBA please visit


I write this one week on from the most exciting, social and fun experience of the Manchester MBA so far. No it wasn’t another stimulating piece of academia or even internship related shenanigans. It was instead the annual MBA Tournament (MBAT) held at HEC Paris.

The MBAT is a sporting tournament held every year held in the countryside outside the French capital. Teams from the top business schools in Europe and further afield compete in events varying from touch rugby to billiards to poker to karting mixed with the inevitable evening drinking sessions – it is an MBA event after all!

The action starts on the first day when all the teams, having travelled by planes, trains and converted London buses, converge on campus at the same time sporting their team’s distinctive liveries. For Game of Thrones aficionados it is reminiscent of the banners gathering for war. The bright oranges of Rotterdam merge with the greens of Insead, the whites of IE, the purples of Manchester (yes really, if you come to the school you’d better get used to that colour) and the various hues of blue that represent Oxford, Cambridge, LBS and HEC.

First event up for me was the poker and the biggest personal disappointment of the weekend. Having got off to a blistering start I made the final two on my table with 2/3rds of the chips under my control. Unfortunately my inexperience caused me to reign in my aggression and my opponent was able to turn things round to make the final. Lesson learned.

Day two began with an early, hungover, start and the group stage of the football against Cambridge. My role was mainly to offer encouragement from the sidelines and provide another pair of eyes for the captain. I did, however, get a run out for ten minutes at the end of a 4-0 victory which was great until a couple of kicks reminded me I’m not so young anymore.

Next up, after a spell watching MBS’s touch rugby and womens’ football teams in action, was the cricket, with 90% of the players on all teams seemingly from either India or Pakistan. We played Insead and while I enjoyed the experience I didn’t see much action as our top four batsmen racked up a record score before we saw the game out by catching the bulk of their team on the boundary.

Following this, though, was the highlight of the weekend. Dodgeball, for which I was team captain. For those who are not aware, this sport involves hurling rubberised balls at the opposing team and diving around trying to avoid blows to painful parts of the anatomy. It was a tale of a rag-tag team coming together on the day to steal the prize from under the nose of the big boys. An underdog story if you will…

(Cue 80’s style tournament montage complete with inspiring ballad)

A straightforward win against Rotterdam in the preliminaries….A new player spotted with a golden arm and picked off the sidelines for the quarter final against the LBS….A disastrous start, falling 5-2 down….Despair on the sidelines….A spectacular high risk catch starting the comeback…Back from the dead with a narrow victory….The semi’s against the light blues of Cambridge….Back and forth before MBS claim victory….The final against the catsuit wearing Oxford….A mouthed “you’ll lose” from the opposing captain, wearing his favourite stars and stripes underwear, at the handshake….Another poor start, men down early….The star player picked on and picked off….3-1 down and almost out….A fingertip catch from Chirag pulling a man back for us….Another match winning catching chance narrowly fumbled….Down to a sudden death one on one….Jason verses Captain America….An exchange of fire for what seems an eternity….Balls whistling by, missing flesh by millimetres….The clock ticking down….Oxford will win on countback if there is no outright victor….The final minute….A ball is thrown….It’s at throat height….Jason takes the catch….The crowd explode….Jubilation….Pitch invasion….The most intensive display of man-love this side of Brokeback Mountain….MBS take the trophy.

MBAT Dodgeball

Purple Power!
2013 MBAT Dodgeball Champions
Hello to Kelly’s mum!

Sadly this, aside from the celebratory drinks, was it for me at MBAT. I had to return to the UK a day early for a friend’s wedding so I missed the fun and games of the final day. MBS performed respectably with good performances from the football, cricket, table tennis and babyfoot teams but sadly no additional trophies to take home. An overall position of fifth in the medals table was ours.

So will the MBAT experience enhance my CV, my personal network and give me valuable new skills to take into my post MBA career? Well, probably not, but it was a heck of a good time and I wouldn’t have missed it for all the distinction grades in the world.

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