SMU Cox MBAs place 3rd in Energy Innovation Case Competition

by SMU Cox|

February 12, 2020 – Four Cox MBAs competed and placed 3rd in the inaugural TCU Energy Case Competition at the NAPE Conference in Houston.

The inaugural NAPE/TCU Energy Innovation Case Competition brought together MBA students from top universities, including SMU’s Cox School of Business, to put their analytical skills and energy expertise to the test. Representing the Cox School were  Mark Avioli and Travis Little, both FTMBA ’20, and Emily Mallon and Morgan Mitchell, both FTMBA ’21. They analyzed the implications of the wide performance of U.S. E&P equities in 2019 and created innovative real-world solutions.

“The case posed a question about innovation in the industry,” said Avioli. “What should US tight oil players do if prices appreciate considerably in 2020 and 2021? Should they stick to their messaging of returning all available cash flow to investors and lenders? Ought they instead invest more in their core upstream business and drill more wells? Should their debt retirement schedule differ? How should their strategy change? Should it even include M&A if there is arbitrage value to be captured?”

MBA teams from 11 universities had five hours to work on the case before presenting their oil and gas knowledge to a panel of judges made up of leaders from industry and academia.

SMU’s resolution concentrated on three key tenants – operating with a purpose, redefining corporate governance, and regaining investor sentiment – with different solutions based off prevailing commodity prices. Placing third, SMU Cox earned $5,000 in prize money.

Participating universities are:

Rice University — Jones Graduate School of Business
Southern Methodist University — Cox School of Business
Texas Christian University — Neeley School of Business
Tulane University — Freeman School of Business
University of Colorado — Leeds School of Business
University of Denver — Daniels College of Business
University of Houston — Bauer College of Business
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill — Kenan-Flagler Business School
University of Oklahoma — Price College of Business
University of Texas at Austin — McCombs School of Business
University of Texas at Dallas — Naveen Jindal School of Management

Founded by NAPE and the TCU Neeley School of Business, and sponsored by the AAPL Educational Foundation, the competition took place Tuesday, February 4, 2020, during the NAPE Summit in Houston, Texas.


NAPE — the oil and gas industry’s marketplace for the buying, selling and trading of prospects and producing properties — brings oil and gas professionals together to meet, network, connect and do business. NAPE offers two expos annually in Houston — NAPE Summit in February and Summer NAPE in August — bringing together prospects and all the key players needed to evaluate, facilitate and execute deals. The internationally recognized NAPE was established in 1993 by the American Association of Professional Landmen and also includes IPAA, SEG and AAPG as partners. For more information on NAPE, please visit and follow NAPE on Twitter at @NAPE_EXPO.

Left to Right: Emily Mallon FTMBA ‘21, Mark Avioli FTMBA ‘20, Sean Marshall, VP of Land for Centennial Resource Development/Case Competition Judge, Morgan Mitchell FTMBA ‘21 and Travis Little FTMBA '20