MBA Energy Club Takes First Place

by SMU Cox|

A team of two second years and three first year SMU Cox MBA students representing the MBA Energy Club claimed first place and an $11,000 top prize at this year’s National Energy Finance Challenge (NEFC) hosted by the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. The Cox Energy MBA student representatives, calling themselves "Reservoir dOGS," bested their national counterparts, including Ivy League competitors and fellow Texas business school participants. This year's case competition took place virtually the week of October 19 and culminated on Friday, October 23. The Cox Reservoir dOGS team consisted of Emily Mallon and Morgan Mitchell, both MBA Class of ’21, and James Avondet, Ethan Burgh and Hayden Brown, all MBA Class of ’22. Together, they beat Michigan and Rice to advance out of the first round and topped Dartmouth, Duke and Northwestern during the final round. 


"We usually do well in this competition, but It's been four or five years since our MBA Energy Club representatives have outright won this competition," said Maguire Energy Institute Director Bruce Bullock. "Many thanks to Jason Rife, executive director of the Cox Career Management Center and Graduate Admissions, for all of his coaching assistance," Bullock added.


The NEFC, sponsored by Chevron, Lazard, and Greentech Capital, among others, affords participants the opportunity to present strategic solutions to the kinds of current-day challenges that face the energy sector and present strategic solutions. This year’s challenge focused on an energy transition theme, as a fictitious company, Libertas, was presented with the opportunity to establish a petrochemical investment, as well as several potential investments within the low-carbon realm.


The team was given three days to assess the case, conduct financial analysis and submit a presentation. Upon advancing out of the first round, an additional twist was presented, whereby the teams had to decide if a low-premium Permian Basin deal would make economic sense. The Cox team decided against moving forward with the new info, as the acquisition would be counterintuitive to the “Becoming the Sustainable Energy Major” narrative. Additionally, the underlying assumption was that this deal would be financed with a vast amount of debt which, once again, would be in stark contrast to the Reservoir dOGs stance of paying down debt to a sustainable level. 

Left to Right: MBA Energy Club members Ethan Burgh, James Avondet, Morgan Mitchell, Emily Mallon and Hayden Brown hold the winnings from their first-place win in the National Energy Finance Challenge case competition.