We interviewed International Master in Finance students Ahmed Elmenoufy and Felicia Miller to find out what it was like to be part of the winning team that took second place at the Spanish final of the CFA Research Challenge Spanish 2020 in Madrid. On February 20, it was announced that their team –one of two teams that EADA sent to the competition– had been selected to continue on to the CFA Research Challenge Spanish final. At the final, 5 teams compete against other top business schools and universities from around the world to defend their research report on this year’s featured company, Repsol, a leader in the energy sector.
A little about Ahmed
Ahmed holds a Bachelor in Construction Engineering from the American University of Cairo in his home country of Egypt. Before coming to EADA, he had already launched his own fitness company, which today is the third largest of its kind in Cairo. He hoped to use the knowledge and skills from the International Master in Finance to launch a new business in the future.
A little about Felicia
Felicia is from Uruguay, where she completed her Bachelor in Business Administration before interning at Banco Santander. She spent a semester abroad in Europe during her undergraduate studies, and she came to EADA in preparation for her future career path as a financial advisor.
What was the most challenging part of the CFA Research Challenge?
Ahmed: The most challenging part was applying what we were learning simultaneously in class to the real life valuation that we were performing for the CFA. Evaluating Repsol was not a walk in the park – its presence all over the world made it challenging to evaluate its consolidated financial statements, especially taking into account recent regulatory changes.
Felicia: The biggest challenge was balancing the workload of the CFA and the projects and presentations required for class. As for the report, I found Repsol especially challenging – we we had to first understand the specifics of the oil industry before starting the forecasting process.
What was the most rewarding part?
Ahmed: The most rewarding part will always remain vivid in my memory: the final read-through of our valuation. Sitting together as a group, looking at the fruit of our long nights and constructive arguments, our group members smiled at each other. That smile showed how proud we were of our work – with the completion of that report, we were 5 steps closer to becoming professional analysts.
Felicia: For me, the most rewarding moment was towards the end, when the deadline was approaching and everything we had worked for started to fall into place – we were finally able to make sense of the broader picture. I felt especially satisfied in one of our meetings when our tutor congratulated us for the quality of the work we had done and reassured us that this was “as real as it gets”.
What is your most valuable takeaway from the Challenge?
Ahmed: The most valuable thing I have learnt is the strength and power of team chemistry. We had so much to do in terms of classwork on top of the CFA preparation, but my team took the load off my shoulders, and helped me concentrate on the job at hand. We understood each other’s strengths and weaknesses – this can either break the team, or, like in our case, bring out the best in us.
Felicia: For me, the biggest lesson has been the experience of working in a very talented, deeply committed team. We had to take the initiative and go beyond the simple CFA guidelines to build our own schedule and deliver a professional valuation report. With massive amounts of information to analyse and different report sections to cover, we had to split up tasks, so having a team that you could rely on was fundamental. Feeling supported among ourselves was key to enduring this challenge as a team!
What do you think was the secret to your success?
Ahmed: Or success was based on 4 factors: First, our brilliant tutor Joan Tarradellas, who invested his time to get us prepared. Then, my tremendous team that started out as my teammates and evolved into my family. Next, EADA, for making this once-in-a-lifetime experience possible. And last but not least, the faculty that offered their help whenever we needed it without hesitation.
Felicia: The team, of course! Since the presentation in was to be delivered on a Monday at the Stock Exchange, we decided to spend the weekend together in Madrid. The idea was to help us focus and also have fun and enjoy the experience. Being able to work with people I consider my friends –not just classmates– makes all the difference. Having each other’s support made our presentation to be bulletproof.
Would you recommend participating to future students? Why or why not?
Ahmed: If you want to know what you are really made out of, emotionally, intellectually and –some nights– physically, then you should participate in the CFA Research Challenge. Don’t miss out on the chance to witness the combination of theory and its real life application.
Felicia: Yes! Even though, the truth is that you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you’re deep into financial statements and Eikon terminology, it is definitely worth it. Although at times it can be exhausting, I have no doubt that the best way to learn is by doing. For me it has been a game changing experience that I will never forget and certainly never regret.