Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2014

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Inside the Classroom Finance Students Set Sail for Real-World Experience Katalin Bolliger’s first trip outside of the United States was just the experience she wanted—eight thousand miles away from campus and surrounded by tigers and elephants. But despite the new locale, she felt at home while meeting with CFOs to value corporations during the spring 2014 International Investment Internship. “Visiting companies and asking questions was just the next step from what we did every day in the Tanner Building,” says Bolliger, a June 2014 finance graduate. One of the first of its kind in the nation, the four-week internship took sixteen students to Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Thailand and introduced them to the research that goes into investing in Asia. Finance professor Bryan Sudweeks and adjunct faculty member Jim Seaberg organized the trip because this type of research is invaluable to investors, who often see only one side of the companies they are interested in. “Seeing things on the ground makes all the difference in the world because you’re getting tangible, primary research about an investment opportunity,” says Seaberg, who owns an investment firm. “You need to see that environment to know whether making the investment will be a good decision.” Before packing their bags, students got experience managing an investment fund with a $1.2 million portfolio in Finance 415. They also received a list of Asian companies to research from four Utah-based asset management companies. The students then split into teams to scour industry and annual reports for background information on each company. Once overseas, teams began their primary research by asking each company’s management about earnings, margins, competitors, products, and anything else that needed clarification. As they talked with employees and saw production lines in action, they noted any discrepancies between publicly available materials and what they saw on-site. “The most beneficial part of the trip for students was the chance to interact with management,” Sudweeks says. “This is real-world stuff; it’s not just reading out of a book.” After jetting home, teams reported their findings to the Utah firms. Kurt Brown, principal and partner at Alta Capital in Salt Lake City, says the presentations will help investors make informed decisions. “We were genuinely impressed with the depth of information, the quality of the research they had done, and the insights they had on the companies they researched,” Brown says. “Their work is definitely on par with what a professional organization in our industry would do.” For the students, Bolliger says, the study abroad continues to pay dividends. “We got to work hard, gain experience, and hold the tail of a tiger,” she says. “It was exactly what I was looking for in an international experience.” —–Angela Marler During the International Investment Internship, sixteen finance students traveled around Asia to gather data for Utah-based firms.

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