Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Finance/Accounting majors’ analytical efforts net Clemson national title


Chris Breemen and Emma Lee present at CIsco competition
Chris Breemen and Emma Lee present at Cisco’s case competition.

A team of College of Business finance and accounting double majors flexed their collective analytical muscles and brought home a national title to Clemson University in late October.

Emma Lee and Chris Breemen beat out 40 other collegiate teams from across the nation to place first in a technology conglomerate’s case competition in San Jose, Calif.

Cisco’s Leaders in Finance and Technology (LIFT) Case Competition was held at the company’s international headquarters. Eight teams competed in the final round with presentations on a merger and acquisition case study.

“It was a great opportunity to use what we’re learning in the classroom and through internships this past summer, to solve a business problem,” Chris said. “Emma and I have worked together a lot in class. She has great experience in financial forecasting and has outstanding quantitative strengths and I’m more qualitatively focused. We make a great team.”

The competition kicked off in September and the field was reduced to eight in October. The eight finalists were given their merger and acquisition case study to solve two weeks prior to the finals. Teams’ Excel spread sheets and PowerPoints were due Wednesday and Thursday of competition week, and presentations were made Friday.

At the finals, each team presented their plan for the merger and acquisition of two hypothetical cyber security companies. A value had to be placed on the company being acquired and competitors were required to show the process they followed in reaching that value. Each of the finalists had 15 minutes to state their case to the panel of six judges in a board of director’s-type presentation.

Students in front of Cisco sign
Winning weekend! Emma and Chris caught a red-eye flight Friday night back to the East Coast after they won the Cisco competition, and made it to Clemson in time to watch the Tigers win the homecoming football game Saturday afternoon.

Judges gave the Clemson team – “Dabo’s Dynasty” – high marks for their strong technical analysis, dedicated role play as financial analysts of the acquiring company, and advanced presentation skills.

“One of the judges complimented our evident confidence at the front of the room, which she said allowed her to feel more comfortable during our presentation,” Emma said.  “Another judge said, ‘Wow, I knew Clemson had an excellent football team, but I didn’t realize its students were just as impressive.’ ”

“It was truly a rewarding experience, and we made a lot of connections with students from the other schools that competed,” said Chris, who will graduate in May 2021.

“Our chemistry as a team helped Emma and I create a well-rounded solution to the problem we were presented.”Emma, who will graduate in December 2020, said beyond it being an honor to represent her university in this way, the competition helped sharpen her financial valuation, research and presentation skills.

“It was really fascinating to look at the financial information they provided us, then dig deeper and examine real-world information about the cyber security industry,” she said. “The research allowed us to reasonably forecast the performance of the target company and speak confidently to current industry trends during the presentation.”

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