Business students attend Louisville conference, competition

John Corum

To most WKU students, Churchill Downs Incorporated is just the parent company of the annual Kentucky Derby. To a small group of Gordon Ford College of Business students, however, the corporation is a client.

This weekend, a team of students from the business college will travel to Louisville to participate in the annual Certified Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge.

The research challenge invites student teams to conduct a thorough financial and qualitative analysis of a sponsor company’s financial processes.

This year, the challenge is sponsored by Churchill Downs Incorporated.

In the first portion of the two-round tournament, student teams are charged with analyzing the sponsor company’s stock to identify its strategic strengths and weaknesses. The students then compose a research report making business recommendations to the company based on their analysis. 

In the second round, the student team travels to Louisville to deliver an oral presentation of their research findings to a panel of judges. Their final ranking depends on scoring from both rounds.

WKU’s student teams have historically done well in the research report round, placing first in the competition in 2012.

According to team leader and finance professor, Indudeep Chhachhi, participation in the challenge supplements the business education of its student teams by helping them to hone real-world skills.

“They go out and research what they need to know and analyze it,” Chhachhi said. “The world runs on analytical skills.” 

WKU’s five-person student team is comprised of Hanson graduate student Seth Ashby, Atlanta graduate student Zachary Ritchey, Bowling Green senior Jacob Billhartz, Vietnam senior Uyen Tran and Lexington senior Devin Brieske.

According to Ashby, preparation for the challenge is very time-consuming.

“I’d say it’s a pretty big time commitment…we’ve probably put 150 hours in it,” Ashby said. 

The time commitment is nonetheless worthwhile, Ashby said, as participation is a great resume builder and an opportunity for networking.

“You’ll definitely land a pretty good job if you make it to the national tournament,” Ashby said.

Chhachhi said his team’s hard work ethic is likely to pay off.

“I think we have an excellent team of hard workers.” Chhachi said. “…This takes a lot of work. You are competing with people who are excellent and this stuff is not easy. If it were, everyone would be on Wall Street.” 

If WKU’s team wins the challenge, they will travel to Denver to participate in the national competition.