PhD, MBA, Undergrad Students Excel in Competitions

Students in the Berkeley-Haas PhD, MBA, and Undergraduate programs recently won or placed in several competitions, showing strength in accounting, finance, and marketing.

PhD Wins Accounting Paper Award

Haas PhD student James Ryans (left) was selected as the winner of the Best Doctoral Student Paper Award at the American Accounting Association’s 2013 Western Regional Meetings April 25 to April 27 in San Francisco.

Ryans co-authored the paper "Investors' demand for sell-sided research:  SEC filings, media coverage, and market factors" with Haas Assistant Accounting Professor Alastair Lawrence and fellow Haas doctoral student Estelle Sun.

The paper bested research presented from other universities including USC, UCLA, the University of Colorado, and University of Arizona.

Ryans and his co-authors studied traffic on a popular website that aggregates stock analysts’ reports, looking at patterns of investor demand for analyst information.

They found that demand is highest in the weeks of earnings announcements. After that, demand for analyst research was highest with the filing of Form 10-K annual reports and 8-Ks, which inform investors of an important event, such as a CEO’s departure, layoffs, or bankruptcy. 

The paper’s conclusions benefit both academics and analysts, who don’t always have access to valuable feedback about what investors find most useful, Ryans says.

“While (this paper) highlights the specific SEC filings and market factors that drive the demand for analyst reports," adds Haas Accounting Professor Patricia Dechow, "it reinforces the important role that analysts play in assisting investors with the interpretation of financial disclosures and market uncertainty."

MBA Students Place in Institutional Investor Competition

This year two Haas students placed in Institutional Investor's new All-America Student Analyst Competition, based on returns in simulated stock portfolios. 

Chao Zhang (pictured right in adjacent photo), MBA 13, took first place in the health care sector with a 28 percent return, and Andrew Krowne (pictured left), MBA 14, placed second in the tech, media, and telecom sector with a 30 percent return.

Zhang cited two fall courses as crucial to analyzing health care stocks: Financial Information Analysis and Health Care in the 21st Century.

Krowne, meanwhile, said he honed in on undervalued stocks with stronger-than-perceived underlying businesses. "The competition was great practice in selecting investment ideas with real-time performance measures," Krowne says.

Both students are pursuing investment careers, with Zhang starting full time at a hedge fund after graduation this month and Krowne heading to an internship at a hedge fund this summer. 

Overall, four Berkeley-Haas students placed in the top 100 in this national competition:  Zhang and Krowne, plus Kim Mason, MBA 15, and Josh Polsinelli, MBA 14

For the sector rankings, visit and scroll down to health care and technology, media, and telecom.

Undergrads Take Second in Advertising Competition with DIY Angle

imagiCal Presenters Nobuko Masuno, Vincent Tzeng, Sofia Dewar, Alexander Moskowitz, Jackie Hwang

Two Haas undergraduates were part of a team that took second place in the regional finals of the National Student Advertising Competition hosted by the American Advertising Federation in San Jose April 19.

The team who presented the final campaign consisted of Alexander Moskowitz, BS 15; Vincent Tzeng,  BS/BA 15 (Bus./Econ.); Sofia Dewar, BA 15 (Cogn. Sci.); Jackie Hwang, BA 14 (Music); and Nobuko Masuno, BA 14 (Psych).

The Berkeley student chapter of the American Advertising Federation, called imagiCal, was the only team whose university does not offer a specific course for students to take to prepare for the competition, although alumni and faculty at Berkeley served as advisers.

The competition begins in the fall and involves the whole 30-student chapter, which runs as an ad agency working on everything from strategy to creative to media buys to executing the campaign, explains Krutika Dave, BS/BA 13 (Bus./Media Studies), one of three students who worked as "executives" charged with ensuring the departments were on track and on time.

This year's competition challenged students to create an advertising campaign to sell Glidden Paint in Walmart stores. University of Nevada Reno came in first.

ImagiCal came up with the tagline "It's That Easy," addressing the misperception that do-it-yourself (DIY) projects involving painting can be tough and time consuming—an insight the team gained from surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one discussions.

To understand the customer's perspective, students went to Walmart on the weekend and did their own DIY project: sanding, painting, and then varnishing Dave's bookshelf a bright salmon pink.

"We went outside on my patio, and it took such a short amount of time," she says. "It really was that easy."