GCU team is top performer in Stock Market Challenge
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
It was impressive that a team from Grand Canyon University finished first among all the college entries Thursday night in the Junior Achievement of Arizona’s 11th annual Stock Market Challenge in Scottsdale.
It was doubly impressive that the foursome had the highest return on its original investment, without corporate donations, of any team entered in the competition, which includes teams from major Phoenix area companies.
And it was absolutely astounding that the “Raging Bulls” — Alec Holzer, Anthony Holguin, Brady Harrison and Ondrej Kohutiar — became the fourth GCU team in the last nine years to win the college championship even though their experience in the field is limited to not much more than a Finance 350 class (Introduction to Corporate Finance) in the Colangelo College of Business.
“They’re sharp, they’re good students and they were passionate about and interested in developing the skills to compete,” said Dr. Ernie Scarbrough, who together with Mark Jacobson trained the GCU participants in six one-hour meetings in the weeks leading up to the event.
Here’s how the Stock Market Challenge works: Each team is given a fictitious $500,000 portfolio and then must decide whether to buy or sell stocks based on news reports that come in over the loudspeaker. Each trading “day” is only 80 seconds.
The Raging Bulls increased their portfolio to more than $978,000 — a 95 percent return.
“It was an awesome event,” Holguin said. “Great atmosphere. I highly recommend it to all business students.”
Two other GCU teams competed. The “Havocs,” with Rodolfo Ayala, Meghan Metzger, Tim Riggs and Tristan Rogers, finished third. Also competing, and learning a lot, were the “Bulls,” with Linette Fonseca, Orren Singh, Stepan Stadnitskiy and Evan Vanderbyl.
Holzer, who was participating for the third time — he previously went as a high school student and last year as part of the GCU contingent — said, “It was tons of fun. I love going every time I go. You meet people in all kinds of career fields.”
The training sessions were about more than just investing. Scarbrough and Jacobson also taught the students how to interact with other business professionals, which is another huge benefit of the event. The students all had business cards and distributed them liberally.
Holzer said a key piece of advice was to “go up and talk to them like a normal person. When you shake hands with them, don’t just get their business card and put it in your pocket. Look at what they do and find out more about it in light of current events in the business world.”
The coaching sessions also included how to dress properly for the event and how to organize what each person on the team did. Scarbrough said he enjoyed watching how the Raging Bulls had a plan and then adjusted when events dictated.
“They had to redevelop their plan on the fly,” he said.
Holguin was blown away by his first visit to the event.
“It was great to work in a fast-paced environment as a team,” he said. “Things happened so fast. It was crazy.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.