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The winners of the 2014 Wharton Private Equity Buyout Case Competition. From left, Emma Gergen '14, Keith Roux '14, Garrett Greer '14, Ben Kaplan '15 and Andrew Welch '14.
The winners of the 2014 Wharton Private Equity Buyout Case Competition. From left, Emma Gergen ’14, Keith Roux ’14, Garrett Greer ’14, Ben Kaplan ’15 and Andrew Welch ’14.

A team of Kellogg students recently took first place at Wharton’s 14th Annual Private Equity Buyout Case Competition for their approach to purchasing Abercrombie & Fitch. With only five days to develop the plan and 30 minutes to present, the competition provided a valuable opportunity for the team to put the skills they’ve learned at Kellogg to the test.

On working as a team

Ben KaplanWe started by carefully considering how well we would work as a team. Before we developed our approach, we wanted to be sure that our goals were aligned and our skills complemented each other. We knew that we would need a team with strong transactional experience, and everyone on the team had this, but we also knew that we would need a more holistic set of capabilities. Our team had a unique combination of private equity, consulting, investment banking, CFO and legal experience. We kicked off by soliciting everyone’s top three thoughts/ideas on the case, formulating a collectively agreed upon plan of attack, and then apportioning responsibilities based on relevant experience and capacity.

— Benjamin Kaplan ’15

On what set their presentation apart

Keith RouxOne of the major themes that is reiterated across many of the classes at Kellogg is even the most sophisticated and brilliant strategy has very little value if it isn’t executable. This theme played a major role in our decision to limit our focus to only two critical strategic initiatives that we felt could be executed with a high degree of certainty and would have a meaningful impact on the profitability of the business. Our focused approach allowed us to complete a very detailed level of analysis. The result was a defensible investment thesis that was rooted in a well-defined, actionable valuation creation strategy.

— Keith Roux ’14

On the Kellogg education

In particular, Professors Petersen and Lys were instrumental in providing us with not only a solid financial foundation but also a strategic lens to consider the case through. However, more broadly, our approach incorporated frameworks and academic concepts learned through courses such as operations, marketing and strategy. Our effective teamwork was facilitated by our frequent team-based projects in Kellogg, and our influential communication skills were honed by our MORS classes.

— Benjamin Kaplan ’15

On why case competitions are important

Case competitions are a great way to bridge the gap between the academic setting and real world environment. Furthermore, they are a great way for teams from different schools to showcase their real world capabilities in highly competitive environment. Kellogg is collaborative, but competition is imperative for continuous improvement. This competition allowed us to showcase how Kellogg’s well-rounded students and education drive excellence in private equity.

— Benjamin Kaplan ’15