The 2021 Fowler Center Impact Investing Virtual Competition
The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University would like to thank the students, judges and our keynote speaker, Aarti Chandna, who all helped make our 2021 Impact Investing Virtual Competition a big success. We would also like to give a special thanks to our sponsoring organization McDonald Hopkins.
The 2021 Impact Investing Case Competition took place in February 2021, and gave students the opportunity to assess environmental, social and governance challenges through sustainable investing. Five student teams presented before a panel of five judges, all representing a unique and diverse field of investing and social impact-oriented practitioners.
Presenters included full-time, part-time and undergraduate students from the Weatherhead School. Numerous degree programs were represented in the competition and students presented their creative solutions to manage a portfolio of investments as impact investors.
The 2021 Impact Investing Competition was focused on enhancing students’ awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN Global Goals) and gaining real-world understanding of portfolio management in the impact investing space. Students were given an opportunity to be creative in their roles as impact investors and create portfolios of investments that had maximum impact coupled with good financial returns.
Due to COVID-19, the 2021 competition was held in a virtual format. Students were provided certain guidelines to follow a four-step procedure:
- First, choose a UN Sustainable Development Goal;
- Second, formulate an investment thesis;
- Third, determine investments and allocate funds; and
- Fourth, perform due diligence.
Teams were asked to allocate $100 million USD in one to three investment opportunities. For performing due diligence of their chosen investment, students were given a rubric to grade their investment on multiple attributes including the management team, mission definition, potential to scale, financial returns, business model, and go-to market strategy. After finalizing their portfolios and completing due diligence, teams were required to “pitch” their investment portfolios to a panel of potential investors (judges of the competition) through pre-recorded video recordings.
The pre-recorded, eight-minute-long video presentations from the participating teams addressed the reason behind choosing a specific UN Global Goal, their investment thesis, their approach for determining investments and an overview of each investment.
Teams also highlighted how these investments measured up during due diligence and how they would track the success of their investments over a period of time. Each team was given a specific time slot during which the pre-recorded video presentation was played. After the video concluded, judges had a five-minute long live Q&A session with each team to understand their investment choices and strategies.
Judges evaluated each team and also provided their valuable feedback, which was shared anonymously with participating teams after the competition was concluded. During the time when the judges were deliberating on the winning teams, an interview with Aarti Chandna, impact investor and Case Western Reserve University board of trustee member, was streamed at the event.
Success of the Competition
The Impact Investing Competition was successful in its first-ever virtual format. We were happy and proud to receive positive feedback from students as well as the judges.
The majority of the students felt that the competition was a good way to learn about impacting investing and social value creation. Students appreciated the creative and flexible approach of the competition. Students were able to learn more about the UN SDGs and how impact can be created to achieve these goals. Students enjoyed the flexibility to work with and compete against Weatherhead School students from diverse degree programs. Judges enjoyed seeing the creativity and the thought processes of the students. They also appreciated the seamless transition from one team presentation to another in the virtual format.
We also extend our sincere gratitude to Chandna, impact/angel investor and advisor, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund and also a member of the Board of Trustees at Case Western Reserve University. She was the keynote speaker (through a pre-recorded interview) for this competition and was phenomenal in lending her support and advice throughout the competition.
- From the participating teams, judges selected first- and second-place teams:
- First place was won by the PMBA team with members Eric Novak (part-time MBA), Anchit Agarwal (part-time MBA) and Brandan Durkin (part-time MBA).
- Second place was won by team Oriental Charging Bull with members Yue Lu (MSM-Finance), Tianchen Qin (MSM-Finance), Haoxin Liu (MSM-Finance) and Lingkai Wu (MSM-Finance).
Many congratulations to our first- and second-place teams!
Competition Speakers and Judges
Aarti Chandna has been an angel/impact investor and advisor for the last 12 years. Before that, she held executive positions at technology companies, where she led global IT teams. Companies she has worked at include Oracle, Hitachi, Coherent, Autodesk, and Nikon. Currently, she co-leads Impact Investing for Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund. She has been a guest lecturer for an impact investing course at Stanford and for a seminar series course in impact investing at Weatherhead School of Management at CWRU. Given her deep passion for technology, social change and empowerment, Chandna mentors social entrepreneurs and invests in companies driving social change with a technology focus. Some programs she has mentored at and advised include MIT's D-Lab accelerator, MIT-Solve, Stanford GSB Startup Garage, Stanford Sensa Labs, and GSBI Miller Center.
Chandna serves on the Board of Trustees at Case Western Reserve University. She is a board member at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, Peninsula Bridge, and Teen Success Inc. She also serves on the advisory board at Miller Center, Santa Clara University. Chandna holds a BS in mathematics from Bombay University and an MS in computer science from Case Western Reserve University.
Christal L. Contini
Christal Contini is a member and a co-chair of the McDonald Hopkins Mergers and Acquisitions Practice Group. She also provides general corporate counseling to a variety of middle-market businesses, business owners, boards of directors, management teams and investors on matters relating to corporate governance, commercial contracts, compliance, and operational issues. Her industry experience covers a wide array of industries such as healthcare, restaurants,and manufacturing.
Amy Wojnarwsky is an associate in the McDonald Hopkins' business department. She has provided counsel to privately held businesses in merger and acquisitions, contract and lending matters, new entity formation and business succession planning. Amy earned her JD, cum laude, from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2013. She also received a master of elementary education, summa cum laude, from Arizona State University in 2009 and a BA in political science from Yale University in 2007.
Chris Jeannot is a relationship management officer specializing in Portfolio Management in Glenmede's Cleveland office. Jeannot works with senior investment professionals to provide tailored tax-efficient advice for Private Wealth Clients. Before working at Glenmede, he was an investment advisor at PNC, where he worked with clients to provide comprehensive investment advice and portfolio management. He also gained experience at Vigilant Capital Management, where he served as chair of the Proxy Voting Committee and member of the Investment Policy Committee. Jeannot received his BS from The University of New Hampshire and is also a CFA charterholder.
Co-founder of EPOCH Pi, Lynn Carpenter has previously served as director for both South Franklin Street Partners and Candlewood Partners LLC. She also worked as an associate on the buyout team for Morgenthaler where she assisted in the management of $1 billion in capital. Carpenter has experience using culture assessment tools and is certified in using Denison Consulting's Organizational Culture Survey and has substantial experience adding both cultural and strategic alignment to traditional investment banking.
Theo Legwaila is an analyst at EPOCH Pi, an investment bank focused on providing services to impact and stakeholder-driven companies. Legwaila joined EPOCH after graduating with honors from European University of Geneva in Switzerland with a BBA in finance and a minor in marketing. He supports the team with research, financial modeling, valuation and the preparation of marketing materials in relation to capital raises, mergers and acquisitions. In his spare time, Legwaila enjoys spending time with his family, reading, watching sports and volunteering for local causes in the poverty reduction space.
Ben Cooper is senior vice president of utilities, power, and renewable energy, where he helps Key Bank invest in renewable energy, with a focus on solar and wind electricity generation, as well as utility-scale batteries. Cooper joined Key after completing his MBA at Weatherhead in 2015, where he was also an inaugural Fowler Center fellow. Before moving to Cleveland, Cooper earned his BA in Economics from the University of Chicago. In his eight years in Fitch's Global Infrastructure and Project Finance Group, he concentrated on conducting credit analysis on power projects. In his spare time, Cooper enjoys strength training and remembering when he played ultimate frisbee.