2021 Citi x Mack Institute Case Competition Presented Real-World Business Challenge

Nearly 100 University of Pennsylvania freshmen and sophomores participated in the 2021 Citi x Mack Institute Case Competition in March. They tackled a real-world business challenge at Citi with finance, technology, and strategy themes — provided by Citi’s Sales & Trading (S&T) division. The competition offered students exposure to the financial services industry, and an opportunity to hear from Citi’s senior leaders, network with Penn alumni at Citi, and learn more about careers at the company. This is a Q&A with the competition’s first-place winning team: Pragyat Agrawal, Wyatt Currie, Junbin Huang, and Kirill Naumov (all W’24).

What did you think of the case?
The prompt for our 2021 Citi x Mack Institute Case Competition revolved around the announcement of a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine on November 9, 2020. Given the context of that event, we as a team had to come up with sectors of the market that we found most interesting, three stocks that we would recommend to the trader, and explain if the trader should change his strategy–bullish on tech stocks. We found this prompt to be extremely exciting as it directly related to a recent current event and the process of tackling the prompt most mimicked a real-life scenario as a Citi analysis.

What were your first steps after hearing the case prompt?
To brainstorm ideas, we first thought about the initial impact of the vaccine announcement, and from there, discussed the secondary and tertiary impact the vaccine announcement had across industries. The first industry that came to our mind was the logistics and supply chain industry. This industry is responsible for transporting the vaccines to distribution centers and is most related to initial phases of vaccine distribution. Next we thought about the secondary impacts of the vaccine announcement; after reaching herd immunity from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, we expected consumer spending to recover and subsequently the tourism industry. Lastly, we thought about sectors in the market where valuations were inflated due to increased demand for in-home activities. Although this segment or industry is relatively new, we thought it would be greatly impacted by the announcement of a vaccine and an eventual return to normal.

Therefore, as we brainstormed the three industries that we thought were most responsive to the vaccine announcement, we picked a stock for each industry that would most align with our thesis. Overall, although we found this prompt initially challenging, we were able to work together as a team to craft a thorough and innovative response.

2021 Citi x Mack Case Competition winning team
2021 Citi x Mack Institute Case Competition winning team

How did you shape your submission?
Before starting with our work, we just had a vague idea of the companies we wanted to target. Specifically, the sectors we wanted to work with would have to be resilient enough/dynamic in nature such that we could’ve pitched them to investors. Hence, once we put this idea on the table, we were able to pin down our sectors and eventually our companies. Then we went on with an analysis of the company fundamentals and designing our PowerPoint, which we revised several times before reaching the final version. After that, we practiced our presentation skills for presenting the stock pitch slide deck to the judges.

How did participating in the 2021 Citi x Mack Institute Case Competition complement your student experience at Penn?
It resonated with one of the main qualities that Penn teaches us: teamwork. All throughout the competition we worked together and supported each other. Though we weren’t able to meet each other in person, due to the pandemic, there was never any lack of communication between us and that gave us an opportunity to develop a well-written and detailed stock pitch. The competition also gave us an overview of the industry as we were able to communicate with specialists like Ted Rydesky, Managing Director at Citi, who gave us excellent insights about his career at Citi and life in general. This perfectly resonates with Penn, where we have frequent speaker events, with students getting advice from industry leaders themselves.