UH Bauer College Students Come Out on Top at High-Stakes Open Outcry Competition

UH C. T. Bauer College of Business showed their market savvy at the NYMEX Open Outcry Competition on April 18-19, 2008. Of 75 competitors from universities in Texas and Oklahoma, some on the graduate level, Bauer College of Business undergraduate students Ana Lucia Chaverria and Rieza Marukot took first and second place respectively. Seven out of 17 finalist positions went to Bauer College students as well.

The competition was held in Melcher Hall on the University of Houston campus, home to Bauer College, and coordinated by members of the Finance Association, a student organization at Bauer. Twenty-two companies, including Conoco Phillips, Merril Lynch Commodities and Shell, helped to sponsor the competition.

For the past four years, the event has been a Bauer College mainstay. The outcry is an intense simulated trade competition with two phases - in the first phase, participants worked in groups and did table trading. Out of 29 teams from 22 universities, the graduate team from Bauer placed 12th, and the undergraduate team placed 14th.

The second phase centers on the age-old method of "open outcry," using shouting and hand gestures to buy and sell stocks. Students must also adapt to news information that may change the price of the stocks.

"The open outcry session was very competitive. These concentrated trading rounds mirrored the crude oil futures pit on the NYMEX during the Gulf Wars," said Brad Banky, vice president for financial trading at Shell.

With everyone shouting, pens flying and hand in the air, students were intense about trading oil futures. "The hardest part of the event was maintaining composure amongst all the chaos," said senior finance major and NYMEX Open Outcry winner Chaverria. "The competition requires multitasking, paying attention to both sellers and buyers, the prices and not violating the bid or the offer, because that can really count against you."

Corporate representatives were impressed with the high level of skill demonstrated by Bauer students, as well as the amount of preparation put in by Finance Association members who organized a panel discussion that preceded the competition, Banky said. Ten panelists from companies including NYMEX, Shell and BP answered questions from outcry participants.

"The panel discussion prior to the open outcry challenge was an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to address many poignant questions," Banky said. "I believe this Q-and-A session delivered real world answers for students to combine with their academic experiences."

The experience of learning from industry professionals and putting those skills to use was valuable for competition winner Chaverria, who said the competition was the best experience she had in college. She added that went in with no expectations but wanted to do better than she did in 2006 when she placed 4th.

"Challenges exist not to hold you back, but to show you your true potential," Chaverria said. "This competition can be intimidating because of the nature of the exercise. However, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and you might surprise yourself and others."

Last year, a Bauer student claimed the top spot as well. Finance and accounting graduate Saeeda Jamaluddin ('07) placed first and received a coveted, all expenses paid internship with NYMEX in New York. She is now part of the trading team with Conoco Phillips and attended this year's trading competition.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the C. T. Bauer College of Business
The C. T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International - the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C. T. Bauer College of Business.