March 24, 2014

"SOLD!" My trip to the Rotman International Trading Competition

It’s not every day that students get to practice the trading strategies they learn in a classroom with a hands-on, market simulated trading platforms. Recently, 11 students and our fearless director, Ahmad Namini, flew north to compete in the Rotman International Trading Competition in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 48 schools from around the globe competed in 7 trading events that tested market intuition, speed of reaction and recovery, model making, and algorithm writing skills.
Hard at work in the Finance Lab
We arrived in Toronto really late on Thursday night. While we missed the opening ceremony, we were still able to bond over the one pound Wings special at a local sports bar! We woke up early on Friday morning so we could get checked in, have first pick at the breakfast spread, and start sizing up our competition.

The first case we competed in was a Commodities trading case. Four team members worked together to aggregate the largest P&L. It was great to work alongside teammates and hedge each other in order to mitigate risk associated with commodities trading.

Commodities trading
The afternoon case was Sales & Trader. Here, we traded two assets using a combination of limit orders, market orders, tender offers, and auction pricing. It was a very exciting element of the competition and one our team succeed in. The fun didn't stop here!

That evening, we had a Quantitative Outcry case.There were two analysts who sat in a room on the second floor with glass windows and performed calculations based on market news while signaling to their two traders on the floor. The traders on the floor interacted in the traditional “Open Outcry” trading floor. This was a test of patience, persistence, and volume! Even though most trading occurs electronically now, it was fascinating to experience what a traditional trading floor looks like with people yelling “BID!” and “ASK!” and “SOLD!”

Quant trading on the floor!
Members of the Quantitative Outcry trading team
We concluded that evening with a team dinner and social at a local bar. We hung out with students from our program and also mingling with students from around the world! Industry professionals and faculty advisers attended the social which was a neat networking opportunity.
Team dinner in downtown Toronto
A Saturday morning wake-up call at 6:30 am isn't always enjoyable…but the excitement of another day of competition quickly changed our spirits. Saturday we traded the CIBC Yield curve case. This case required us to build an interest rate model for three coupon bonds of different maturities based on the interest rates of four zero coupon bonds. We also received news events that randomly entered the market. These news events drove the prices of the bonds up and down creating arbitrage and market making opportunities. 

Throughout the weekend we ran an algorithm that was programmed through Visual Basic which was monitored by one team member. We worked on this several weeks up until the competition and made tweaks throughout the competition.

The culminating reception for the competition occurred on the top floor lookout of the 1000-foot tall CN tower in downtown Toronto. It provided a stunning view of the city lights and was a phenomenal way to end a successful and educational weekend in Toronto. We celebrated in China Town after the reception and then hopped on a plane on Sunday morning to face the hours of homework we had prolonged all weekend!
Team members celebrating a successful weekend on the lookout floor of the CN Tower 

๑ - @ - ๑_A_Little_More_About_The_Blogger_๑ - @ - 

Annika Westre is using an academic background of mathematics and a passion for financial markets to leverage career opportunities in quantitative portfolio management or risk management. Annika enjoys cooking new food, drinking coffee, running, exploring Boston, and playing Sudoku. 

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Blast from the past (fall!): Module 2 Integrated Project Team (Just the Ladies!!)

Photo submitted by Sezgi Nuzumladi, 2015
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March 4, 2014

5 Reasons TechConnect was one of the Best Events during my MBA Experience (as of yet...)

1. Awesome Panelists and Moderators
Security panelists (l to r) Rob Zalkland, Lee Weiner and Paul Roberts
The event brought together industry professionals from some of the most hottest domains in technology: Internet of Things, Mobile Payments and Security and Privacy. It was a perfect blend of industry leaders and new disruptive entrants: the insights were well balanced and covered multiple facets of what is good, bad and ugly about the respective domains.

Some panelist highlights include:
  • Sarah Hodkinson from Paypal talked about the Beacon as well as how Paypal was focusing on empowering both the consumer and merchants to enhance the mobile payment experience.
  • Karen Webster, moderating the mobile payment panel, was one of my favorites and she really turned the talk into a engaging and seamless discussion. I was almost disappointed to see the panel run out of time!
  • The security and privacy panel brought out a lot of critical points on how different the individuals and corporate customers were in their perception of security needs. Ron Zalkind from CloudLock talked about how users are moving faster than security firms by self selecting solutions, however, Lee Weiner from Rapid7 commented that corporations were slower in adopting solutions stating that "Board rooms often don’t address security issues till a breach happens."

2. Engaged Attendees
You know an event is a success when you have attendees stir up as rich conversation as the panels. The attendees at TechConnect were a mix of industry professionals, academia and students, and this made for some really informative and exciting conversation outside of the panels especially during the reception at Scoozi.

3. The Keynote: John Harthorne, founder & CEO of MassChallange
John addresses the audience
John gave some amazing insights into his experience as an entrepreneur.I was inspired me was his opinion of team success: people need to be genuinely excited about a project and be willing to learn new things, after that it was all just about sticking to what you believe and being open to opportunities. This advice, made me realize that my team - and the event - was a success. This is a significant lesson I intend to take with me as I move forward!

4. Kelly Mackey, MS-MBA 2014 (I swear I wasn't bribed into saying this!)
This event was also successful because of Kelly, the planning lead. She not only guided the process but also was passionately involved throughout. She led by example and was a true pleasure to work with. I joined the planning team late, but I knew what I wanted to contribute to the process. Kelly never doubted my intent or skills, and gave me both the guidance and freedom to make my own decisions. 

5. The “Behind the Scenes” Experience
Oren Shevach, one of my teammates!
The TechConnect experience was a highlight for me not only because these events are a crucial part of the MBA experience, but also because of the people involved. We had a great team to begin with (Oren, Jaymie, Paul and Vikram) but a significant onus of the event’s success goes to the people who lent a hand as we approached D-Day (Kirk, Nina, Janet and George).  

Listen to an audiocast of the event here!

Anant Chaudhry is a first year MBA and MS in Information Systems candidate at Boston University School of Management. Anant has an entrepreneurial background, having started a venture in solar energy and another in remittance services. Additionally, he has consulted with businesses in developing marketing and business strategy. He loves karaoke, TV series marathons and long tangential discussions on random things. 

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