Grad Scores in National Contest with Business Turnaround Plan
Oct. 12, 2011
A recent UT Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate has found success by looking for trouble.
Sudhanshu Jain, a May MS in Finance graduate and August recipient of an MBA, learned last month that he had won a national student contest that challenges competitors to offer recommendations for resurrecting distressed companies.
Jain earned first place and $3,000 in the Turnaround Management Association’s case-analysis competition. The association is a Chicago-based international professional society for business-recovery specialists. Focused on corporate renewal, its annual Carl Marks Student Paper Competition is open to graduate-level business students at accredited universities. Jain’s prize also included an expense-paid trip to TMA’s annual convention later this month in San Diego.
For the contest, “you have to select a company which you think is financially or operationally distressed,” Jain said. “And you must undertake the financial analysis, industry analysis, and all kinds of specific company analyses. Then you review the company and make recommendations on how you would restructure or turn around that company to make it profitable again.”
Competing can be a team effort, and Jain joined one for JSOM’s first foray into the competition in June 2010. He also worked on a similar project when he took an advanced finance course, Corporate Restructuring and Turnarounds, last fall semester.
But this year most of his past partners had graduated, and he wanted to do something new. So he embarked on a solo study to give the Irving, Texas-based jewelry retailer, Zale Corp., a plan to overcome revenue, inventory and other troubles that analysts that have pegged to the recent recession.
“My recommendation and approach was to maximize the value of the company — both the debt holders’ and the shareholders’,” Jain said. He suggested a comprehensive restructuring that included closing underperforming stores, reducing costs by cutting expenses and scaling back staff, improving customer demand — in part by starting a special bridal program – and divesting unprofitable brands.
Jain relied on SEC filings, ratings reports, earnings releases and other publicly available information to prepare his report, “Restructuring Zale Corporation.” He also prepped by studying winning competition papers from the past several years.
“In my view, you tend to learn a lot more about business when you see the trouble you can get into,” finance faculty member George DeCourcy said. Oversight adviser for the TMA competition this year, DeCourcy taught Jain in FIN 6357, the corporate restructuring and turnaround course.
The course is one in a transformation and turnaround series initially offered by the JSOM-based Center for Finance Strategy Innovation. FIN 6357 started, DeCourcy said, partly at the prompting of the large and active Dallas chapter of TMA. “They see this area as a vitally important field of study for master’s-level students, especially finance students, and it’s a field that is not covered by other area universities.”
Dallas TMA chapter members have encouraged case-competition participation by volunteering as contestant mentors. Jain’s mentor, Soegiono (Sugi) Hadiwijaya, a restructuring specialist at CRG Partners, said that while “the mentor provides guidance, the bulk of the work resides in student hands. If they don’t commit, they don’t make progress…and the mentor can’t help move them forward.”
“It’s a lot of work,” Hadiwijaya said, “especially for one person.” But Jain, he said, “was fully committed.”
Jain, who recently started as an associate in transaction services in the Dallas office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said he hoped “this win will put UT Dallas in the top elite universities in the restructuring and turnaround arena.”
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