Jindal School Student Takes 1st in Commodity Trading Challenge

Nine of 10 UT Dallas Students Make it to the Semifinal Round in International Competition

Apr. 5, 2013

finance student, Jess Shan

Graduate student Jess Shan finished first in the Open Outcry, the second phase of the CME Commodity Trading Challenge.

Jess Shan never dreamed she had the mental makeup to thrive in the fast world of commodity trading. But the Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate finance student recently shouted herself to the top at a mock trading competition that tested students’ trading sense.

Shan and nine other finance students from the Jindal School’s Financial Leadership Association (FLA) competed in the second phase of the CME Group Commodity Trading Challenge, an Open Outcry, at the University of Houston on March 22-23. The competition involved an age-old trading language that uses fast-paced shouting and elaborate hand signals as students try to cut shrewd deals.  

UT Dallas’ delegates proved they could think swiftly on their feet, when nine of 10 moved into the semifinal round of the trading war in Houston. Shan finished first and won $1,000 while Jacob Craft, an undergraduate finance student, placed sixth.

“It was a big surprise to me to be the winner,” Shan said. “Everything happened so fast. It still feels like a dream.”

“The most challenging part was remembering the right gestures, listening carefully and reacting quickly to get the right price to make a deal that will help you control the market,” Shan said.

Remarkably, said FLA adviser and Jindal School finance faculty member Frank Anderson, the gestures, shouting and frenzied world of trading on a mock trading floor were something Shan had never experienced before the competition.

“The single most important factor to our success was teamwork. The communication and trust we have allowed us to make split second decisions and formulate intelligent strategies.”

Michael Sullivan,
Jindal School's FLA president, member of 'Money Never Sleeps' competition team

“What is truly outstanding about Ms. Shan is that she has only been in the U.S. about three months and had no exposure to this type of activity whatsoever. In fact, I was told that she only learned what a ‘limit order’ was just prior to entering the ‘pits’ where students actually compete,” said Anderson.

In the Open Outcry, Jindal School students competed against 45 students from seven universities worldwide, ranging from the University of Tennessee to Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá, Colombia.  Students traded hypothetical crude oil futures contracts and were judged by trading professionals based on their abilities to execute trades and influence the market.

UT Dallas also had a strong showing in the first phase of the competition earlier this month. Craft and Michael Sullivan, the FLA president, placed No. 17 out of more than 300 universities in a month-long electronic trading contest. The team, which called itself “Money Never Sleeps,” turned a beginning balance of $100,000 in virtual money into $224,000.

“The single most important factor to our success was teamwork. The communication and trust we have allowed us to make split-second decisions and formulate intelligent strategies,” Sullivan said. “Our goal was to have a positive atmosphere even when times were tough. We both have similar backgrounds and goals; our competitive spirits are not easily broken. When a group comes together like we did, the atmosphere is contagious, resulting in success.”


Media Contact: Jill Glass, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5989, jglass@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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