Immersion Learning

Investment Banking Immersion starts … Week on Wall Street

by Branko Slavko Rodic, MBA '15 (1/30/14)
Branko Slavko Rodic, MBA '15

Investment banking recruiting process is both challenging and exciting. Prospective bankers meet industry professionals and answer questions designed to push their limits while assessing their fit for the organization. The one question all my classmates and I undoubtedly answered repeatedly was, “Why Cornell?” That one is really easy – because of the Investment Banking Immersion.

Investment Banking Immersion (IBI) is a carefully designed, semester long mix of classes, case-based team projects and lectures by distinguished leaders from the investment banking world. Its core purpose is to prepare us for challenges we are about to face during summer internships by mimicking the real world environment and requiring us to do what bankers do every day. Valuable technical knowledge gained in the safe environment at Cornell will boost our confidence before we hit the desk this summer. That is what makes Cornell unique and what helps us stand out during our internships. The first glimpse on the IBI comes through the Week on Wall Street.

Week on Wall Street (WOW) is based on lively discussions with bankers (many of whom are Cornell alumni) from Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citi, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and UBS, about the deals they recently executed. Preparation for WOW came through in-debt studying of the deals within small groups of 4-5 students. The variety of deals provided plenty of opportunities to discuss logics behind mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, initial public offerings, bankruptcies and increasingly popular shareholder activism while allowing us to absorb energy, manufacturing and insurance/brokerage specific industry knowledge. A set of questions asked up front by the bankers made us think about why a company would pursue an Initial Public Offering (IPO), the right time to go public, characteristics of a good Leveraged Buyout (LBO) candidate, how macroeconomic factors influence deal flow, maximizing the sale price of a bankrupted business, whom to pitch a deal, etc.

Once we developed our understanding of the deals, it was time to hear the perspective of the true deal makers - it was time for a trip to New York City. The amount we learned from them by listening and having our questions answered cannot be overstated. More often than not, few of us found ourselves realizing that we missed an important piece of the puzzle. That’s okay, for now. That’s what WOW is all about. It was very obvious how much preparation and planning went into each one of the cases by IBI leadership and bankers themselves in order to enable us to learn as much as possible. It is fair to say that we now feel much more confident tackling some of the complex technical aspects of banking.

Aside from the banking related topics, it was a lot of fun to learn how energy prices are determined in the United States, whether the activist investor from the cover page of the Wall Street Journal is a “good” guy or a “bad” guy and the fact that the entire movie set or a car prototype can be printed on a 3D printer. The real fun; however, came after each session when we had time to chat with our hosts and catch-up in a relaxing atmosphere.

Week on Wall Street will also be remembered by a lot of offers to my classmates to join top tier investment banks this summer. Hard work and dedication during the fall has started to yield results. Significant contribution to that success comes from our alumni who are maintaining the strong Cornell brand on Wall Street.

From a personal perspective, WOW enabled me to learn a lot. More importantly, WOW made me realize how much I don’t know. The list of things I need to rethink is unsurprisingly long. That motivates me to make the most of the IBI.