Gov. Ned Lamont, UConn Interim President Radenka Maric, and School of Business Dean John A. Elliott on Friday, Jan. 21 honored five graduate students whose investment prowess beat almost 500 teams worldwide, capturing the top award in the 2021 Bloomberg Global Trading Challenge.
Using the lessons learned through their academic program, their trading portfolio for the competition surpassed a Bloomberg benchmark by more than $467,000 and topped the second-place finishers by more than $100,000.
The graduate students, all in the Financial Risk Management (FRM) program, include Sayem Lincoln, Jayabhushan Nallakannu, Varun Katari, Justin Keish and Matt Ciaburro. The team adviser was finance professor Michel Rakotomavo.
Lamont told the students that their achievement was remarkable and that he was impressed by their strategy to invest in promising, underdog companies ranging from vaccines to electric vehicles to cryptocurrency.
“Don’t think you’re too young to play in this game,’’ he said, adding that they bring a youthful perspective to identifying powerful and promising investments.
“We really want young people like you to stay in Connecticut,’’ he said at the ceremony held UConn Stamford. He encouraged them to meet with the state treasurer to discuss investment strategy and to consider establishing their careers in the state. “This is an amazing place where you have access to the best and brightest.’’
Maric also praised the accomplishment of the students, three of whom also earned their undergraduate degrees at UConn.
“At UConn, we don’t only produce the best basketball players but also those who compete internationally in academics,’’ she said. “We have students who want to innovate, who want to do research, and who want to stay in Connecticut.’’ The faculty are here to help inspire academic champions and help their students succeed. She told the students they have made everyone extremely proud.
Elliott highlighted the tremendous amount of work that it took to bring home “the gold,’’ including late nights of brainstorming.
“You were remarkably intentional in what you chose to do, remarkably dedicated in the energy you put into it, very accomplished in the knowledge you brought to the table. You listened well to good advice,’’ Elliott said. “But you were the ones who put the energy, effort and thought behind it. We are so pleased and we look forward to seeing what you achieve next.’’
The five graduate students said they were honored and humbled by the attention, and that UConn is a place where they’ve always felt supported. Finance professor Yaacov Kopeliovich, who had originally encouraged the students to enter the competition, attended the event, as did other School of Business leaders.
“This is exciting. You don’t get to see the governor, in person, every day,’’ Lincoln said before the ceremony.
“Or to be the reason why he’s here,’’ Keish added.
Rakotomavo said the students deserve the limelight.
“This is a great achievement, surpassing students from the best universities not only in the U.S. but in the world,’’ he said. “When you get to that level, I don’t think they can be praised enough. They are very humble group and a wonderful representation of the FRM program. They all love a challenge and that’s what made them great.’’