Acknowledging a Mentor’s Guidance

Duff & Phelps YOUniversity Deal Challenge

Wisconsin School of Business students, from left, Cong Xu, Nick Stender and Zachary Sikora won the Duff & Phelps YOUniversity Deal Challenge, a valuation competition in New York. Their faculty advisor was Senior Lecturer Belinda Mucklow, center.

Finance and accounting major Nick Stender was excited about what he was learning, and that caught his parents’ attention.

“Nick had earned a spot in the Investment Banking Club, which is really hard to get into,” said father Stew Stender (’81 BBA Bus), a partner in Stewart Capital Partners. “He starts giving us unsolicited feedback on various professors. I’m thinking, ‘Wow, this kid is really engaged.’”

Nick Stender talked about preparing as part of a three-person Wisconsin School of Business team for the Duff & Phelps YOUniversity Deal Challenge, a valuation competition in New York. Their faculty advisor was Senior Lecturer Belinda Mucklow.  “He told me, ‘Dad, we’re going to win this thing, because we’ve got Belinda as our advisor,’” Stew Stender said. “This is incredible for a parent to hear.”

The Challenge is designed to engage college students from around the United States to hone a broad range of skills, including mergers and acquisitions advising, transaction opinions, dispute consulting and valuation advising.

“Basically, we had to put together an entire valuation of a company and present it to bankers and faculty members from other schools,” Nick Stender said. Mucklow “helped us prepare the presentation, helped us with the numbers, gave us advice and put us in the right direction.

“She really helped us to get the finance down,” he said. “She took a lot of her own time to do that. Everything was based on a finance class I had taken with her previously. That made her a perfect advisor, because she taught us how to do everything we did for this competition.”

The UW-Madison team – which included Zachary Sikora and Cong Xu – won the competition and $5,000 per student to be applied to the cost of attending the university.

“Her class gave me all the skills I needed for the internship”

Nick Stender

Mucklow guided the team through the two steps of the Challenge. The first was making an analysis of a case that Duff & Phelps provided. After the field was narrowed to three, the teams were invited to New York with their faculty advisors to present their analysis before a panel of eight judges.

“For that part,” Mucklow said, “the preparation involved getting them ready to be grilled by judges – and grilled they were!” It was necessary to anticipate what the students might be asked by the judges, and as part of that she organized a practice presentation with four faculty members and four master’s students.

“I cannot tell you how hard the three members of the team worked,” she said.  “When you combine their intelligence with their willingness to work, their willingness to learn and willingness to try to understand, you have an unbeatable combination. I was, and still am, so proud of this team.”

Stew Stender and wife Deb Davenport (’81 BS L&S), a physician with Southdale OB/GYN Consultants, are longtime supporters of the university, giving to the annual funds of the Wisconsin School of Business and the College of Letters & Science. The couple wanted to do something for Mucklow and the finance program. “This work she’s done is above and beyond,” he said.

They made a gift that will enable Mucklow and the School to acquire a key piece of software to help students with building and updating financial models.

“Nick has always been a pleasure to teach and work with,” Mucklow said. “I think this competition was a huge, invaluable learning experience.”

After interning at Deutsche Bank on Wall Street in the summer of 2012, Nick Stender is on track to graduate in May 2013. He has accepted a position with Deutsche Bank’s investment banking team, and he credits Mucklow and her guidance for much of his success so far.

“Her class gave me all the skills I needed for the internship,” he said. “A lot of the kids I’ve talked to from outside of the Big Ten didn’t have this kind of background. It’s really, really useful. It’s so helpful with everything I’ve done and what I’ll be doing on my job.”