April 13, 2023

Students pay it forward, donate prize money to help build finance and trading community

UCalgary team claims 3rd prize in world’s largest international trading competition
Justin Gotta, Tara Jindal, Drew Van Den Bosch and Kian Sadeghi
Left to right: Justin Gotta, Tara Jindal, Drew Van Den Bosch and Kian Sadeghi.

Training for the world’s largest international trading competition looks different than other battlefields. Students flex their Excel skills – parsing and working with macros. Poring over past models from alumni teams. Running simulations and doing research.

Time in the N. Murray Edwards Trading and Finance Lab at the Haskayne School of Business pays off with teams from UCalgary having a strong history in the Rotman International Trading Competition, and with this year’s team claiming a third-place spot among a total of 43 teams from around the world.

“The program completely transformed my career, goals and ambitions, and that wouldn't be possible without coach George Hart and the entire lab as a whole. It's sort of nice to pay it back, so that students can also have those opportunities and experiences,” says Justin Gotta, fifth-year student majoring in economics.

It’s always good to pay it back to the future no matter how small the donation.

The team that made it to the podium also included Tara Jindal (second-year Haskayne School of Business student majoring in finance, with a minor in data science), Kian Sadeghi (fifth-year student in a dual degree in finance and math) and Drew Van Den Bosch (fifth-year Haskayne student majoring in finance). It is worthy to note that all UCalgary team members are undergraduate students where many other teams include graduate students. They decided as a group to put the $1,000 prize money back to the lab.

A big component of the budget for the finance lab is for trading data marketing software packages like Bloomberg and S&P Capital IQ. On the trading side, the lab also pays for use of the simulation software that comes from the University of Toronto. The program has been fortunate to have had the support of committed donors to offset many of the larger costs, and donations such as the one from the students build upon other donations to help keep the trading program strong.

Building a community

Starting in 2012, Haskayne has had a trading program focused on training for competitions. Since then, UCalgary teams have ranked highly at the Rotman International Trading Competition, and in 2018 the team won first.

“The team that won in 2018, all six of those students got jobs in trading,” says coach George Hart. “I know that team from 2018 probably still has the same group chat they had when they were working on the competition. They keep in touch. Many people who have competed in the past have helped the program either as volunteers or donors.”

Jindal mentions that trading can be a very new or abstract concept for students, so having exposure to alumni working in the industry opens new horizons for students.

Launching careers

“I think it's a great idea, reinvesting in this program," says Van Den Bosch “It's a well-knit community and there's a lot of up-and-coming people looking to pursue this program.”

Van Den Bosch is returning to work at Cenovus energy within their new grad program for trading, where he will experience three rotations: market risk, trade fundamentals, and trade analytic. Gotta is also starting a career in trading through the grad rotational program at bp.

Whether they pursue a career in trading in the end, all of the students recognize the soft skills they have developed through competing, such as being able to analyze the impacts of decisions, teamwork and mentorship.

“At the end of the day,” says Sadeghi, “trading is about taking in information and making decisions off of that.” Which is a skill that will be well used as these students start their careers.

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