Banking on Success: INSEAD MIM's Global Leap to the NIBC Finals

Guillaume Lüber

Midway through a career trek in November, I received a message: “Sign up for the NIBC competition”, and mechanically clicked on it. 

The NIBC is the largest international investment banking competition, hosted this year by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. 

More than 600 teams from 200 universities worldwide participated, and I saw this as a fun way to learn and have a good challenge. 

Immediately motivating a few other students, Matthew Depondt, Bence Paulik, and Yaou Zhang, I formed a team with a lousy name and, after some procrastination – bear with us, it was the winter break – we got to work. The first round required a complete valuation of Diageo PLC, including going through a discounted cash flow, multiples and precedent transaction analysis, and our recommendation for a merger or an acquisition. 

From left to right: Matthew Depondt, Yaou Zhang, Bence Paulik, Guillaume Lüber

We were quite proud of our work, but popping the champagne after the sleepless nights on campus was not nearly as satisfying as receiving the invitation for the final round. 

I remember calling the others, not quite believing we had the opportunity to compete in Vancouver. 

As the first-ever team to represent INSEAD in this competition, we were invited to represent our school and degree in front of international students and compete against top Graduates and MBAs. 

What had started as a fun way to learn more about an industry we were passionate about turned into a potentially incredible experience. And it was. 

Getting everyone on board was not nearly as hard as convincing the Canadian authorities to get our Chinese team member Yaou a visa, and to this day, we are still waiting for an answer. With Antonio Cereda stepping in as a replacement for our visa-less team member, we soon flew halfway across the world, from Singapore to Vancouver. There, the real work began. 

From left to right: Antonio Cereda, Bence Paulik, Matthew Depondt, Guillaume Lüber
From left to right: Antonio Cereda, Bence Paulik, Matthew Depondt, Guillaume Lüber

Waking up after a 30-hour journey at 5 am in a different time zone with a 16-hour difference turned out easier than I had imagined. 

We had six hours to analyse and value a given M&A opportunity for Diageo, suggest an intelligent and realistic move forward for the company, and prepare our presentation in front of sector professionals. We worked on the beds and the ironing table of our hotel room, not even noticing the sunrise over the Vancouver harbour. 

After some burgers that served as both breakfast and lunch, we headed to our meeting in one of the many towers overlooking the city. From the 18th floor, we appreciated for the first time the fantastic view of the mountains overlooking the skyscrapers and got to our presentation.

With more than 60 teams ranging from undergraduates to MBA with M&A experience competing against each other, we were separated into groups of about ten teams, and only one of each could go to the next round. We were happy with our product and felt it reflected our efforts and enjoyed a short break whilst awaiting the results. Unfortunately, our work was bested by an exceptionally skilled team from our pool, which ultimately secured the runner-up position in the competition. 

Worn out but satisfied, we took the time to discover the many conferences and learn from the experience of a panel of professionals from renowned companies. The competition climaxed with a large dinner during which the three last teams presented their work and where the winner was selected. 

After these presentations showcasing a range of entirely different approaches, we enjoyed discussing these concrete alternatives over dinner. The evening was followed by a day of discussion amongst competitors, NIBC organisers and local UBC alumni, which proved to be an enjoyable finale to our whirlwind journey.

To summarise, this NIBC marked my INSEAD journey as a memorable experience I shared with an extraordinary team. 

This week was an immersion into a fascinating industry, an opportunity to forge new friendships with people scattered all around the world through enriching conversations with students and professionals. We might even have convinced some of our competitors to study here at INSEAD, who knows.