RU Business Students Win Awards, Explore Wall Street

Students from Radford University's College of Business and Economics stepped out of the classroom and onto the dais and the trading floor, bringing home awards and Wall Street experience.

Four student members of the RU chapter of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) won six awards at the PBL State Leadership Conference March 31 in Richmond, and the chapter advisor was recognized for 10 years of service to the organization.

That same weekend, five other RU students and two advisors were part of a group attending the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (GAME) II Forum in New York.

At the PBL conference, Mazin Rayes, a junior economics major from Great Falls, placed first in Economic Analysis and Decision Making after presenting a case study to a panel of judges. By scoring highest on PBL's online tests, Christopher Montana, a senior computer science and technology major from Chesapeake, won in Computer Concepts, and Kwan Tonpoobaln, a senior computer science and technology major from Charlottesville, won in Networking Concepts.

"I was well prepared for the tests by my classes at RU," Tonpoobaln said. "It was a great feeling when they called my name."

faculty and students visiting wall street

Members of RU's Student Managed Investment Portfolio Organization visit the trading floor of RBC Capital Markets in New York. From left are an RBC employee, faculty advisor Steven Beach, Katrina Koussis, Chris Blake, Mike Palmer, Darren Colaiacovo, Brandon Sabetta, faculty advisor Clarence Rose and Trang Nguyen.

Tonpoobaln and Montana also finished second in Cyber Security and Computer Applications, respectively. In the Macroeconomics event, RU's David Kouadio, a senior economics major from Blacksburg, finished second.

Each student now qualifies to compete at the PBL National Leadership Conference in June in San Antonio. The RU group competed with more than 100 business students representing 13 of Virginia's colleges and community colleges.

"Through winning, these students brought recognition to the quality of educational programs at Radford University. I am so very proud of them and their great achievements," said Prahlad Kasturi, professor and chair of economics and PBL faculty advisor. Kasturi was also recognized by the state PBL at the conference for his 10 years of outstanding service as RU's chapter advisor.

PBL, a postsecondary division of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), is the largest professional business association in the world, with more than 11,000 college student members and 3,000 business professionals, alumni and educators.

award winners

RU's award recipients at the recent Phi Beta Lambda state leadership conference were from left: Mazin Rayes, David Kouadio, Kwan Tonpoobaln and Prahlad Kasturi, faculty advisor.

In New York, a contingent from RU’s Student Managed Investment Portfolio Organization (SMIPO) joined an international group of college students and faculty to interact with industry leaders and learn best practices in investment management.

The group met representatives from Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, The Hartford, Morningstar and the National Association of Realtors to discuss the economy, alternative assets, stock markets and corporate governance. They also spent time with three RU and SMIPO alumni: Darren Colaiacovo '91, Dan Sestito '11 and James Gearhart '10, who showed them around town and shared their experiences in the investment management field.

"New York City is the financial center of the country, and we had a great opportunity to see the people, the action and the communication that actually make things happen," said SMIPO President Christopher Blake, a senior economics major from Chesapeake. "They told us how hard they work and what their jobs are like, and that is what I wanted to hear."

Colaiacovo, director of Municipal Markets at RBC Capital Markets, took the students on a tour of his company's trading floor and headquarters. The SMIPO group included Blake, Katrina Koussis, Trang Nguyen, Michael Palmer, Brandon Sabetta and faculty advisors Steven Beach and Clarence Rose.

SMIPO recently closed out its first complete year as manager of the SMIPO Small- to Mid-Cap Value Fund with a total portfolio value of $804,501.80. The fund's one-year return, from February 2011 to February 2012, was 2.09 percent, surpassing its primary benchmark, the Morningstar Small- to Mid-Cap Value Index.