BYU Marriott Takes First at Silver Lake

PROVO, Utah – May 22, 2018 – As demonstrated in the iconic movies Rudy, The Karate Kid, and Seabiscuit, an underdog can rise from bottom to top, surprising both friends and foes. A team of BYU Marriott students joined the list, taking first place in the Silver Lake Private Equity Competition.

In a majority of past Silver Lake competitions, finalists have mainly been Ivy League and NYU students. Having a BYU team not only make it to the final round, but also win the competition, was a big surprise to the East Coast participants and judges.

“Our competitors were all surprised at first that BYU won, but in talking with them about what BYU does, there was a feeling of respect,” says Blake Hannesson, a finance senior from New Fairfield, Connecticut. “It was fun to stand out and feel a little bit different.” 

Silver Lake is the largest nationwide competition offering students the opportunity to explore private equity. Students were challenged with picking a company worth at least $500 million and performing an LBO analysis. Using their analysis, they were tasked with developing a thesis and presentation on the LBO research.

“The very last night before the competition, we worked in the Tanner Building until we got kicked out at midnight,” says Jon Chichoni, a global supply chain senior from Elk Ridge, Utah. “We spent all night after that working at my office. It was very exciting but super high pressure and felt very ‘do or die.’”

Of the approximately 75 submissions sent in for the first round of the competition, only five—including BYU—moved on to the final round. After more than 250 hours of tireless effort, the BYU students boarded a plane and headed to the University of Pennsylvania, where the case competition took place.

Following Silver Lake judges’ inspection of strength, accuracy, detail, insightfulness, and creativity in each of the finalists’ executive summaries and presentations, BYU received the first place prize of $3,000.

Team members attributed their success to two major factors—the dedication and skill level of each team participant and the rigor of BYU Marriott programs.

“I participated in this competition to represent the idea that students from BYU have the ability to perform at the same level as students from Ivy League schools,” Chichoni says. “BYU can do just as well as any other school.”

In addition to Hannesson and Chichoni, the team consisted of finance seniors Erica Valimaki from Orem, Utah, and Michael Ellis from Indianapolis, Indiana.

BYU Marriott School of Business prepares men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. BYU Marriott has four graduate and ten undergraduate programs with an enrollment of approximately 3,300 students.

Silver Lake Participants
BYU Marriott team (left to right) Blake Hannesson, Jon Chichoni, Erica Valimaki, and Michael Ellis.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Sydney Zenger