Every year, hundreds of students from around the globe participate in the McGill International Portfolio Challenge, hoping to impress the judges with innovative portfolio strategies and gain access to unique mentorship opportunities. “MIPC Perspectives” is a new project designed to recognize the hard work of uniquely skilled individuals who have previously participated in the challenge. Last year, “Kick Asset Team” member Carla Azevedo walked out of the MIPC with the “Exceptional Storytelling” prize – a testimony to her and her teammates’ undeniable talent.
For Context: The MIPC’s Fifth Edition – Ultra-Low Yields
The fifth edition of the MIPC revolved around the ultra-low yield and high equity valuation environment that the world economy found itself in amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were tasked with designing sustainable investment strategies that delivered adequate returns without taking on excessive risk.
Carla Azevedo – Background
Carla Azevedo’s success at the MIPC is truly exceptional. Prior to obtaining her executive MBA from Porto Business School, Carla was a veterinarian working around the clock to help animals in need. On top of her MBA, Carla holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) and completed an internship in the United States. Already working as a practitioner for several years, she continued investing in her education, obtaining a Master’s degree in Animal Science. She currently works at CEVA Santé Animale, one of the largest animal health companies in the world. Carla’s remarkable profile is proof that anyone eager to put in the work and learn along the way can succeed at the challenge, despite not having extensive investment acumen.
Carla’s MIPC Journey
Carla has always welcomed opportunities to step out of her comfort zone, and the MIPC provided her with the opportunity to do just that. As soon as she heard about the challenge, she contacted her colleagues André and Carlos, who immediately expressed interest in signing up, with Isabel joining as the 4th member of “Kick Asset Team”. Carla described her journey at the MIPC as “amazing” and “exactly what an MBA experience should be about”. She found the competition to be exceptionally well organized, and she appreciated all the planning that went into organizing the challenge.
The MIPC was the “perfect opportunity” for Carla to develop new business skills that would later help her in her professional career. The challenge, which revolved around ultra-low yields, provided her and her colleagues with a “real-life experience” where they had the chance to work with real investment data and a timely and relevant business problem. According to her, the MIPC represents a unique opportunity for participants to become better business professionals.
The MIPC’s mentorship program also appealed to Carla, as it allowed team “Kick Asset” to receive expert feedback on their material which highly improved their proposal. The unparalleled advice that she received ultimately enabled her to deliver higher-quality pitches in her professional role.
The importance of storytelling – How to tell an effective story
Storytelling is often an overlooked aspect of business presentations. Therefore, those who put remarkable efforts into building a creative and effective story around their pitch have a tremendous chance of standing out in the eyes of their audience. Carla said it herself – “stories are more easily remembered than just plain facts and data”.
Carla urged participants to focus on grabbing the audience’s attention right from the beginning of their presentations and keep them engaged over time. The ending of the pitch should deliver the “wow” factor, as the audience tends to remember the beginning and the ending above anything else.
Finally, Carla reminded participants that the MIPC is above all a learning experience. As somebody who was not specialized in finance prior to participating, she learned a lot about pension and investment funds and how those entities operate in ultra-low yield environments.