Ever been in a room where the rest of the people are swapping private jokes? Where you can’t help but be filled with admiration and long to be part of the fold? Well, I had one such experience this Monday 16th of April. Finally after weeks of tracking, cancelled appointments and email swaps, I caught up with the first ever University of Nairobi, School of Business CFA Institute Research Challenge Kenya winners; a team of five outstanding Bachelor of Commerce final year students made up of Laurancia Barasa, Anthony Kimani, Justus Wambua, Edgar Jean Ojiambo and Ruskin Onyambu.
When I arrived to interview them, they were hanging out in Edgar’s room sharing their weekend musings. It was clear from their laughter and familiarity that they had grown to become great friends.
The five explained that they registered to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, Kenya with the aim of building their proficiency in Business. Laurancia, Ruskin and Anthony wish to become the best in Financial and Equity Analysis, Justus’ passion lies in Corporate Finance and Edgar is inclined towards becoming a Forensic Accounting expert.
The CFA Institute Research Challenge is centered around university students carrying out detailed financial research and analysis on identified companies. Mentored by a senior professional, Francis Maina Mwangi, CFA, the team researched and prepared an investment recommendation based on the analysis of a public traded company which was Athi River Mining Ltd. They emerged the best amongst all the Kenyan universities that had participated at the competition held at the Hilton, Nairobi on 8th February 2012. They would represent the University, the country and the East African region at the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Finals in London, where they would be joined by teams from the American University in Cairo and the University of Pretoria to represent Africa.
So on the night of the 12th March, 2012, the team set out to this European land for an experience of a lifetime!
“It was very cold!” Laurancia shared. “Getting around was a bit of a challenge given that London’s transport system is so different from Nairobi’s”
Upon their arrival on the 13th, they checked in at the Thistle™ City Barbican and then proceeded to The Barbican Centre for a briefing of the competition’s rules and guidelines. The next day was the main event so after a bit of a tour of the venue, they proceeded to rest.
“We rehearsed and presented at 10 am” Edgar explains. “We were grouped into 4 groups and a winner was picked from each one. We didn’t manage to proceed to the finals in New York but being there in London was such an achievement!”
Indeed, they did not get to compete in the global finals but as ambassadors of the region, they had done us proud. In our books, they had returned as victors.
I was curious of what their favorite moments were in their tour of London.
“Old Trafford!” Justus exclaimed. “As a football fan, visiting the home of Manchester United was more than awesome!”
Edgar clicking away at his laptop turned it around and showed me footage of the opening of the London Bridge. “That was such a sight!” He said with a smile.
“Come here and see.” Anthony beckoned. On his laptop screen was the picture of him and Ruskin standing before the Swiss Re Building. “That was one of my best moments!”
Laura, with her glistening smile, told me she was fascinated at how Nairobi’s plan was a direct photocopy of London’s blueprint, complete with Uhuru Park as Hyde Park, Kenyatta avenue as Oxford Street and Victoria Station as Kencom Bus Terminus!
I turned to Ruskin in inquisition and he told me that the whole trip was fabulous to him and that he couldn’t isolate just one favorite moment.
Upon their return on the 17th March, they quickly went back to their normal schedules and unless one tracked them down and ask them of
their experience as participants in the Challenge, one wouldn’t really know what they have been up to.
I wrapped up the interview as I awaited Edgar to finish transferring some of their photos into my flash disk.
“What are your plans for the future as far as the CFA Institute is concerned?” I asked.
“To share our insight with the next participating teams from the University of Nairobi” Ruskin said. This was echoed by the rest of the team. “We would like to mentor them and give them a standing chance because now, many more schools are preparing as they await for the next Challenge to commence.”
To the students of the University of Nairobi, get in line and watch out for the announcement of the next CFA Institute Research Challenge by the School of Business Finance Students Association (FISA), which is the contact association of the CFA Institute. Rest assured that you will have a solid backing from these state champions.