Gatton students win National Biz Quiz

By Jennifer Abreu

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Three UK students from Gatton College were more than a match for 17 other schools in the Wall Street Journal’s National Biz Quiz, held earlier this month at Ohio State University.

Scott Deschamp, Ryan McFerran and Bert Smith won the quick-recall award at the national competition, where they faced off against some of the top business schools in the country, such as Michigan, Purdue, Notre Dame and North Carolina.

Smith, a senior in finance and economics, won first place individually in the written questions portion.

The quick-recall award was earned by answering questions from six weeks’ news in the Wall Street Journal, with topics ranging from economics and business strategy to fashion to medicine.

Each team member won a $500 gift card from and Smith won an additional $200 for the written competition.

UK faced the University of North Carolina in the finals, and it wasn’t an easy win, according to finance and economics senior McFerran. UNC was the favorite and although UK fell behind early, they made a comeback.

“It feels like butterflies in your stomach,” McFerran said. “All these different teams and professors watching you… it all gets the adrenaline going.”

Knowing how to deal with the emotions also played a role in winning the title, Smith said.

“We responded to pressure very well,” he said. “We had the know-how, but also we were very good at competing and had a great competitive spirit.”

Despite his first place win in written questions, Smith said it’s the team’s effort that contributed to the victory most.

“I was shocked when I won,” he said. “It just shows how prepared we were as a team, and that we covered and talked about the most material.”

The team was coached by Dr. Gordon Holbein, a senior lecturer in strategy and leadership at UK. Holbein counted on the help of the alternate student, economics and Chinese language senior Sean Bell, as assistant coach.

“I am grateful to be associated with such fine students,” Dr. Holbein said. “They’re very committed and hard-working.”

This was Bell’s first time participating, and his job was to quiz the team members weekly on the content they were responsible for.

Bell said Biz Quiz was an opportunity to put UK and Gatton in the spotlight.

“We don’t have have the strongest reputation nationally. We don’t get the recognition we deserve, or feel we deserve,” he said. “So when we participate in competitions like these, it’s important to hold ourselves to a high standard and represent the college well and showcase our skills.”

Dr. Holbein also hopes the win will bring some recognition.

“Students and faculty can become aware that we are committed to providing students with opportunities like these,” he said.

Bell, Deschamp and Smith are members of Pi Kappa Alpha, and McFerran belongs to Phi Sigma Kappa.

Reading assigned sections of the Wall Street Journal Monday through Friday for up to two hours over a period of six weeks, beginning in September, was the team’s preparation for the competition. To stay on track, the group met on Friday afternoons with Dr. Holbein and Bell for a two-hour long question session.

The team’s studying strategy was efficient, according to economics and chemical engineering senior, Deschamp.

“Over the week we accumulated more and more,” he said. “The last question was one of the questions that Sean wrote for me, or closely related to it.”

The last question that guaranteed UK the quick-recall award? “Who is the largest shareholder in Standard Chartered Bank?” The Answer? Terasek Holdings.

The team showed commitment and readiness in the practice sessions, according to Dr. Holbein.

“They always showed they were working hard,” he said. “They came very prepared, it was clear they we spending their time very well.”