Two Sawyer Business School students were among the top-five winners at the CME Group Commodities Trading Challenge, a fast-paced open outcry trading competition. Brooke Weldon won first-place and received a $1,000 cash prize, and Zhen Li placed fourth and received a $250 cash prize.

Hosted by the University of Houston, the competition included undergraduate and graduate students from around the country. Suffolk University students Betty Lo, Anais Baez, James Coghlan, Zhen Li, Ronald Marini, Philip Jordan, Joseph Rebello, Derek Domino, Brooke Weldon, Yun Ying Zeng, Robert Della Croce, and Quynh Pham competed in the event and were accompanied by Professor David Manzler.

Lo, a senior Finance major, coordinated the trip and led the delegation in Houston. She sought out student participants and spearheaded efforts to raise funds through the Student Government Association. “Being very interested in the capital markets, I knew that I had to participate in a competition wherein we would do open outcry trading of futures contracts,” said Lo, who made it to the semi-final round.

On the first day, participants attended training sessions on the open outcry style of commodity future trading. “It was a very informal discussion for those of us new to the challenge and open outcry process in general, Weldon explained. They learned outcry terminology and discussed ways to communicate orders through hand signals.

Li, a senior Finance major, agreed that the training session was helpful. “I knew nothing about how orders were executed on the pit floor before I took the class,” she said. She was also thankful to have taken Principles of Investments and The Global Financial Crisis, which both covered many of the key concepts included in the competition.

On the second day, they competed by trading simulated crude oil contracts and accumulating capital.

The championship round stands out the most for Weldon, who placed first. “As the names were being called out for winners my excitement was increasing,” she said. “Being named champion made me proud to represent Suffolk University, especially since this was our first time entering the competition,” she added.

As a junior Management major and Finance minor, Weldon said her background gave her a leg up in the competition. “I currently hold my AA [Associate of Arts] and ASBA [Associate of Science in Business Administration], so the combination of prior accounting and finance classes, plus communication classes, was to my advantage,” she said. “It was all about thinking on your feet and being not only vocal, but also visually communicative to execute orders that put students into the final round.”

Li, who won fourth place, found the experience extremely gratifying. Her most memorable moment was when other participants congratulated her. “I felt it was not important whether I got a prize at that time; it was the recognition from others that mattered,” she said.

Several of this year’s participants plan to compete again next year to defend Suffolk title, said Lo.