Share |

Polaris Investment Competition:
A Learning Opportunity with a Real Reward

The Polaris Investment Competition is a high-level competition open only to Merage MBA students. Teams work together choosing investments and creating a portfolio – using real money for real-world accountability. Each team must select companies worthy of their investment based upon an exhaustive qualitative and quantitative analysis.

The investment funds, totaling $1.5 million a year, are generously provided by venture capitalist Chuck Martin, Chairman and CEO of Mont Pelerin Capital, who supervises the process. The experience gives students a pragmatic experience in evaluating companies and business models, using the stock market as a tool. This is the only investment competition offered by any MBA program that allows an open forum for every single student across all MBA sections to participate – and receive real cash rewards.

The Polaris Investment Competition is a program of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management, one of the Centers of Excellence at the Paul Merage School of Business.

The Polaris Investment Competition:

    • Selects five teams every year, made of four to six Merage MBA students per team
    • Spans 52 weeks
    • Provides teams with up to $210,000 each
    • Shares profits – up to $8,000 per team member – with students to offset tuition costs
    • Posts team results on a public scoreboard
    • Awards cash prizes depending on performance and placement in the competition

Polaris Participants:
    • Gain experience in the valuation, risk analysis, forecasting, pricing and financial analysis of publicly traded companies
    • Build teamwork skills making high-powered decisions in a small group
    • Learn to perform research, background and due diligence to evaluate companies
    • Receive continuous feedback and interaction with seasoned investor Chuck Martin, a rare opportunity for MBA students

No matter what your career plans, participating in the Polaris Investment Competition can help prepare you for your future by being able to understand and analyze companies strategically, operationally and financially. These skills will serve you well in choosing a place to work as well as managing your own wealth portfolio.



Steve Chang“Polaris can benefit any FEMBA student, because it gives you insights you won’t necessarily get in the classroom or even in your own business segment. Students get a deeper understanding of some of the true business drivers—pricing power, gross margin, operating margin. They learn to analyze performance, and interpret profit and loss statements. On another level, they learn about managing their own wealth portfolio, which is going to be critical over the next 20 years.”

Steve Chang
Worldwide MVC Program Manager, Hewlett Packard, San Diego
Class of 2006


Some statistics on the Polaris Competition:
  • A total of $480,000 in cash awards has been distributed to Merage students since 2005. 
  • Many of the top investment teams in previous years have been FEMBA students, and many earned cash profits. 
  • In the 2008 competition, three of the five teams were comprised of FEMBA students.  

    Roger Shih“Polaris goes far beyond learning the stock market. It’s about working in a team environment. You have to consider what is best for the portfolio, without being dominated by one team member’s passionate drive. The winning teams have full participation. Everyone needs to be able get their ideas on the table and be heard.”

    Roger Shih
    Polaris Investment Competition Participant
    FEMBA Class of 2006

About Chuck Martin

Chuck (Charles) Martin is the Chairman, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Mont Pelerin Capital Management Company, a Newport Beach investment management firm.

Mr. Martin is a highly seasoned investor in a broad range of asset classes, particularly in the corporate equities world. He has been an active investor in the stock market for over 40 years. He founded Enterprise Partners in 1984, the largest venture capital firm in Southern California, and served as its managing partner until his retirement in 1999.

As a champion of real accountability/real responsibility practices, Mr. Martin believes in taking education beyond the classroom and into the real world, where the correct answer isn’t as easy to discern.

About Michael A. Cancelleri

Michael A. Cancelleri is the Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager of Mont Pelerin Capital. Mr. Cancelleri has worked as the principal research analyst and portfolio manager for Polaris, assisting in the development, testing and refinement of the Polaris model and investment system as well as its implementation. His d
Mike Cancelleriuties also include financial modeling, performing detailed securities research and quantitative analysis for all candidate investments, as well as performing ongoing due diligence and maintenance of all portfolio companies.

Mr. Cancelleri earned his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Finance from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine in 2005. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University.


“As a FEMBA alum, I am proud to see that the fully employed MBA students have done extremely well in the Polaris Investment Competition. In past years, the majority of teams are FEMBA students, and they killied the index. This unique program provides students with experiences that would take years to obtain in the workplace,” Mr. Cancelleri says.