Spelman students win $1M Goldman Sachs prize

This is the second time in three years Spelman has been the competition’s big winner

Credit: Speci

Credit: Speci

Spelman College got a million-dollar boost this week through the efforts of five underclassmen.

On Monday, Princess Dandoo, Madison Porter, Gabrielle Smith, Victoria Woodward — sophomores at Spelman — and Havelin Autry, a freshman, won the Goldman Sachs Market Madness case study competition and claimed the $1 million grand prize for their school. Spelman said the winnings will be put into their general scholarship fund.

“It was just such like a shocking moment to know that our hard work really just paid off at the end,” said Porter, 20, an economics major at Spelman.

The contest was the culmination of Goldman Sachs’ HBCU Possibilities Program, a semester-long virtual curriculum where students learn about fundamental financial concepts. The students are exposed to different career paths in finance, meet with mentors from Goldman Sachs and then compete in the final case study. All the participants in the program also receive $10,000 scholarships.

In early 2021, Goldman Sachs committed $25 million over five years to the program. Over the past three years, it has awarded $15 million in grants and scholarships to the participating students and schools. The program is part of the bank’s larger goal to double campus analyst hiring from Historically Black Colleges and Universities by 2025.

Dandoo, 19, is an economics major. She is also an entrepreneur and first heard about the Goldman Sachs program her freshman year. She was set on participating the next chance she got.

“When I started my first business, I saw that there was a need for financial literacy as well as just a need for business acumen for young Black women entrepreneurs,” Dandoo said.

This year, 150 students from Spelman and 11 other HBCUs participated in the program. The students were split into 31 teams for the case study competition, where they were given a briefing about a client, cosmetics and personal care giant L’Oreal, and had to identify a problem in the business and present a solution.

Spelman and the other top teams were flown to New York and presented at the Goldman Sachs headquarters on Monday. The Spelman students pitched a strategic acquisition of a beauty company to L’Oreal, though they were not allowed to discuss the specifics of the proposal.

The judges included the chief transformation officer at L’Oreal, Goldman Sachs’ chief of staff and other bank executives.

Spelman has a history of winning at this competition. A team from the school won the inaugural contest in 2021, and last year Spelman students placed second. The school has now gotten a total of $2.5 million in prize winnings to go toward scholarships.

Goldman Sachs said in a release that, to date, it has successfully recruited 25 students from the HBCU programming to join the firm as 2023 new hires or summer interns. Nearly all the members from this year’s winning Spelman team plan to apply for internships in the next cycle.

And the students said they feel empowered by their experience pitching to some of the biggest banking executives in the world. After winning, they were taken to the New York Stock Exchange by Goldman Sachs, the heart of Wall Street.

“It was really inspiring,” Dandoo said. “I’m really honored to be so young, but so brilliant, enough to be in that room.”

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