Posts Tagged ‘Joe LeBlanc’

Top traders converge on Tulane for Energy Trading Competition

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Student traders from Rutgers, the University of Texas at Austin, Tulane and Northwestern took the top honors at the 2010 Tulane Energy Trading Competition, but according to some participants, the biggest reward for taking part in the competition wasn’t the cash prizes or professional trading products awarded to the winners. It was the chance to rub shoulders with an all-star lineup of industry professionals.

Twenty-eight of the nation’s top student traders faced off in this year’s Tulane Energy Trading Competition, which in just two years has become one of the leading events for both students and industry recruiters.

“You got to meet the people who actually do this for a living, and they got to see how you perform in real-world situations,” says Tulane MBA student Michael Grubbs, who placed fourth in the competition. “I met everybody from natural gas traders to industry executives to a scheduler at a refinery and got good-quality one-on-one contact with dozens of industry professionals. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I’ll start getting some phone calls and we’ll see if we can turn this into a job offer.”

In just two years, the Tulane Energy Trading Competition has grown into one of the leading annual events for both students seeking careers in trading and energy executives seeking the best young talent. This year, 174 students from 33 universities took part in the remote round of the competition—more than twice the number of last year’s participants—and more than 40 industry executives attended the live final round and served as guest judges.

Freeman School student Michael Grubbs (MBA ’11) won fourth place in this year's competition.

“The growth of the competition, both in terms of student interest and industry participation, speaks volumes about its quality,” says Joe LeBlanc, professor of practice at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business and organizer of the competition. “Students are eager to demonstrate their skills in a real-world trading environment, and industry executives are interested in seeing firsthand how potential recruits handle the pressures and manage risk.”

The final round of the competition took place on Saturday (Oct. 23) in the Freeman School’s Trading Center, a state-of-the-art simulated trading floor equipped with industry-leading software, hardware and analytical tools from the CME Group, Trading Technologies, Thomson Reuters and LIM. Over the course of one extraordinarily intense day, the top 28 students from the remote round put their skills to the test trading live natural gas futures and refinery crack spreads using a proprietary simulation that industry professionals call the most realistic energy-trading exercise available in a university setting.

Tulane’s energy trading competition is unique for its strong emphasis on risk management and responsible trading. While other competitions determine prize winners solely on the basis of profits and losses, Tulane ranks participants according to risk-adjusted PnL and puts the ultimate decision in the hands of a panel of judges, industry experts charged with critically assessing the quality of the students’ strategies and how they handle the pressure.

For the first time, the competition's judges participated in the refinery crack spread session, adding volatility to the market and testing the traders' skills.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking for the person who made the most money,” explains Berney Aucoin, a vice president with Sequent Energy Management, who served as one of this year’s judges. “I was looking for someone who made money but also managed risk accordingly and demonstrated the ability to critically think through situations they weren’t prepared for. Getting into the students’ heads and understanding their critical thinking process was really enlightening.”

“It was one of the best, most realistic simulations I’ve ever seen,” adds competition judge Mike Henson, manager of infrastructure strategy with Chevron Products Co. “It was intense and focused, and that’s exactly the way life is out on the trading desk. Seeing how the students dealt with the pressure was just incredibly dynamic.”

This year, the competition added a new wrinkle to its trading sessions with the judges taking on the position of heating oil buyers in the refinery crack spread session and actively participating in the market.

“Having the judges trade with the students added more volatility to the market, and volatility is a trader’s best friend,” says Steve Landry, senior vice president at Marathon Oil, another of this year’s judges.  “Volatility creates opportunities for the students, and we as judges were able to see how they responded to that volatility, so I think it was a great idea.”

Rodrigo Polezel, a student from Rutgers University, won first place and a prize package of nearly $100,000.

Rutgers University student Rodrigo Polezel, who won first place in this year’s event, says the competition’s use of the Tulane Energy Risk Index—which penalized students who took on excessive risk—helped to make the trading sessions more representative of the real world.

“In real life, if you lose more than 5 percent of your capital, you’re going to get fired, and that’s what this competition showed you,” Polezel says. “The index definitely made me be more aware of my risks.”

In addition to Polezel, the top three finishers also included Robert Ettinger of the University of Texas at Austin, who earned second-place honors, and Alex Santos of Rutgers, who won third place.

Each of the three top finishers received a prize package valued at nearly $100,0000, including cash prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500, a one-year license for Thomson Reuters Eikon, a one-year license for LIM’s MIMIC and XMIM software, and a one-year license for the Imagine Trading System.

For finishing fourth and fifth in the competition, Grubbs and Northwestern University student Rory Sandstrom each received a one-year license for Thomson Reuters Eikon and LIM’s MIMIC and XMIM software.

The 2010 Tulane Energy Trading Competition was underwritten by the CME Group and sponsored by Trading Technologies, Thomson Reuters, LIM, Imagine Software, Entergy, Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), Mirant, Sequent Energy and Accenture.

Tulane Energy Trading Competition sponsors

Competition organizer Joe LeBlanc, seated, with some of the 40 energy and trading professionals who attended this year’s competition as judges or event sponsors.

For more information about the competition and the complete list of winners, visit

To see more photos from the competition, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.

Students face off in inaugural Tulane Energy Trading Competition

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Twenty-eight of the nation’s best student traders met up in New Orleans on Nov. 14 to test their skills trading simulated live oil and gas futures, but unlike most competitions, the winners of this event weren’t necessarily the ones with the biggest profits. (more…)

Freeman to host first energy trading competition

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The Freeman School has earned a national reputation in recent years for its use of cutting-edge technology to teach energy trading. Next month, Freeman takes another step toward establishing itself as one of the nation’s leading institutions for the study of energy with the first Tulane Energy Trading Competition.

The Tulane Energy Trading Competition will take place on Nov. 13 and 14 in the Freeman School’s trading center. Twenty-eight students from five top business schools will travel to New Orleans to put their skills to the test in a unique competition with highly coveted internships at top trading firms on the line.

Trading Center

Twenty-eight students from five top business schools will visit the Freeman School's trading floor in November to participate in the first Tulane Energy Trading Competition.

What makes the Tulane competition unique is that participants will be judged not solely on profit but on risk-adjusted returns and the ability to articulate and execute a logical trading strategy, a crucial distinction according to Joe LeBlanc, assistant director of the Tulane Energy Institute and organizer of the event.

“The idea was to create a trading competition that is more aligned with what employers want in the marketplace,” says LeBlanc. “We think that by adjusting for risk, combining several different performance measures and using the best trading software from Trading Technologies and Thomson Reuters, we’re creating a competition that rewards responsible trading and more accurately reflects the way trading is truly practiced in today’s energy firms.”

The competition began on Oct. 12 with a two-week remote phase for 21 teams from 13 business schools. Each team was given a mock $100,000 to trade and was required to execute at least five trades per day. While most trading competitions reward the team or individuals who generate the highest profit, the Tulane Energy Trading Competition uses a method for measuring investment risk known as the Ulcer Performance Index to penalize teams that take on too much risk.

At the end of the two weeks, the members of the top seven teams qualified to participate as individuals in the final round in New Orleans.

Another innovation of the competition is the prize structure. Rather than cash prizes, the Tulane Energy Trading Competition will offer internships with Webster Capital on the CME/NYMEX, Luminant Energy and Mirant Energy to the top three participants. While most trading competitions award cash prizes to students, LeBlanc says that sends the wrong message to the public at a time when many people blame high energy prices on speculation.

“We think awarding internships is the right thing to do because students want jobs and internships more than anything,” says LeBlanc. “It also supports the mission of the Freeman School by providing an opportunity for students to further their education through an opportunity with a top energy trading firm.”

The Tulane Energy Trading Competition is presented by the Tulane Energy Institute and the Tulane Energy Club and sponsored by CME Group, Trading Technologies and Thomson Reuters. For more information about the competition, visit or contact Joe LeBlanc at 504-314-2662 or

ConocoPhillips donates $25K to Energy Institute

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

At an Oct. 27 reception in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II, ConocoPhillips presented a gift of $25,000 to the Tulane Energy Institute. The gift, one of the first in ConocoPhillips’ Faculty Sponsorship Program, will support Joe LeBlanc, who teaches the Freeman School’s energy trading courses.

Left to right, James McFarland, executive director of the Tulane Energy Institute; Geoff Parker, director of the institute; Angelo DeNisi, dean of the Freeman School; Frank Dodaro, manager of pricing processes at ConocoPhillips; Sherri B. Thomas, director of campus recruiting at ConocoPhillips; David Velasquez (BSM '09), who was recently hired for the ConocoPhillips training program; Joe LeBlanc, clinical professor of business; and Peggy Babin, associate dean.

ConocoPhillips targeted the Tulane Energy Institute as part of its effort to build strategic relationships with schools whose programs meet the recruiting needs of its commodity trading business.

“ConocoPhillips is pleased to have as one of its first recipients in the Faculty Sponsorship Program Prof. Joe LeBlanc and the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University,” said Sherri B. Thomas, director of campus recruiting at ConocoPhillips. “We are actively building strategic relationships with professors and universities that have courses and programs that support the recruiting needs of our Commodity Trading business, and we believe building a solid relationship with the program at Tulane will have a positive impact on our recruiting efforts and our business success.”

LeBlanc has taught Energy Fundamentals and Trading at the Freeman School since 2007, and he has been instrumental in enhancing the course with industry-leading simulation, trading and financial software from Advantage Futures, FEA, Oracle, Reuters and Trading Technologies.

CNBC highlights Freeman’s trading room

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

In a recent news segment, CNBC highlighted the Freeman School’s trading room and its unique approach to training students for careers in energy trading.

“They may be a long way from the NYMEX in New Orleans and at Tulane University,” said CNBC’s Rebecca Jarvis, “but that is where the next generation of traders is training to take on today’s pit bulls.”

Rebecca Jarvis and students in Freeman’s Energy Fundamentals and Trading course.

The segment focused on Freeman’s Energy Fundamentals and Trading course, which uses the Reuters Market Data System and Reuters’ ReplayService to replay actual historic commodity data in real time to simulate true-to-life market conditions. Freeman is the first and only business school to combine industry standard applications from Reuters and Trading Technologies with the ReplayService in the classroom. Using the system, instructors can program data to simulate virtually any market condition they choose, whether it’s the events leading up to Hurricane Katrina or the aftermath of the latest announcement from OPEC.

“So many people are coming out of school without the basic knowledge of the fundamentals and then how to move from that into a trading strategy and to be able to execute it,” said Joe LeBlanc, adjunct professor of business and instructor in the course. “This group has a leg up with that combination.”

To see the segment in its entirety, visit

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