Members of the CU Denver Business School team that advanced in Trading Challenge pose in JP Morgan Center for Commodities

Successfully navigating today’s financial markets takes uncommon nuance, experience and strategic knowledge. Two CU Denver Business School teams competing in the 2014 CME Group Commodity Trading Challenge have found the ideal mentor in finance instructor Gavan Duemke.

Largely thanks to Duemke’s insights, one of the teams has advanced to the final round of the Trading Challenge. The team turned their preliminary round simulated account of $100,000 into $125,000 in three weeks—a 25 percent return—good enough to place 31st out of 400 teams.

‘Gavan helped us make those gains’

“There is a lot that’s due to the strategy that Gavan helped us develop,” said team member Kirill Buzinov. “It’s not just luck, otherwise we would have lost a lot. What Gavan taught us helped us to make those gains.”

The undergraduate team—which also includes Blaine Stiner, Dylan Maney, Michael Venter and Uranchimeg Olonbayar—is in the 39-team final round, given a simulated $250,000 to trade over two weeks.

Duemke mentored CU Denver teams in their rookie Trading Challenge runs last year, but none reached the final round. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed (this year),” he said. “It’s really the journey here that counts. These guys have learned so much from last year to what they’re doing now, it’s really incredible.”

Duemke earned an undergraduate degree in finance and economics at University of Cologne in Germany and an MBA in finance and corporate strategy at the University of Oxford. He spent six years in the German Armed Forces and worked for several companies before striking out on his own. Along with two partners he launched Della Parola Capital Management in 2005. Morningstar has awarded the firm five-star ratings in three of four of its money management strategies; those same strategies are ranked in the top 1 percent among Della Parola’s global peer groups.

At CU Denver’s Business School, where students benefit from the cutting-edge trading equipment in the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, Duemke teaches Advanced Portfolio Management (graduate level) and Trading in Financial and Commodity Markets (undergraduate).

‘Pushing the bounds’

“If you work in finance you have to understand financial markets,” Duemke said. “I love to attract students who want to work in financial markets and are looking to get in a role where they’re pushing the bounds of what is currently being done.”

Duemke’s real-world investing experience, tactical knowledge and engaged, energetic classroom style resonates with his students. “His facilitating teaching style allows students to understand the most difficult financial concepts and immediately apply them to the latest news and developments in the financial world,” Kirill said.

Duemke enjoys guiding the career aspirations of both undergraduate and graduate students. For the graduate-level students he understands the challenges faced by, say, a senior analytics professional who wants to move into a strategic level of making decisions about managing portfolios. With the undergrads, he gives them insights into financial markets. “I enjoy putting them in front of screens, letting them execute trades,” he said. “It’s more about getting them hooked on this very exciting field.”

With his classroom instruction and mentorship in the CME Trading Challenge, Duemke has helped many CU Denver students get hooked.

The other CU Denver team in the Trading Challenge didn’t quite reach the finals. “We both used the same strategies,” Kirill said. “… They just had a little less luck timing-wise (of their trades).”

Top finishers are eligible for cash prizes and a trip to Chicago to tour the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Stay tuned for how CU Denver’s team fares in the final round.

(Photo at top: Members of the Business School team that advanced in the Trading Challenge are, from left: Michael Venter, Dylan Maney, Uranchimeg Olonbayar, Kirill Buzinov and Blaine Stiner.)

(Photo in middle: Gavan Duemke teaching a class in the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities in the CU Denver Business School.)

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