Marfatia and her Kogod class of 2025 teammates—Margaret Coghlan, Begum Nisa Taktak, and Nicole Jean-Pierre—were tasked with analyzing the business model of home fitness giant Peloton. The Office of Career Engagement selected this company in consultation with the Kogod finance department. Peloton achieved rapid growth during the COVID-19 pandemic but has faced financial challenges in recent months, marked by layoffs and strategy shifts.
Relying on a personal rapport and incorporating feedback from previous, less successful case competitions—including a Kogod-hosted fall 2022 event in which the team failed to place—the quartet employed what it deemed a holistic approach to its analysis in presenting to a judging panel of AU alumni and current Goldman Sachs team members: James DeLucia, SPA/Kogod ‘13; David Dubner, Kogod ‘97; and Wael Younan, Kogod ‘05.
It's a privilege to return to our alma mater and speak to the many career paths that exist at Goldman Sachs and the exciting ways we drive value for our clients worldwide.”
The presentation they awarded first place focused on the heavily up-front nature of Peloton consumers’ spending with the company. Marfatia, Coghlan, Taktak, and Jean-Pierre recommended the company combat those challenges by selling its products to larger gyms that, in turn, could offer its customers premium membership tiers with access to Peloton equipment.
The group further scrutinized Peloton’s public relations response to a fatal 2021 incident involving one of its treadmills. This accident recently landed the company one of the largest fines in Consumer Product Safety Commission history.
The experience was, for Coghlan, the latest evidence that her immersive experience at Kogod has helped prepare her for the professional world.
“It’s so cool to get the opportunity to analyze companies that are publicly known and feel like you are adding valuable insight toward their operations,” Coghlan said.
“Case competitions like this one have taught us to take advantage of each other’s strengths, be more confident in our ideas, and present them to an audience,” Taktak added.
Among the team members’ unique strengths: Jean-Pierre serves as a peer advisor with the Kogod Center for Professionalism and Communications, which coaches and advises students preparing for pitches, presentations, case competitions, and more.
To that end, Jean-Pierre credits the success of her and her classmates-turned-colleagues, in part, to their ability to channel their good chemistry on a personal level to a boardroom-type setting—not an easy feat, said Caron Martinez, the center’s director.
“Very few of us are born public speakers, especially in business,” Martinez explained.
By cultivating an openness to feedback, students can practice, seek our coaching, and then revise to improve.”
For Marfatia, it’s that very improvement from the group’s previous, less successful case competitions that makes this victory over four other teams entered all the more sweet.
“Sometimes, when you lose, it’s easy to get discouraged,” she said. “It showed that at a certain point, your work will reward itself.”
Following the case competition, 55 students attended an ice cream and information reception, an opportunity to receive professional advice and insights from the Goldman Sachs team. Conversations focused on the importance of teamwork, work-life balance, and developing as a well-rounded individual.
Ultimately, the combination of hands-on consulting exposure and critical networking between students and Goldman Sachs-affiliated alums made for precisely the experience Kogod’s assistant dean of career services, Andrea Carpenter, hopes to facilitate.
“The Office of Career Engagement is grateful for the support Goldman Sachs has shown Kogod and AU students over the years,” she said, citing past New York City finance trips and informational sessions as additional examples of collaboration between Kogod and Goldman Sachs.
“These experiences are invaluable as our students prepare for opportunities in finance and beyond,” Carpenter said.