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  • Accountancy Students Win National Case Competition


    Photo: Illinois Case Team

    Photo: Illinois Case Team

    (Click for full-size image)

    More than 2500 students from 42 schools competed but only one team of 5 ILLINOIS accountancy students walked away winners of a national competition sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the world's largest professional services firm.

    The five-member team was the youngest in last weekend's finals in New York City, which requires students to solve complex, real-world accounting and auditing problems.

    Sophomore team member Kassandra Hasty described the key to her team's success, "Our personal relationships with each other and our advisors made all the difference. I knew everyone before the competition, but we grew closer throughout the competition. I think our bond as well as our teamwork was evident to the judges."

    The case involved a real-life problem that many companies are facing right now and the recent push to be environmentally friendly. It required us to think about many different aspects of the problem and the effect that each of the options would have on the company, the environment, the market, and society as a whole. The diversity of skills shared by the team allowed us to tackle the problem successfully."

    Other members of the ILLINOIS team are juniors Julia Buhnerkempe, Jared Marchiando and Adam West, and sophomore Allison LaBelle. All are accountancy majors and members of the College of Business Honors Program.

    John Hedeman, an assistant dean who directs the College honors program, is the team's academic advisor and accompanied students to New York.

    "The students demonstrated the best professional qualities in their presentation," said Hedeman. "They made their case by offering creative, timely, and thoughtful solutions for the judges to consider. The judges, in turn, challenged our team with the toughest questions in the competition. The students defended their conclusion with confidence and vigor in a demonstration of teamwork that impressed the judges. I am very proud of them."

    The ILLINOIS team won a campus competition in November then submitted a video of its winning presentation that was among five finalists chosen by PricewaterhouseCoopers, earning $10,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to New York.

    Finalists were scored based on critical thinking, presentation skills, teamwork and responses to questions from a panel of judges who challenged their solutions. Other finalists were Hampton University, LaSalle University, Louisiana State University and Villanova University.

    "It was the second straight year that ILLINOIS students competed in the finals of the annual accounting contest," according to Tim Reierson, PWC lead relationship partner and a team advisor. "I am thrilled with the outstanding team chemistry and unbridled enthusiasm of the ILLINOIS team. They really took advantage of the advice they received and worked diligently throughout the competition. When they needed to give their best performance, they rose to the occasion and delivered at the highest level. We are all proud of their achievement."

    Lawrence DeBrock, dean of the College, expressed his pride in the group as they reflect the values the faculty and the College. "These excellent students considered the broad implications for the company, the environment, the market and society, which is the core of our strength. It puts us out in front as a college, leading us and those who look to us for leadership. This achievement shows all that we are on the right track.

    For more information, please contact:

    Barlow LeVold, Assistant Director of Communications
    College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    (217) 244-8146

    About the College of Business

    Internationally recognized as one of the leading business schools, the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has outstanding programs in accountancy, business administration, and finance. The College enrolls approximately 2,800 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students in MBA, master's, and doctoral programs.

    About PricewaterhouseCoopers

    PricewaterhouseCoopers provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 155,000 people in 153 countries across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice.

    Additional Student Comments

    Jared Marchiando

    "It was tough but our faculty advisor, John Hedeman, as well as the Chicago PWC staff and Partners did a wonderful job getting us prepared."

    Allison LaBelle

    "What I want to stress is that this was truly a group effort that every single person put their heart into. My favorite memory from the trip to New York was not giving the best presentation we had ever given but it was the moment just after University of Illinois was announced as the winner. Before I could even process the words, Tim and Ken were up in the air cheering. I have never seen two men jump so high, especially not in suits and not on a basketball court. The spirit and enthusiasm running through Tim and Ken was extremely contagious. Everyone was quick to jump up after them, and we all started laughing, crying, smiling and just taking it all in."

    "To me, this award just proves once again how lucky I am to be here at the University of Illinois and part of the College of Business Honors Program."

    Julia Buhnerkempe

    "When our name was announced, I have never seen such an outburst of excitement and pride. The PWC reps were already in the air, and the faces I could see exuded a passion and excitement unprecedented in my personal experience. It was Sunday afternoon before I could stop smiling."

    "This award is not something I see as a personal achievement; it is more a reflection of the quality of education at the Illinois, the support and encouragement of Dean Hedeman and the Chicago PWC office, and the dynamic of five energetic, optimistic, and ambitious students working together. The feeling of pride is overwhelming and I cannot thank those involved enough for all they have done. This experience has taught me the true power of teamwork. Without each member's intelligence, skills, passion, and perspective we would never have made it so far."

    UIUC College of Business Department of Accountancy