Accountancy students at Clemson University have a knack for recommending, and presenting, innovative ways for an accounting giant to expand its financial services reach.
For the second straight year, a six-member team of accounting students advanced to the finals of the Deloitte Audit Innovation Campus Challenge. Advancing from an eight-team field in the Southeast Region, Clemson was one of 12 teams to qualify for the finals at Deloitte University in Dallas. Sixty-four university teams competed nationwide.
Last year, students created a “Made in America” theme for their fictitious company, Tiger Paw Shoe Co., to illustrate how a third-party could use technology to validate a company’s claim that their products were made in America.
This year’s team created another fictitious company, Tiger Paw Orange Juice Co., which similarly used technology to validate its claim that its juice was “all natural.”
“Students created a benchmark that validated the company’s claim that everything about the Tiger Paw product was ‘all natural,’ ‘’ said Terry Knause, a lecturer and the team’s faculty advisor, who has worked more than 40 years in accounting. “Students set up technological procedures that captured data from orange groves verifying no pesticides were used. Then, through GPS, the orange shipments were tracked to the processing plant.”
The Clemson team also used software applications Tableau and Argus in examining the company’s purchase documents to ensure only all-natural ingredients were used to grow the product. They also went through a year’s worth of invoices in 10 minutes to determine no preservatives or other ingredients not considered natural were used.
“The team focused on all natural because it’s transferrable to a variety of industries in many forms,” Knause added. “Providing supporting evidence that a company is compliant with being all natural lends credibility to the product and has the potential to increase sales volume.”
The Clemson team’s new service line for Deloitte was called DIETS (Deloitte Inspects, Enforces and Tests Sureness). DIETS met the competition challenge by recommending ways the “Big Four” accounting firm could expand its business beyond traditional audit services.
Sophomore accounting and finance double major Chris Breemen said the team’s charge of finding solutions to a real-world business issue was an invaluable experiential learning opportunity. But beyond the research, presentation and fielding questions from the judges, the competition provided team members benefits more far-reaching.
“The entire team had incredible networking opportunities with Deloitte employees. Through the process of qualifying for the finals, we had direct contact with recruiters and auditors from Deloitte’s offices in Charlotte, Atlanta and the Dallas-Fort Worth Area,” Chris said. “We also got great exposure to Deloitte’s culture and as it turned out, other opportunities have opened to us as a result.”
Chris will be attending a Deloitte leadership conference in his hometown of Boston this summer and has a conditional offer for an internship at the company’s audit practice there. Two other teammates will be employed full-time by Deloitte following completion of their master’s degrees and two more may be getting internship opportunities.
Other members of the team, all accounting majors, included, Evan Bartlett, junior; Caroline Clayton, senior; Shannon Gurreri, junior; Paige Leshock, junior; and Colleen McDonough, senior.
Other teams competing in the finals included, the University of South Carolina, the winner; Rutgers University, Baruch College, Baylor University, Louisiana State University, Michigan State University, Brigham Young University, University of Washington, University of Southern California, Colorado State University, and Howard University.
“Students benefit in so many ways from competitions like this that expose them to real-world problem solving,” Knause said. “But the benefits extend to networking and getting to know influential people in a company like Deloitte, which leads to career opportunities. And beyond that, students who didn’t know one another before the semester started, have forged friendships that will last a lifetime.”
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