UNLV Lee Business School Team Wins National Accounting Competition

Dec. 22, 2014

Four Lee Business School accounting students took top honors and a $5,000 prize at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Accounting Competition on Dec. 19 in Washington, D.C.

The cash award will benefit the UNLV Department of Accounting in the Lee Business School. Students had already split a $10,000 prize for reaching the finals of the competition.

The Accounting REBEL-ation team bested North Carolina State University and the University of Southern Indiana, whose teams took second ($3,000) and third places ($2,000), respectively. UNLV team members are: Annegenelle Figueroa, Kayla Shim and Brett Sebastian, all seniors, and Kevin Curry, a junior.

The annual AICPA contest attracts teams from the top accounting programs in the nation and tests students’ ability to act as management accountants and make finance, strategy, operations and management decisions. The 5th annual contest drew 140 entrants.

“I was extremely impressed with the level of detail these talented students put into their plans, as well as their polished presentation skills,” Bill Balhoff, CPA, CGMA, immediate past chairman of the AICPA, said in a press release.

“The AICPA Competition provided students a great opportunity to understand the crucial role management accountants play, guiding critical business decisions and driving performance within companies,” said Balhoff, who served as a final round judge.

Figueroa said the UNLV team gained confidence and polished their presentation through hours of practice.

“I am very proud of what we achieved after all the effort our team exerted throughout this competition,” said Figueroa, team captain. “Our weekend and Monday night meetings paid off.”

Danny Siciliano, lecturer and faculty advisor of the team, said the students performed exceptionally well for their first competition, against teams that had been to the finals in recent years.

“The students displayed a significant level of teamwork and interpersonal chemistry. They did an exceptional job answering very difficult questions from a seasoned panel of judges representing various aspects of accounting,” he said.

“This outstanding team showed the excellence of our business students at UNLV.”

The competition began in September when the UNLV REBEL-ation team wrote their recommendations for a cost accounting system for Humble Pies Inc., a fictional bakery. The system was designed to better track and budget the manufacturing costs of making pies.

UNLV’s team was named a top 15 semifinalist in October. They advanced to the finals in November after creating a five-minute video to compare and contrast two capital expenditure options for the company.

In the finals, the students determined which of two merger and acquisition opportunities Humble Pies should pursue and presented to a panel of accounting executives. They recommended expanding the business by acquiring another bakery rather than a steakhouse to reduce costs and create a superior financial profile over a 10-year period.

Students were judged on technical details, creativity and persuasiveness. The judges lauded UNLV’s students for their real-world application of business, Siciliano said.

“The students acted as strategic business advisors rather than just focusing on the accounting numbers,” he said.

For more information about the competition, visit AICPA.