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UNLV Lee Business School Team Wins National Accounting Competition

Students rack up $15,000 with their management accounting skills and analysis of fictional pie company.

Campus News  |  Dec 23, 2014  |  By Karyn S. Hollingsworth
Members of the accounting REBEL-ation team pose with gieant check

Members of the accounting REBEL-ation team receive a portion of their earnings after winning the American Institute of CPAs Accounting Competition. Pictured from left: Annegenelle Figueroa, Danny Siciliano (faculty advisor), Brett Sebastian, Kevin Curry, and Kayla Shim.

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 school's accounting department. The students already had 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. 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.

The competition began in September when the UNLV REBEL-ation team members 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 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. To reduce costs and create a strong financial profile over a 10-year period, they recommended expanding the business by acquiring another bakery rather than a steakhouse.

Figueroa, team captain, 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," she said.

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," he said. "This outstanding team showed the excellence of our business students at UNLV."

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