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Belles snag second in CPA case competition

Jillian Barwick | Thursday, December 6, 2012

Four students from Saint Mary’s College brought home a second-place finish from the annual Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) Case Study Competition, which took place in Indianapolis on Nov. 16.

Senior Chelsea Pacconi and juniors Christina Boesler, Christine Czajkowski and Morgan Mlinac made up the team of students, and Mary Ann Merryman, accounting and business professor from the College, held the position of faculty advisor for the competition.
The 2012 competition is the ninth year students from Saint Mary’s have participated in the CPA competition, Merryman said. She has been the advisor for the previous years as well.

“I think that I have seen an increased confidence on the part of the student team members. The Saint Mary›s team has been in the finals seven of the past eight years,” Merryman said. “The students are definitely not cocky, but when you put the time and effort into the competition that they have, you know that you are prepared.”

Pacconi, who took on the mentor role for the group, participated in the competition last year as a junior and stayed on as a senior to help the students new to the competition.

“[Being a mentor] was definitely a transition from my role last year,” Pacconi said. “Being the mentor for the team taught me how valuable last year was. I had great mentors who led me in the right direction of how to mentor the team.”

Pacconi noticed how much experience in this competition makes a difference from one year to the next for the group.

“Christina, Christine and Morgan really challenged me to be the best I could be and to set the example of how each member should work toward the project,” Pacconi said.

As far as selection of team members, Merryman said the process is a contribution of her input as well as the input of the students who participated the year before and would like to join the team again.

“We try to select students who will work well together and who are willing to make the commitment,” she said. “I was extremely impressed with and proud of this year’s team. They went from knowing virtually nothing about a very technical topic (business acquisitions) to giving a professional presentation on the topic in less than a month’s time.”

The competition itself presents participants with a case study that required the Indiana college teams to compile a package supporting or rejecting the acquisition of one company by another. The teams were given very little information about either company and were instructed to draft and document any assumptive details necessary.

“The competition was very difficult. In addition to regular work for classes, the case demanded a lot of work in a short amount of time,” Pacconi said. “I can relate the case to the Saint Mary’s business senior composition, although that is prepared over a semester and this only allows 10 days.”

For the topic this year, Pacconi said she and her team felt it was particularly difficult because none of the students had firsthand experience relating to this topic.

“Also, when submitting the paper and preparing the presentation, our team did not know what other teams’ approaches would be including their assumptions and even the formation of the teams,” Pacconi said.

Overall, Pacconi and Merryman were happy with the results of the competition and the students that participated.

“The competition is an enormous amount of work but it is well worth it in terms of the value gained from the experience,” Merryman said. “Every year the students amaze me all over again.  The competition is truly one of the highlights of the academic year for me.”
Pacconi said she felt proud of the accomplishments she and her team members made during the time they worked together and know that the challenges the group faced were a great learning experience.

“It was a little disappointing not to win first place again this year, but I don’t think there was anything our team could have done differently to win and that’s all I could ask for,” Pacconi said. “I compare this year’s competition to the movie ‘Bring It On.’ So many challenges were overcome to make it to the finals and then to get second place was truly rewarding.”