A team of KPU business students have returned from a national conference where they won the ACHIEVE accounting case competition. The conference was hosted by Ryerson University and took place in Toronto between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.
The KPU team, which is the first from B.C. to win the competition, was led by accounting instructor Sam Newton, and consisted of KPU students Dilsharn Kaur Mokha, Sam Garzitto, Taran Takhar, and Henry Flowers. The students took home the first prize after competing against teams from several other schools including the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto.
The team also took home an extra award for having the best utilization of social media during the conference, which they credit mostly to Mokha.
“It was very much a team effort,” says Flowers, who explains that the team practiced by analyzing up to three cases per week. “It is insane how far along our team has come.”
The team received a cash prize and an achievement plaque. In addition, KPU’s name was engraved into the ACHIEVE trophy which displays the names of all the schools that have won previous competitions.
The competition featured teams of undergraduates from schools across Canada who were asked to analyze and present a business case that could impress a panel of judges. In keeping with the competition’s theme, the teams were tasked with finding ways for the company in the case to increase its corporate social responsibility and support more environmentally sustainable practices.
“It wasn’t your typical kind of case,” says Flowers. “It was a not-for-profit company that was a subsidiary of a large cement company in India, and they needed guidance on the best sustainability framework to adopt.”
Flowers says that the team suggested a different value assessment method which uses a score that includes non-monetary factors like greenhouse gas emissions and stakeholder quality of life survey results. He adds that KPU’s accounting curriculum gave the team an advantage over other schools due to its relatively higher focus on case studies.
“I want to give a shout out to KPU, I feel like it definitely did prepare us, especially with having a focus on cases within our curriculum,” he says. “We don’t focus on sustainability accounting, but we do have a strong focus on cases and looking at the practical applications. It’s one of the benefits of being at a polytechnic school, and I think it gave us a step above some of the other institutions.”
“We had, in total, 90 minutes from when we were handed the case to when we entered the room and started to present,” says Samuel Garzitto, another member of the accounting team. “We were asked to look at a company and let them know how they could be more responsible with their decisions—focusing on their bottom-line but also the impact that it gives to the environment, to the real world.”
Garazitto believes that supporting corporate social responsibility is becoming more and more important to the future of the accounting industry in Canada.
“It’s about how we can put some sort of figure on helping out this planet or providing benefit to the people around us, which is very hard to do,” he says. “But I think that’s essentially what corporate responsibility is.”