On March 12th, 2016, Team In-Credit-Ble of Camosun College (Vassili Angelblazer, Tyler Bordeleau, David Hilborn, and Bryan Johnson) participated in the CPABC Case study Competition. Sitting amongst our peers at the awards gala, we were both nervous and excited to hear the results. Since neither of us had done this competition before we had no idea what to expect.
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia organise an annual Case Study competition for accounting students and aspiring future CPAs. This year 30 teams from colleges and universities across British Columbia applied. For a team to qualify they needed to have between three and four members; half of the team needed to be 1st and 2nd year students, and the other half can be 3rd and 4th year students.
The competition is split into two rounds, the first is a video submission of a business case study, and then second and final round is the live case study in Vancouver.
In order to win, the teams needed to apply the enabling competencies which are essential to the CPA profession:
- Professional and ethical behaviour,
- Problem-solving and decision-making,
- Teamwork and leadership.
Only eight of the thirty teams who applied made it into the final round.
The first round of the competition was in fact very tough. We had 48 hours to solve, record, edit, and upload our solution to YouTube. This was the first time anyone on our team had participated in the CPA case competition and so we did not know what to expect from ourselves and our competitors. We did our absolute best with the time constraints and learned a lot just from having gone through the process of solving this case.
The case itself was on managing Manchester United; surprisingly, the case turned out to have less numbers than we expected and a greater focus on managerial and practical business skills. However, we were still able to apply the analytical skills we learned in our accounting courses to find problem solutions.
Our school and faculty were very supportive of our team. Once we learned that our team made it through the first round, we scheduled a practice presentation with a panel of two of our professors: Timothy Kemp and Marilyn Drews. Tim and Marilyn asked us very difficult questions and provided feedback on our presentation. Without their coaching and mentoring we would not have performed as well as we did.
The last round was hosted at the Simon Fraser University Harbour Center. CPABC provided us with beautiful breakout rooms with whiteboards and big floor to ceiling windows; it was a fantastic environment to work in. Our three hours flew by quickly, there was no delay in presenting. We were thrown in front of the panel of judges without hesitation, and grilled ferociously for our deliberations. The judges Adam Garvin, Anson Lo, Linda Lucas, Jamal Nazari, and Cheng-Yan Tay did a wonderful job of keeping us on our toes, thank you.
The awards were held at the Delta Suites Hotel, there was excellent food and executive professionals from local accounting businesses to talk to. Our team sat and spoke with Bryan Hack from Tacit Management Consulting. Getting to speak with Bryan was invaluable; he had interesting insights into the customer service side of accounting. I learned that an ability to present materials and solutions to a client is no less important than the technical accounting skills we learn at school. In class we learn the skills of our profession but we do not often talk about how to work with people. Customer service has an important role in the work of a CPA.
The long awaited moment arrived, Anna Belyaeva (CPABC Business Development Coordinator) called the winning teams to the stage. When team In-credit-ble was called for the second place trophy; it was a mixture of excitement, surprise and pride. We committed ourselves to producing our best effort and it is always a great feeling to be rewarded for hard work.
I am very grateful for the opportunity and support both from Camosun College and from CPABC in helping us participate and thrive at this event. This was a major learning experience for me, it connected the dots between everything I’ve learned in class with the practical applications of the real world. The CPABC Case Study is a great challenge for students wanting to pursue the CPA designation. I look forward to forming a team and competing again next year.
Camosun College, 2nd year Accounting Student