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Accounting Foursome Advances to National Competition Final Round

Moravian students in final round of Institute of Management Accountants case completion

Accounting StudentsBethlehem, Pa., May 8, 2014—Moravian College’s accounting team of Dan Aquilino ’14, Thomas Lazaro ’14, Cristina Mazariegos-Castano ’14 and Danielle Zimmerman ’14 will travel to the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) 95th Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to compete in the final round of the IMA global student case competition. As one of four finalists, the team of students, which is advised by John Rossi III, associate professor of accounting, receives a monetary award of $3,000 for travel. The winning team will receive an additional $2,000.

Zimmerman credited the student group for utilizing one another’s skills, describing each member as one might label a music ensemble – or, dare we say, superhero team. There was Lazaro, “the creative,” Aquilino, “the industry expert,” Mazariegos-Castano, “the Excel pro,” and Zimmerman, “the number cruncher.” The seniors “worked together to create a great solution,” she explained.

“This achievement, reaching the competition’s final four, really speaks well not only of our hardworking students, but also of the quality of our accounting program,” Rossi added.

According to Rossi, the competition involved student teams responding to a case (published in Strategic Finance), and preparing and submitting a presentation. This year’s case highlighted a trucking company.

All case analysis submissions went through a preliminary evaluation, judged by IMA members. The top four teams were then invited to compete at the annual conference in Minneapolis, presenting before judges from the industry, as well as academia. The students will be evaluated on technical content, presentation skills, case analysis style, presentation organization, and strength of recommendations and conclusions based on case requirements. The final ranking will be determined and announced at the conference.

“This very exciting competition presents students with real-life challenges and the opportunity to analyze a case, develop a solution, present it to an audience, and receive recognition for their efforts,” Rossi said.

Rossi reasoned the Moravian team likely set itself apart by including an introduction of hedging (derivatives) into the solution and how they could be used as a possible solution. The professor’s expectations for his student team continue to rises as the group advances further and further in the competition. “When I started out, my goal was to just to enter the competition, but now I realize that winning is really an attainable goal,” he said.

Rossi has worked with the students to prepare them for the presentation, focusing their attention on making strong eye contact with judges and not relying on notes. It’s a good skill for job interviews, he added.

Aquilino sees the correlation between preparation for competition and preparation for the real world. “This competition has prepared me for my future career because it was a real life experience about project and time management, which is important in the business field,” the senior said. Added Zimmerman, “It was rewarding to use accounting and finance skills from the classroom to solve a business problem that would be encountered in the real world.”

Through this competition, students have also learned how to conduct research on complex issues, while translating their outcomes simply, yet effectively to judges, Rossi explained. “I commend our students because they worked hard to research their conclusion and make it to the final four,” he said.

While the visit to Minnesota is a business trip of sorts, the Moravian contingent does plan to squeeze in some relaxation. After noting how excited she is for the competition, Zimmerman added, “I can't wait to go to the indoor roller coaster in the Mall of America.”

The final case competition will be held on Sunday, June 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. IMA is the worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals in business, consisting of more than 65,000 members.

Moravian College is a private coeducational liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college and the first to educate women. Moravian emphasizes the deliberate integration of a broad-based liberal arts curriculum with hands-on learning experiences to effectively prepare its 1,600 students, not just for jobs, but for successful careers. Moravian College excels at transforming good students into highly competent graduates that are ready to enter the workplace with confidence or shine in graduate school. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.