Is accounting exciting?
Depends on whom you ask.
For five Gabelli School juniors, the answer is yes — especially now that they’ve won the Fordham University round of PwC’s “xTAX” competition.
PwC, one of the Big Four accountancy firms, created xTAX to give students exposure to real-world tax issues. In teams of five, students research a tax-policy issue that tests their critical thinking, team-building and presentation abilities. Success requires skill, determination and perseverance.
Already in pursuit of bachelor’s degrees in accounting, Chiara Furfaro (GSB ’14), Sarah Hill (GSB ’14), Roxy Derrington (GSB ’14), Mojdeh Ghanbarian (GSB ’14) and Stephanie Leso (GSB ’14) didn’t hesitate to jump in.
“We are all in the integrated core [curriculum] together, so we know each other pretty well,” Chiara said. “We are a motivated group of girls who had the willpower to strive and succeed in a competition like this.”
With two weeks to research and prepare, the group was asked to develop an in-depth analysis of the tax, economic and political ramifications facing two made-up countries, Melawia and Niawan, and decide to which country a fictional company should relocate some of its operations. They considered issues such as tax-rate differences between the two nations, growth potential, and voter confidence in financial and economic conditions. They felt Malawia was the better choice.
After presenting their solution to a panel of PwC judges, the group received not only the honor of winning at Fordham University, but also $1,000. A video of their presentation has gone to the PwC office in Washington, D.C., where it’ll be reviewed along with recordings of all the other university winners from around the country. If the Fordham girls are chosen as one of the five best nationwide, they’ll get an additional $10,000, plus a chance to compete in D.C. against the four other finalists for the top prize.
Asked what she got out of this opportunity, Chiara said her presentation skills significantly improved. “I thought that I might have forgotten some of the things I learned,” she said. “Instead, as I practiced, I began to trust myself, and eventually felt comfortable presenting in front of my group, and ultimately in front of the judges.”
More importantly, the group members gained more insight about accounting as a profession. In the fast-paced environment of professional services, Chiara explained, “to solve these narrowly defined business problems, it’s best to collaborate with a team.” The five students’ future careers will surely benefit from their strengthened skills in teamwork, decision-making and presentation.