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UofGH Business students take top prize at national accounting competition

In the first time UofGH has participated in the ACHIEVE accounting competition, business students Mojib Kazimi, Jaskaran Singh Chhabra, Marco Di Stefano and Jaylen McCurbin have taken top prize.

The annual competition is hosted by the Ryerson University Accounting Society, and draws teams from universities across the country.

Each team is given a business case to assess, find issues with, find solutions for, and prepare a PowerPoint presentation on – all, in 90 minutes.  Actually, 75 minutes – the final 15 are for presentation preparation only.

They begin in the prep room, with one calculator, one laptop, one whiteboard, and the case itself.

Photo of Achieve winners left to right: Mojib Kazimi, Jaskaran Singh Chhabra, Marco Di Stefano and Jaylen McCurbin

Marco Di Stefano:  “It was very tense.  We divided up the work, and each took on a different aspect based on individual skill.” 

Jaylen assessed overall operations of the firm, built the PowerPoint deck, and structured the solution; Jaskaran interpreted financial statements using international accounting standards; Mojib identified strategic opportunities; Marco focused on how to improve operations and audit planning. 

Jaylen:  “Given the level of detail that’s expected of us in our classes, we knew we could have done more.  We actually thought our solution might not have given enough depth.  There was a lot more we could have done, had we had more time.”

The team agrees that their true knowledge and skill were revealed during their judged presentation.

“That was the shining moment,” says Mojib. 

Marco adds:  “We were well-prepped for this.  We’ve practiced these exact kinds of cases that would be found on CPA exams in our classes [at UofGH].  The format was identical.  We just felt so comfortable.”

He continues:  “The theme of the conference was Shifting the Paradigm.  So the night before at the hotel room, we were wondering what that might mean.  There have been several big shifts in accounting recently, so we made sure we knew the details around that.”

Assistant Program Head of Business, Justin Medakiewicz, explains:  “There is a misconception that accounting is a stagnant field.  But the field has seen multiple paradigm shifts in just the last five years.  Changes in reporting standards on an international level, changes in designation with the merger of the three Canadian designations (CA, CMA and CGA) into the Chartered Professional Accounting (CPA) designation.  Students have to be prepared for this.”

And it seems, they were. 

At the finalist case presentations later that same day, where three teams were called to present once more, their team was called first.

“We stood up, almost wondering, is this a joke?” says Jaylen while the team laughs in agreement.  “There was a bit of surprise, then comfort in knowing they liked our solution.”

Jaskaran:  “We presented much better the second time, even though it was in front of more than a hundred people and a dozen judges.”

The final announcement came at an awards ceremony that evening.

Jaylen:  “That’s when we got the big cheque and the trophies.”

 “That moment felt good,” adds Marco.

Prof. Medakiewicz:  “I’m tremendously proud of the students.  This should give them reassurance as they move on from UofGH to write the CPA exams.  Those exams will be comparable to what they achieved in this competition.”

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