IMA Student Case Competition: Advice for CompetitorsBy
Last year, we had the honor of participating in the 2018 IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Student Case Competition as part of a team representing the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). After many months of hard work and dedication, our team (pictured above: Professor Daniel Siciliano with UNLV students Esther Lee, Ashley Brinkmeyer, Savannah Schmidt, Jesika Herrera, and Simon Zhu) was selected to compete in the finals at IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. And we won!
This success was thanks to the efforts of each of our team members as well as the support from the faculty in the accounting department at UNLV. Based on the wisdom we gleaned from our journey, we offer the following advice for educators and students planning to participate in this competition.
GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM MEMBERS
The accounting department at UNLV has continuously encouraged students to get involved in competitions such as this one. This was our school’s second year entering the IMA Student Case Competition. One of our faculty members determined who was interested in participating and helped compile the teams. The school’s encouragement had a great impact on the students who decided to enter the competition.
Our group was lucky enough to have already known each other through UNLV’s Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) chapter. We were on the leadership team together and had competed in case competitions at BAP’s regional and annual conferences before. We were already good friends, so right from the start we were familiar with each other’s working styles.
Other UNLV teams included students who’ve competed at Collegiate DECA, formerly known as Distributive Education Clubs of America, and teams formed through our cost accounting class. For those interested in participating in the case competition, joining an IMA student chapter would be a great place to find other students who want to join the team and to start preparing for an accounting career. We are both IMA student members.
Knowing your team members makes all the difference. Whether you build a friendship prior to or after forming your team, having that personal bond will be an asset throughout the process of preparing the case competition submission.
GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
Once we built our team, we got to work. First, we focused on answering the questions, and then we broadened the scope of our research. We wanted to discover what would add value to our video beyond completing the basic requirements of the case.
To distinguish yourself in the competition, don’t simply answer the questions and complete the assignments in the prompt. Also use creativity and innovation to make your video stand out and be memorable. Going beyond what the assignment asks of you will help differentiate your video and will make you more prepared to answer the questions during the finals.
CONTINUE TO REFINE YOUR PRESENTATION
After we submitted our video in February 2018, all of our team members breathed a sigh of relief. Our hard work had finally come together to form our finished product. Even without knowing how well our video would be received, we were so proud of the work we had done. Little did we know that our work had just begun. We only had a brief time to relax before we found out that we had been selected as one of the final four teams.
To finalists, we recommend that you keep refining your presentation. Even though your video was selected as one of the top four presentations, there’s always room for improvement. Continue to work on it up until the day of your presentation in front of the IMA panel of judges.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Practice, practice, and practice some more. As we made slight changes to our presentation, we also created a PowerPoint deck and presented it to our friends and family. We received insight into our presentation style and reassurance that the flow and engagement of the team were where they needed to be. It’s almost impossible to gauge the flow and timing of a presentation without practicing it over and over. As they say, “Practice makes perfect.”
We were excited and humbled when our team was announced as the winner of the 2018 IMA Student Case Competition. Looking back on it now, we appreciate the incredible opportunity this was for us as students and accountants-in-training. Working closely as a team, we were able to learn how each one of us solves problems differently. Each of our approaches contributed to the overall completion and success of our end product.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the win for us, however, wasn’t the plaque, monetary award, or recognition but the experience we gained and the friendships we developed throughout this process.
We thank IMA for creating the Student Case Competition and providing students like us the opportunity to gain invaluable experience and flourish together as a group in a professional environment. We also would like to thank our school’s faculty for their continued support and encouragement for our success. We hope that many future students will experience the joy and excitement of this competition as it continues to grow.
Visit IMA’s 2020 Student Case Competition: “Carmine’s Sacramento Wine Tastings.”