A team of students from the University of Southern Indiana won the national championship for their presentation in the Student Case Competition sponsored by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) at IMA's 94th Annual Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was the fourth year for a USI Romain College of Business team to take first place and the seventh year for USI to qualify for the national finals.
USI team members were accounting majors Taylor Atkins of Oakland City, Indiana; Katie Cassin of Evansville; Aaron McCullough of Flat Rock, Illinois, and computer information systems major Kelsey Welp of Celestine, Indiana. Faculty sponsors were Jeanette Maier-Lytle, instructor in accounting, and Jamie Seitz, instructor in accounting.
Published in IMA’s Strategic Finance magazine, the 2013 Student Case Competition was titled, Product Costing at Fine Foods: Is It a Symptom or the Problem? Teams evaluated a situation about a manager concerned that her company’s product line is being evaluated unfairly due to inaccurate and incorrect accounting practices. The USI team spent months, including part of their holiday break, analyzing the case and preparing a business model and proposal. “I am always amazed by the number of hours the students are willing to devote to the development of a creative and practical solution for the case,” said Maier-Lytle.
Accounting teams from universities across the country entered the first round of IMA competition by submitting a 15-minute DVD. Using a blind judging process, a panel of IMA members selected four teams to present at the annual conference.
To prepare for the live presentation, the USI team practiced in a professional setting with managers and staff at Harding, Shymanski & Company, P.S.C. and BKD, LLP. Some former team members who are now employed with these firms also attended the sessions and gave advice based upon their past experiences at the conference.
IMA also uses a blind judging process for the final live presentations. The four teams that presented were USI, Culver-Stockton College, University of Vermont, and Wright State University. All final four teams received an award of $3,000. As the national champion, the USI team received an additional $2,000. Maier-Lytle said the USI students gave an outstanding presentation at the conference and handled themselves well during the question-and-answer session that followed.
“The sustained exceptional performance of our students in this national competition exemplifies their commitment to excellence and the caliber of their professional skills,” said Dr. Mohammed Khayum, dean of the Romain College of Business. “Students participating in case analyses at this level is an illustration of a life-changing professional experience. Their accomplishment illustrates the effectiveness of combining collaboration, problem-solving, and exceptional communication skills.”
Taylor Atkins is grateful for the experience. “The IMA case study allowed me to apply my knowledge of managerial accounting to decisions and issues that many companies face,” he said. “It also allowed me to build my knowledge of accounting concepts and enhance my presentation skills, while improving my team leadership skills and my time management abilities.”
The IMA conference, which was held June 23-26, 2013, provides the opportunity to network with other business colleagues to acquire industry knowledge and remain current with the latest professional standards and trends. During the conference, Dr. Brian McGuire, associate dean of the Romain College of Business and professor of accounting, was recognized as Chair Emeritus of the organization’s Board of Directors for 2012-13. He served as Chair of its Board of Directors during the 2011-2012 year.
The association of accountants and financial professionals in business, IMA has more than 65,000 members in 130 countries.