After weeks of preparation and anticipation, six College of Business juniors achieved 3rd place in the final round of Deloitte’s 2021 Audit Innovation Campus Challenge on April 9.
Biz Rams Samantha Davis, Megan Johnson, Noah Kim, Emma Brendle, Alex Kim and Preston Scheidt each earned a $500 scholarship for their achievement. In addition, Deloitte will make a $2,500 contribution to the College.
This year’s competition revolved around one question: “How can we use innovation and technology to enable people to have a professionally rewarding experience while continuing to deliver exceptional client service and meeting stakeholder needs?”
In the first round of the competition, the team competed against more than 50 college and university teams that worked to answer that question. The team members’ idea earned them one of 12 spots in the final round. The students received their instructions for the finals on March 1, which challenged them to take their idea from the first round to the next level by showcasing it for a panel of judges.
“We had formed a pretty solid foundation as to what our idea was for the first part of the competition,” Johnson, an accounting student, said. “However, our ideas were quite broad, which made it challenging to put into a presentation format.”
Taking the idea to the next level
The team submitted its final deliverables on April 5 and presented to the judges the morning of April 9.
“We decided to try to capture the tangible parts of our idea in a short animation. Then focus on the broad takeaways in the presentation,” Johnson explained. “The most exciting part was that we had no limitations to our idea and how crazy it could be.”
They developed an idea for an app, Verse, which promotes well-being, high achievement and collaboration among teams.
“It became less of an idea and more of a recommendation,” finance and international business student Brendle said. “I think the entire team started to believe we had a product that would make everyone’s life at Deloitte easier. It is something that should be implemented, and that made it more exciting to work on.”
Stepping up in a virtual environment
This year has, of course, been strange for the team. Instead of meeting in study rooms on campus with whiteboards and shared screens that create a natural space for brainstorming, they collaborated over video calls and email.
Assistant professor of accounting Michelle Draeger serves as the faculty advisor for the Deloitte case competition each year. She pointed out that the virtual nature of this year’s competition placed more responsibility on the students. In the past, she attended and coordinated team meetings, facilitated faculty practice and travelled with the team for the competition.
“They’ve definitely impressed me with how organized and on top of the challenge they have been. I’ve been more involved with it being in-person prior years, so this year has felt a bit disconnected,” she explained. “But they’ve continuously impressed me with their professionalism and dedication. They’ve proactively reached out to the Deloitte employees and met with them separately. And overall, (the students) really stepped it up in this virtual environment!”
Every student on the team echoed Draeger’s sentiment. Whether it was 8:30 am or 9 pm, team members could rely on each other to show up ready to work, while also enjoying their time spent collaborating.
“My favorite part of working with this team was how well everyone collaborated and how easygoing they are,” Noah Kim said. “Amid classes, exams, and life, they were able to make this whole process fun and less stressful.”
Brendle added, “It truly was a team effort and each of us contributed to different features of the app based on our experience and what we thought would be beneficial for Deloitte employees. When we finally presented, our idea was intricate and all-encompassing, but it was something that could truly be implemented.”
The team’s compatibility in personality and work ethic set them up for success in the Audit Innovation Campus Challenge. Plus, they all learned the value of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking when solving business problems.