PwC Challenge Champions

On November 7th, 45 Providence College students comprising 9 student teams entered the hallowed halls of the Ruane Center for the Humanities to participate in the 2016 PwC Challenge Case Competition.

The winning team poses for a group photo with their mentors and PwC professionals.
The winning team poses for a group photo with their mentors and PwC professionals.

This year’s case addressed the issue of sustainability. The student teams were each asked to develop and present a strategic plan for a company grappling with a difficult environmental challenge.

The teams completed their presentations with the guidance of twelve student mentors, their faculty mentors, and eight PwC mentors who were Friar alumni. After delivering their presentations, each team answered questions about its proposal from a panel of judges, all of whom were Friar alumni and partners with PwC.

According to Friar alumnus John Formica, Assurance Partner and New York Metro Industrial Products Business Development Leader at PwC:

This year’s Challenge competition included a record number of freshmen and STEM majors. PC’s diversity of students really impacted the creativity of the solutions for the case’s Green Light Tire executive team to consider in evaluating the presentations.

Overall, it was another remarkable evening, filled with anticipation, excitement and exhilaration. Although one team inevitably emerged as the overall PC Champion, each student who participated, including the mentors, truly experienced an important learning event.  Hats off to all for another great Challenge event!

While the level of competition at this year’s event was extremely high, when the dust settled, one team emerged victorious: Team Mind the GAAP. The team participants were Christopher Hill (2018 Accountancy), Taylor de Boer (2019 Finance and Marketing), Matthew Hunt (2019 Accountancy), Jillian Sweeney (2019 Accountancy and Management), and Michael McArdle (2020 Finance).

Caroline Haddad (2017 Accountancy and past PwC Challenge Champion), Friar alumnus Nick Sirianni of PwC, and Professor Julia Camp (Accountancy) served as mentors to the team.

An ecstatic Professor Camp remarked after the competition:

The team worked extremely hard preparing for their presentation. In fact, my job as a faculty mentor was easy because they were so well prepared. I am really proud of how they came together and presented in front of the judges! Caroline Haddad was also a big help, and had great insight and experience that she shared with the team.

In addition to the honor of being crowned the “2016 PwC Challenge Champions”, the winning team members received a generous cash prize provided by PwC. They have also been invited to a celebratory dinner hosted by Providence College President Father Shanley and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Father Sicard.

This year’s competition would not have been possible without the support of John Formica, Ann Ulett, Lauren Irwin, and all of the other professionals from PwC who supported and sponsored the event.  We thank them, as well as all of the Providence College faculty, administrators, and student mentors who gave so generously of their time to support this year’s Challenge.

Stephen Perreault

Valerie Peterson

The Rhode Island Olympics

The Olympic Games have been held in some spectacular locations, haven’t they? Rio. London. Beijing. Montreal. And, of course, Rhode Island.

What? You weren’t aware of the Rhode Island Games? They actually occur every year, with the Accountancy Department of Providence College hosting the event facilities in 2016.

But it’s not sponsored by the International Olympic Committee. It’s the Accounting Olympics, and it’s sponsored by the Rhode Island Society of CPAs. According to Providence College student Tim Dalton:

I did coordinate last year’s Olympics! It was a great success. I believe we had about fifteen participants, and we engaged in many different fun games. Some were related to accounting, and some were simply fun activities, including basketball, golf, tug-of-war and many more. At the end, we crowned a champion. I believe that Blum Shapiro won the whole event.

Tim is almost perfectly correct. In fact, sixteen teams competed for the crown, staffed by individuals from academic institutions, financial service organizations, and public accounting firms of all shapes and sizes. A team of professionals from Blum Shapiro did indeed snare the top spot, although a pair of teams with Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. (KLR) professionals secured the second and third spots.

But Tim didn’t mention some of the more unusual competitive events. Last year, the teams also competed in the tissue box and toilet paper challenges, an elastic sharp shooting event, a variety of puzzles, and a “Minute to Win It” challenge. Incidentally, you cannot find any of these dramatic events at the IOC’s version of the Olympic Games.

On the other hand, there is no Decathlon or Marathon at the RISCPA’s version of the Games. And yet accountants still enjoy the Rhode Island version.

According to RISCPA President and Providence College alumnus Bob Mancini:


RISCPA’s Rhode Island Young Accounting Network (RIYAN) is in its fourth year of producing the Olympic Competition. Providence College has proven to be an ideal venue because of its location, its amenities, and, of course, the support of its student body and academic colleagues.

Our Providence College Friar participants will be spoiling for revenge this year, with a team of our finest students having finished 14th in the 16 team field last year. But with home court advantage in its favor, our Friars are determined to establish a championship tradition.

So if you are a fierce Olympic competitor, or if you simply enjoy an exciting competition, please plan to join us on November 9th. The Friars and the RISCPA will certainly appreciate your support.

And if you bring a donation of food, gift card, toy, clothing, or other item, the RISCPA will gladly deliver it to Child & Family, the largest and most comprehensive social service provider in Newport County. It is also one of the largest such providers in Rhode Island.

A Message From Lily The Dog

Many thanks to Department Chair Christine Earley for participating in our 5K NAMI Walks on October 22, 2016! Christine recently joined our Rhode Island Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and is now serving in the positions of Board Member and Treasurer.

As Theology Professor Dana Dillon’s pet labrador mix, I was delighted to lead our “Paul’s Pals” team on the walk. Eleven Providence College faculty and students, and one canine (me!), raised funds for our very worthy cause.

Paul is Dana’s brother; he lives with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. He is one of my favorite humans in the world, the one who can always be relied on to take me out for some “walk, sniff, and restroom” quality time. I was more than happy to suffer through the indignity of wearing a purple human shirt (see below) to let Paul know that he’ll never walk alone.

Even though I walked on all fours, my paws were still extremely tired by the end of the event. Indeed, I had a ruff time completing the five kilometers! I can’t even begin to imagine how my human colleagues must have felt, being limited to two feet and all.

Thank you, Friars and friends, for your financial contributions. The funds will be used for the salaries of our support staff members and the training activities of our group and peer counselors.

And you can feel comfortable that the funds will be well spent, because Christine is our Treasurer! Sponsorship donations to her Walk can still be made via her NAMI web page.


Why Tax? Video Competition!

Providence College taxation professor Julia Camp contributed the following posting for students who are considering careers in taxation. It provides a great opportunity for students who aspire to express their creative talents in the field of accounting.

I know why I went into the field of tax, but why did others? We want to know! And better yet, we want other students to know! Why is taxation a great field to enter? How would you influence someone to look into taxation as a career?

The American Taxation Association (ATA), with support from the Big 4 accounting firms, is sponsoring a video contest called Why Tax? Firms across the world are looking to recruit people for careers in taxation. Some firms even offer bonuses to those who enter tax instead of other areas in accounting, just to sweeten the pot.

According to Robert Half Management Resources, the role of a tax accountant is in high demand and there are many opportunities in both public and corporate tax departments.

The ATA Why Tax? video competition is asking undergraduate and graduate students to create 1-3 minute videos that highlight why someone might choose the tax career path. They encourage creativity and have no restrictions on format: short film, commercial, music video, documentary, etc. The videos are to be targeted towards other students.

Videos will be reviewed by a panel of experts including faculty and sponsoring firm employees. Prizes will be awarded to 1st ($3,000), 2nd ($2,000), and 3rd ($1,000) from the judging based upon scores for Concept (25%), Originality (25%), Script and Screenplay (25%), and How the entry encourages a career in tax (25%). Prizes will also be awarded to a Viewer’s Choice winner ($1,200) and Viewer’s Choice Runner up ($800), which will be determined by public vote.

The entire set of rules can be viewed on the website linked below, but some important ones to be noted are: the videos must be made by undergraduate or graduate students, videos must be original work without any professional assistance, and the videos must not refer in any way to the students’ College.

Submissions can be made via the link below until November 15, 2016.

I know that we have some very creative students who may be able to create some great videos. So – get out there and talk to some people in tax and find out why taxation can be so exciting! Ask your friends who have graduated and are now working, ask your professors (not the auditing ones!!!), ask your parents and family friends, and even better – ask the firms themselves. Wouldn’t it be a great interview question? What made you choose tax?

Why did I choose tax? Actually – my story is silly. I had to choose between tax and audit for an internship. For me it was an easy choice – I didn’t have a car, so I needed to be in the office, which I could get to by train. That was it – I chose tax simply due to my lack of transportation. Of course, once I got there, I realized how much I enjoyed it, and even more so after working on a few audits. But – I’ll leave those details as to “Why Tax?” to the student videos.

I hope to see some PC submissions. Good luck to those who enter!! And for the rest of you who don’t enter – be on the lookout for the videos to vote for Viewers’ Choice!

For more info, go to: 

Julia Camp

A Letter To My Freshman Self

For most of us in academia, the end of September represents a transition from Summer to Autumn, and from the turbulent chaos of a new academic year to the more settled rhythms of mid-semester.

But for freshmen, the end of September brings more significant transitions. How will collegiate midterm exams differ from their high school exams? How will the contemplative writing assignments of PC’s Western Civilization program differ from their grade school essays? And just as importantly, how will the temptations and opportunities of “dorm life” support — or impede — their academic goals?

Gerard Looser (‘09, ‘10G) of KPMG International recommends that we read John Veilmeyer’s A Letter To My Freshman Self, published on LinkedIn earlier this month. The Letter can be found by clicking here.

Professor Margaret Ruggieri of the Accountancy Department asked Gerard to write a brief introduction that presents his reflections regarding this Letter. We agree with Gerard that the Letter is not solely a worthwhile essay for freshmen; it is also a worthy read for all of us who were once freshmen, and who can look back on our own turbulent years of transition.

From Gerard:

A colleague of mine forwarded me a letter that John Veihmeyer, Chairman of KPMG International, wrote as a contribution to A Letter to My Freshman Self: Domers Reflect on Their Undergraduate Experiences, which is a collection of personal letters from Notre Dame alumni that was distributed to the freshman class at Notre Dame this year.

As a current employee of KPMG, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for John and all that he has accomplished as a leader in our firm, including driving the ethos of a high performance culture, his focus on diversity, and his relentless commitment to giving back to the community.

As I read John’s reflection, I instantly related to many of his experiences, including learning the value of hard work from my father, the desire for a purpose, and leading by example (just to mention a few). I encourage you to read his letter, and perhaps to take a few moments to reflect on the stories, knowledge and experiences that you might share with your freshman self. Go Friars!

Gerard Looser (‘09, ‘10G)

Taking The Challenge

Hey, accounting students … are you ready to take the Challenge?

Don’t worry; it won’t affect your Grade Point Average (GPA). But it might make you a better accountant!

Our Department Chair Christine Earley explains:

The signature event of the Fall semester is the PwC Challenge. This event will be held in October and November over a two week period, with the kickoff scheduled for October 24th and the final campus competition occurring on November 7th. PwC has made some changes to the program, which will be announced at kickoff, but the firm is still encouraging participation by all accounting majors, particularly those in the early years of the major. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting event through announcements in your accounting classes.

Stephen Perreault, a Co-Coordinator of the event, adds:

The PwC Challenge really represents a great opportunity for our students. It provides them with a chance to hone their analysis, presentation, and public speaking skills in front of a panel of supportive professionals from PwC. I encourage all of our students, especially those who have not participated in prior years, to consider taking part in this year’s competition.

And his fellow Co-Coordinator Valerie Peterson elaborates:

v-petersonWe are excited that Providence College has again been selected to participate in the PwC Challenge Case Competition! This will be the eleventh consecutive year that our students have competed in the Challenge. It is a wonderful opportunity for students to deal with a real world scenario and use their critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills to develop a solution to a business issue while connecting with PwC professionals.

You’re welcome to review the PwC Challenge web site to learn more about the event. And please feel free to ask any Accountancy professor at Providence College about it!

Christine Earley, Stephen Perreault, and Valerie Peterson

Our New Department Chair: Welcome!

As the recently appointed Chair of the Accountancy Department, I am delighted to welcome all returning students and faculty back to campus. And for the 64 new accounting majors joining us as the Class of 2020, welcome to the PC School of Business!

For those of you who have not yet met me, I have been a faculty member at PC since the Fall of 2008. After spending a few years in the Dean’s Office as Associate Dean, I took a leave of absence for the past two years to work at KPMG’s Global Services Center in Montvale, New Jersey.

I learned a lot during my time in the “real world,” and now I am happy to be back on campus. We have so much to look forward to this year, with the 100th year anniversary of the College and the new Ryan Center for Business Studies opening in Spring 2017.

We are working hard as a faculty to organize events for Accounting majors, including a great line-up for Introduction to the Profession, informative Accounting Association events, and exciting activities associated with the opening of the new building. Several accounting firms donated funds to name spaces in the new building (with information forthcoming in more detail in the coming months), and the late Gus Cote, a former PC accounting professor, made a sizable donation to name a computer lab for accounting students.

These generous donations will be recognized more fully during the spring semester, when there will be a groundbreaking ceremony and other events surrounding the building opening. We will invite some important people and prominent alumni to campus for these events, and I hope that you will be able to attend and use these networking opportunities to meet some wonderful supporters of PC and our students.

I want to encourage all of you to learn as much as you can about changes to the accounting profession during the next few years. They will have a profound effect on the skills that accountants will need in the future. For instance, you have probably heard the terms “Big Data” and “Analytics” used a lot in all aspects of business and in business education. And I know that some Class of 2017 students just completed a “Data Analytics” bootcamp at the PCSB!

All accountants will be impacted by the growing need for data and analytic skills in the future, and you will see changes in some of your accounting courses in response to this priority. Although these skills involve some quantitative components, Analytics actually depends on reasoning, and on making connections between items of information.

In other words, many of the skills that you learned in DWC and your liberal arts core will actually be needed to perform these functions. Data Analytics involves asking data questions, knowing how to use technology to provide the answers, and then interpreting the results. I hope that you all embrace learning these skills to better position yourselves for your future careers.

Most importantly, enjoy the beginning of the semester. I hope to see many of you soon, either in class or around campus at one of our events.

Dr. Christine Earley