By Jordyn Holliday
A group of five College of DuPage Accounting students recently won the PricewaterhouseCoopers Challenge at Northern Illinois University, a two-week case competition focused on general business concepts.
Courtney Cager (Lombard), Carmen Flores (Glendale Heights), Ryan Gavigan (Carol Stream), Jon Lill (Carol Stream) and Goda Narakaite (Woodridge) each earned a $200 prize and an invitation to attend an upcoming PwC leadership conference after impressing a panel of PwC judges during a 10-minute presentation. The Challenge models real-world business scenarios focusing on the strategic issues currently being faced by companies. Six teams from NIU and area community colleges participated in the competition.
The group’s winning presentation focused on a case in which a media company had recently acquired a theme park that included a gaming subsidiary. The students were tasked with determining if the company should continue funding the gaming subsidiary or sell it.
COD Accounting Professor Maureen McBeth said she was impressed with how well the students worked together.
“The idea they came up with was phenomenal, but what was even more impressive was the way the students, who only knew each other from class, collaborated and found each other’s strengths and developed this dynamic presentation,” she said. “I was so proud of the skills they demonstrated that will be critical to their success in their future careers as leaders in the business world.”
Lill said having the opportunity to participate in the Challenge served as a great learning experience for him.
“This competition helped me understand more about the thought process that goes into every business decision made at a company,” he said. “I also understand now that multiple options are always considered and analyzed when making any big decision. I feel like I have improved both my leadership and communication skills.”
McBeth added that the students’ problem-solving skills and willingness to do the necessary groundwork paid off in the competition.
“The team looked at many alternatives and even changed their recommendation more than once,” she said. “They did a lot of research on the gaming and entertainment industries and even met with Steve Santello, a COD professor who specializes in the gaming industry. He shared some terrific insights that led them to the winning recommendation.”
Lill said he felt well-prepared entering the Challenge, thanks to COD’s Accounting program and guidance from McBeth, who teaches a class he’s currently taking.
“I am extremely grateful for the Accounting classes at COD, especially the one I am currently enrolled in,” he said. “Maureen is a huge contributor to my success and preparation for events like this one. Without her, I wouldn’t be hearing about all of these great opportunities.”
Pictured, left to right: Jon Lill, Courtney Cager, Carmen Flores, Goda Narakaite and Ryan Gavigan.