Audit Challenge Champions

PROVO, Utah – Apr 23, 2018 – In April 2017, United Airlines faced a public relations crisis when a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight. To mitigate public outrage, the company made changes to its policies surrounding overbooked flights. However, some customers remained skeptical that the changes would actually be carried out.

A few months later, six BYU Marriott accounting students created a plan to involve auditors in crises such as the one faced by United. The students’ ideas earned them second place at the national Deloitte Audit Innovation Campus Challenge.

“These are terrific students, who are bright, charismatic, openhearted, and humble,” says Monte Swain, Deloitte & Touche professor and the team’s faculty advisor. “Their enthusiasm and willingness to work hard contributed to their success.”

The hard work began back in September when Swain assembled the team. The students were tasked with finding innovative ways for auditors to present nonfinancial information to the public. Information such as research findings, press releases, and sustainability reports add value to a brand, and auditors can confirm that the information is true.

From September to November, the students met once or twice a week to develop their idea. A few days before the regional competition, they felt uneasy about their plan, so they made a last-minute switch to focus on crisis management. This idea led them to victory in Los Angeles as one of two teams selected from the western region to attend the national competition.

The students further developed their idea based on the judges’ feedback from the regional competition. They consulted with Swain, other BYU Marriott professors, and Deloitte representatives to finalize their presentation.

Earlier this month, the team boarded a plane for an all-expenses paid trip to Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, for the national competition. The students had fifteen minutes to explain their process of auditing a company’s policies and presenting data to stakeholders and customers. They also answered a series of questions from the judges.

The team’s performance earned them second place and a prize of $5,000 for the school. Each team member also received a $1,000 scholarship. Arizona State University and the University of Kansas took first and third place, respectively. 

“We gave our best and prepared hard, so we would have been happy with any outcome,” says Kimberly McGuire from Bothwell, Utah. “Getting second was a great feeling, and it was cool to see how far we came as a team.”

In addition to McGuire, the team consisted of Nicole Donahoo from North Tustin, California; Brian Evans from Lawrenceville, Virginia; Erik Harris from Twin Falls, Idaho; Aubrey Schwendiman from Bountiful, Utah; and Scott Williams from Bothell, Washington.

“I was excited for the opportunity to learn and work through real-world problems and present solutions to real-world professionals,” Evans says. “The opportunity to do that and the value it will add to my future career is exciting.”

The BYU Marriott School of Business prepares men and women of faith, character, and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. BYU Marriott has four graduate and ten undergraduate programs with an enrollment of approximately 3,300 students.

The accounting team poses after taking second at the Deloitte audit national comeptition
A team of BYU Marriott accounting students took second place at the national Deloitte Audit Innovation Campus Challenge.
Six accounting students placed at the regional Deloitte audit competitio
Accounting students Scott Williams, Aubrey Schwendiman, Erik Harris, Kimberly McGuire, Brian Evans, and Nicole Donahoo pose at the regional competition in Los Angeles.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Maggie Kuta