The annual PwC Challenge took place on campus on Monday, November 11th, 2019. This case competition places students in a business situation where theory is executed in real time; where decisions are made; where communication and critical thinking are key; and collaboration is a must. Students are asked to think outside of their comfort zone, build relationships with team members, and to think with a digital mindset.
This year’s case involved a fictitious country that was searching for tax incentives that would encourage the use of “green” products and construction practices. The country was exploring ways to create tax incentives that would make it appealing to the construction industry to invest in the business systems, processes and practices necessary to design and build structures that meet “green” standards and to support the new construction of environmentally friendly homes, office buildings and infrastructures.
The students were faced with the challenge of developing a plan that would convey the potential impacts on both the treasury and the economy while also supporting the interests of the various component groups within the construction industry (developers, manufacturers, architects, engineers and equipment providers). Each of these groups had various ownership structures (corporate, partnership, individual owners) with unique needs and profit motives. Students were given excerpts from the country’s tax code and asked to make modifications and/or additions to the code that would support the “greening” of the construction industry.
This year, there were a total of nine teams, each containing four or five students. Each team had a full-time PwC employee as a mentor, as well as an on-campus student ambassador to assist the students throughout the project. The teams were given the case on October 28th, and had two weeks to develop a strategy. On November 11th, each team presented its findings to a panel of PwC judges. The judges were all Bryant graduates, who are now tax partners in PwC’s Boston office.
Students were instructed to maximize the talents of the team; discover everyone’s strengths; document a project plan; and create a communication strategy. Students were told to convey a solution that demonstrates that they understood the breath and depth of the case; to make sure everyone’s voice is heard; to support each other throughout the presentation; and to exude confidence. The teams were judged based on a combination of their critical thinking skills, communication skills, and overall teamwork.
This year’s winning team, whose members each won $200, was announced at an award’s reception following the competition. The winning team consisted of:
Aidana Aisa – Junior
Michael Halligan – Junior
Brendan Foley – Sophomore
Ashley Sharma – Sophomore
Benjamin Heyman – Sophomore
Ariana Bar – Ambassador
Michael Halligan thanked PwC and Bryant University for this enriching opportunity. He stated that the two week challenge helped him understand the thought process that goes into every business decision. He expressed gratitude that the experience exposed him to more knowledge of a real business setting and allowed him to develop greater skills in team building. Brendan Foley stated that the challenge was an irreplaceable experience and a great opportunity that cannot be passed up by anyone studying in this field. Professor Lynch congratulated the winning team. He stated that their presentation was outstanding. They answered questions from the judges in a very professional manner. They rose to the top amidst eight other strong teams. Their efforts were commendable. He stated that it was his pleasure to work with them and share in their victory.
Bryant has now participated in the PwC competition for the last fifteen years. Professor Michael Lynch of the Accounting Department has supervised this event for the past thirteen years. According to Professor Lynch; “Students gain insights into dynamic global and national business problems. They learn how to research, understand and explain technical issues to members of the CPA profession and leaders in private industry.”
PwC is the number one recruiter on campus. Robert Calabro, class of ’88 and a member of the Board of Trustees, served as one of the judges. PwC employs over 300 Bryant alumni, over twenty of which are current or retired partners.
In a nutshell, participating in this event is an outstanding line on one’s resume. It shows that you are a critical thinker, a good listener, and an overall team player. Ben Heyman summed it up by saying how incredible it was to see his team transform from its first meeting to its final presentation.