Competition Charges Students with Being Creative to Solve Tax Issues
Accountancy & taxation students at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business had the chance to apply what they’d learned in the classroom in October during the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) xTAX Competition.
Held annually, the event is part of the PwC xTREME Games and requires students to form teams to develop and analyze a case that includes a challenging tax issue. Each team has two weeks to prepare for the final judging, done by partners at PwC.
Four teams of five students each competed this year, and the final presentation from each group made judging difficult, said Michael Newman, director of professional accounting programs at UH Bauer.
“This was the first time that the judges ever recognized more than two teams and this time they recognized all four because they were all outstanding,” he said. “It shows the quality of our program and the students. We are really proud of the effort and preparation they put in. All of them were winners.”
Teams were judged based on basic accounting knowledge and sharp critical thinking skills combined with a presentation of practical solutions to the case study. The first place team consisted of Van Lam, Linh Ly, Zach Poncik, Carina Sosa, and Hazel Thakkar. The second place team included Josh Rolnick, David Spilkin, Anthony Kariampally, Vy Trang and Nayaab Younas.
“The judges said it was a tough call but I think we stood out because of our strong teamwork. We worked together well not only in the process but also in our presentation,” Lam said.
Poncik echoed his teammate’s focus on unity. “I believe we stood out because we created a total, cohesive package,” he added. “We addressed every problem and question they presented us and tried to come up with our recommendations that would suit the company best. We kept the presentation material simple and made sure that our presentation was clearly communicated.”
During the preparation process, every team was assisted by a mentor from PwC. For the teams, the mentor’s advice and guidance proved invaluable when it came time to compete.
“Our mentor, Mo Sanchez, was an important member in our group,” Sosa said. “He definitely helped us a lot to achieve our victory in this competition. He gave us great advice on how to present ourselves. He pointed out our flaws and also appraised our presentation skills.”
The competition gave the students experience in presenting to professionals and working with different people and personalities as a team, skills that are applicable in any profession.
“I definitely feel more comfortable doing presentations now and that will obviously be an asset in any sort of career that I end up pursuing,” Thakkar said. “Also, the project helped me rediscover the importance of teamwork and the incredible result it can produce. I eventually plan on becoming a lawyer and such skills would definitely help me in my career.”
By Ryan Tang