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PC Accounting Students Win National Championship

(At right are, front row from left, Amanda P. Medeiros ’14, Philip M. Pin ’14, Ann C. Montemarano ’12, Vincent A. Travelyn ’13, and David J. Glaser ’13. At rear: Ann Ulett, a recruiting manager in PwC’s Boston office; Dr. Christine E. Earley, professor of accountancy; John R. Formica, Jr. ’81, a partner in PwC’s National Professional Services Group; Margaret P. Ruggieri, C.P.A., assistant professor of accountancy; and Caroline Carr, a PwC senior associate in Boston.) 


Providence, R.I.-- A five-student team from Providence College captured the top prize Monday in the national finals of the xTREME Accounting (xACT) competition, held in New York City at the headquarters of accounting and auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The national championship is a first in the competition for PC, which advanced to the finals two years ago and has held xACT competitions on campus for seven consecutive years. The winning team, which dubbed itself “The Consolidators,” was chosen to participate in the finals from among 45 schools nationally. 

Facing a panel of judges who were all PwC national partners, the students presented a solution to a business problem, then defended it under rigorous questioning. They were awarded the top prize over teams from the University of California-Berkeley, University of Texas, University of Washington, and Villanova University. 

“This is like our basketball team winning the national championship. This is unbelievable! To have (our students) go down there and win is just incredible,” said Dr. Patrick T. Kelly, associate professor of accountancy and department chair. “The competition is outstanding there, but I’ve always said that we can compete with anyone nationally, and this proves it.”

PC’s team was led by Ann C. Montemarano ’12 (Malverne, N.Y.) and included David J. Glaser ’13 (Westborough, Mass.), Vincent A. Travelyn ’13 (North Scituate, R.I.), Amanda P. Medeiros ’14 (Fall River, Mass.), and Philip M. Pin ’14 (Wilbraham, Mass.). They were coached by Dr. Christine E. Earley, professor of accountancy.

The winning team was announced at a reception late Monday afternoon, following competition earlier in the day.

“First, the judges complimented each team, and then they named all the teams that had won the competition in the past--Illinois three times, Louisiana State University twice, and UCal-Berkeley,” Earley said. “Then the judge said, ‘We have a new winner this year, and it’s Providence College.’ We just erupted, we were so excited.”

The students gave a “flawless” presentation, Earley said, adding, “One judge said that the competition was close, but the choice was clear.”   

John R. Formica, Jr. ’81, a partner in PwC’s National Professional Services Group and coordinator of the xACT competition at PC, agreed.

“Their presentation was nothing less than superb. It was absolutely outstanding,” said Formica.

“I can’t even explain how excited I was,” said Montemarano. “The best part of it is to bring the award back to PC, because it puts PC, our School of Business, and our accounting program on the map. The schools we competed against were huge universities and they looked at us as the underdogs, a little liberal arts school in Rhode Island, and we pulled through.”

Silver bowl, cash prizes awarded

PC’s team was given the Montgomery Award, a silver bowl kept at PwC headquarters in New York with the names of all winning teams inscribed on its base. Earley and the students each were given a small silver replica of the bowl by Tiffany to take home with them.

Cash prizes from PwC had been awarded earlier. For winning the xACT competition held on the PC campus in the fall, the team received $1,000 and Earley received $500. As national finalists, each student also received $2,000, and Earley received $5,000, which was donated to the student-run PC Accounting Association.

In the xACT competition, students study a business challenge--in this case, whether a fictitious company in the cosmetics industry should develop its own line of natural and organic cosmetics, or acquire a company that already manufactured such products.

The presentation the students made in the national finals was the same they developed in the campus competition--but the judges added a twist one hour before the competition, Earley said. Students were informed that another company had made a bid for the smaller company they were considering acquiring. Students had to decide whether to increase their own bid for the company, Earley said.

“Our students stuck to their guns,” said Earley. “They said they didn’t want to overpay. They came up with a strategy on how to deal with it, and they defended it. They had to think on their feet.”

Pin said the win was thrilling.

“It was good to represent the school and to win," he said. "I think it will open a lot of opportunities for me in accounting in the future. In addition to that, it gave me confidence in presenting and public speaking, and more knowledge of the different problems I might have to work through in the future on business acquisitions. It gave me skills and confidence.”

--Vicki-Ann Downing



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