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Poole College team places third in Deloitte SAP Co-Innovation Event

A team of three NC State Poole College accounting students – Alexandra Shrader, Morgan Wilson and Taylor Rogan – placed third in the select Deloitte SAP Co-Innovation Event held at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, on August 5-7, 2016.

The competition included teams from 16 SAP University Alliance Schools. Poole College joined the alliance in 2008, the first business school in North Carolina to do so.

“Alexandra, Morgan and Taylor did a remarkable job representing NC State, placing third against some of the top business, information systems, and engineering students in the world,” said Marianne Bradford, Poole College professor of accounting and SAP instructor. She also served as faculty advisor for the team.

During the competition, teams of students were presented with a major current business and IT challenge and had to work together to create an innovative and effective solution. The executive judges from SAP and Deloitte said that NC State’s talented group of students had the best technical knowledge of any of the teams competing, Bradford reports.

During the first round of the competition, teams were assigned a business case scenario for which they had to find a viable solution using SAP enterprise software.

Rogan shared that their first challenge “involved a worldwide manufacturing company that was experiencing issues with disparate systems, lack of analytical abilities, and real time reporting.” Students were responsible for recommending a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system for the company that included a strategic rationale, costs and timelines for implementation.

The teams presented their results to a panel of judges, all industry experts, followed by a ten minute Q&A session. The Poole College team was one of four selected to advance to the finals following what Bradford described as a “grueling first round.”

“In the second round we were given a twist in the case, that the organization had just acquired another worldwide company and we had to figure that into our implementation plans as well as our cost analysis,” Rogan said. The team had two and a half hours to construct an effective business plan and an hour after that to rehearse their new presentation. The final four teams presented their solutions to another panel of judges, all creative and strategic leaders at Deloitte Consulting and SAP, followed by another Q&A session. “The judges were highly impressed by the thoroughness of our answers and our ability to think on our feet,” Wilson said.

In both rounds of the competition, the judges focused on team members’ professionalism, presentation skills, technical knowledge of SAP, and implementation plans, all while assessing the greater picture of current flaws in the company and how the proposed solution could benefit them in the future. They also took the Q&A session into account when selecting finalists.

Rogan said she appreciated the real-world experience that she gained from participating in the competition, saying it “makes you work under pressure to complete a presentation by a stringent deadline and exposes students to the real world of consulting and SAP.” She will begin working with Deloitte Consulting in February 2017 and said she valued the experience she gained before starting her employment. She also hopes to return to the competition next year as a Deloitte volunteer.

“I gained direct insight as to what a career would look like as a Business Technology Analyst (BTA) with Deloitte, what employers are looking for in an employee and a presentation, and appreciated the networking opportunities,” said teammate Shrader, who was offered an interview with Deloitte and said she would be “thrilled” to return to the Co-Innovation case competition next year to advise future teams.

Wilson said she enjoyed learning about the newest SAP solutions as well as having the unique opportunity to experience some of the work that technology consultants do. “I have been passionate about technology ever since I took ACC 440 (Poole College’s Enterprise Resource Planning course), and this competition introduced exciting career paths to me where I would be able to fully pursue this passion professionally,” she said. Wilson also was invited to interview with Deloitte for their BTA program.

NC State’s team members each received a cash prize of $250 for winning third place in the competition. Second place winners received $500 each, and the first place winners received an all-expense paid trip to Sapphire, the premier SAP conference held this year in Miami, Florida.

To prepare for the competition, the students compiled their research findings into a Google Doc to study from and held many online meetings and phone calls throughout the summer. They used material from Poole College’s ACC 340 (Accounting Information Systems) and ACC 440 courses as their starting point and took advantage of the resources provided on SAP’s website to familiarize themselves with current technology offerings.

Rogan said that she studied and researched intermittently throughout the summer, but really drilled down during the last week before they left for the competition. Wilson estimated she spent more than 50 hours preparing for the competition during the weeks leading up to the event. All of their hard work paid off when the NC State Poole College team beat out schools such as The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Southern California, and Villanova University.

Students wishing to participate in next year’s Deloitte SAP Co-Innovation Event should have some SAP experience and meet a 3.4 GPA requirement. Those interested in competing should contact Dr. Bradford by email.

About the team members

  • Alexandra Shrader is a senior majoring in accounting with an internal auditing concentration. She is treasurer of the Internal Audit Student Club at Poole College, and will be graduating in 2017.
  • Taylor Rogan is a senior majoring in accounting with the information systems concentration, and is an audit intern at BDO.
  • Morgan Wilson is a senior majoring in accounting with the internal auditing concentration. She is a Poole College Peer Leader and president of Beta Alpha Psi