Four NC State Poole College of Management students – Kingston Liriano, Keeley Moore, Alex Paoloni and Eisaku Sato – brought home third place honors from this summer’s Deloitte SAP Co-Innovation event, the second year in a row that a Poole College team did so.
The event was held August 4-6 at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas. During this three-day challenge, teams of students from 16 universities that are members of the SAP University Alliance program were tasked with creating a real-world solution using SAP technology. A total of 61 students, with a special interest in learning more about business and technology programs involving SAP solutions, participated in the competition.
This year’s challenge was to create a solution to a scenario focused on supply chain improvements, real-time decision-making and the IT infrastructure for a beverage maker.
The case competition allowed the student team to apply and build upon what they already knew about SAP tools and business processes through internships and coursework, and also to clarify their career goals and improve their teamwork and presentation skills.
In a recent email interview with Poole College communications, in which the team members reflected on the experience, they said that they participated because it was an opportunity to learn more about SAP and the field of consulting from Deloitte, one of the Big Four consulting firms. Opportunities for networking provided at the event were also a plus, as all four teammates are on track to graduate within this academic year.
Paoloni, a senior in accounting, said, “The field of enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations interested me because of (its) problem-solving nature,” adding that implementing ERP is different for each company, like “a new puzzle, and I looked forward to the unique problem to which we could apply our solution.”
“Teamwork and working under pressure to create a solution” were the two key learning experiences that Paoloni said he gained from the competition, and Moore said he encourages students who are “looking to grow professionally and personally to apply for this competition.”
The students made time during their summer break to study the intricacies of SAP and information technology concepts and to discuss a mock case.
Paoloni, who was project manager for the team, said he integrated his preparation for the competition into his internship experience, which provided opportunities to learn more about SAP and gain experience with it.
Among his activities as project manager for the Poole College team was development of an implementation timeline and rollout of the software solutions throughout the hypothetical beverage company and its locations, aligned with SAP’s implementation timeline and methodology, as well as cost of implementation.
“A lot of my studying was watching videos on SAP, researching the SAP products and applications on their website,” as well as researching the system’s ERP tools, implementation methodologies, failures and cost drivers of ERP implementation.
“We all had to have a high level (of) knowledge of other member’s parts so that we could have better cohesion as a team in developing our solution to the case,” he said. This did require some study of SAP, information technology concepts and a mock case over the summer months, Moore said.
The effort was worth it. “Not only was this competition a wonderful experience and learning opportunity, it was a true testament of my team’s ability to cooperate, integrate our ideas, build a strong case, and present the case in a cohesive, professional manner,” she said.
“There was so much opportunity for networking and forming relationships, building professional skills like teamwork and public speaking, and really pushing yourself to be the best you could possibly be in a setting where you were under a lot of pressure to perform,” Moore continued.
In addition to learning more about Deloitte and experiencing “what it is like to find a solution for a client,” Sato said he was drawn to the competition because it would be “a great way to develop my presentation skills and network with professionals.”
Like his team members, he also read materials from the prior team’s experience and reviewed materials from his ERP (ACC 440) course, taught by Marianne Bradford, professor of accounting and faculty advisor for the SAP competition teams. “I also did some outside research on the SAP solutions and the SAP Activate process,” he said.
“I gained many things from this experience,” Sato said, including feedback that will help him improve his presentation skills. “It was also a great chance to improve my teamwork,” he said, and it reinforced his time management skills.
For information about next year’s competitions contact Professor Bradford.
About the team members
- Alex Paoloni is a senior majoring in accounting and with a minor in Spanish. He is the president of the Business Spanish Club and the controller of Beta Alpha Psi and will be graduating in 2018.
- Keeley Moore is a senior majoring in supply chain management/operations. She is the vice president of Women in Business and will be graduating in fall 2017.
- Kingston Liriano is a junior majoring in accounting with an information systems concentration. She is a member of Beta Alpha Psi and the Accounting Society. She will be graduating in fall 2017 with her bachelor’s degree and entering the Jenkins Master of Accounting program at Poole College.
- Eisaku Sato is in Poole College’s Jenkins Masters of Accounting program, is a member of Beta Alpha Psi, and will be graduating in spring 2018.