A creative script well performed sometimes ends up in a curtain call … even when the cast is comprised of accounting students.

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Accounting students took a theatrical approach to their competition.

Six College of Business accounting students did just that by turning their good ideas into equally effective theater and in the process took center stage in a regional accounting competition. Their first-place finish in The Deloitte Audit Innovation Campus Challenge regional competition in Charlotte earned Clemson University a curtain call in the accounting giant’s 12-team final competition in April.

“The team took an outside-the-box approach to its presentation and put a lot of work into it,” said Terry Knause, accounting lecturer and the team’s advisor. “The result was a great learning experience that gives them an opportunity to test their skills against the best collegiate accounting teams in the country at Deloitte University near Dallas.”

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The winning team at Deloitte’s Audit Innovation Campus Challenge.

The challenge Deloitte presented the aspiring accountants was to innovatively find ways for the company to use technology to expand its services into areas other than financial statements. Knause, a CPA who has worked more than 40 years in accounting, is convinced the team’s oral presentation is what set Clemson apart from seven other competitors.

“Traditionally, the oral presentation is a PowerPoint, where presenters click through slides. We’ve all sat through them and they can put you to sleep,” Knause said. “Our team decided to write a script and make theater of it by presenting in a two-act play. It turned out to be an informative, humorous and effective way to communicate our ideas. And it was very obvious, we had a captive audience.”

Students created a “Made in America” theme for their fictitious company, Tiger Paw Shoe Co., to illustrate how a third-party could validate a company’s claim that their products were made in America.

“We came up with a unique way to present our information that would stand out,” said Megan Austin, a senior accounting major and team member. “Our skit was perfect, because it showed how this type of validation service could be executed in a life-like scenario.”

The remaining cast of characters for Clemson’s first-ever appearance in the competition included, Mac Brindle, Ty Cruz, Emma Dilworth, Marisa Harkey and Hailey Nelsen.

Accounting challenge, skit, students, Deloitte

The team’s playbill identifies their “Made in America” company.

In Act 1, “The Shoe Drops,” students portrayed C-suite officers on a phone call with investors who challenged Tiger Paw Shoe’s claim that its products were made in America. In Act 2, “Green Dot to the Rescue,” company leaders and Deloitte are shown using available technology to read contracts and purchase orders of their suppliers to prove Tiger Paw’s products are domestically made.

“We were also told by an audience member our skit was much easier to follow than some other presentations because we hit all of our main points in a logical, realistic manner,” Megan added. “And the best part is the team had fun with it. We threw in some jokes and humorous props and even had a playbill for the judges. We had them laughing throughout the presentation.”

Clemson’s competitors in the Charlotte regional included, University of Florida, Texas A&M, University of Virginia, William & Mary, Howard University, University of South Carolina and University of Maryland.

Beyond learning the value of outside-the-box thinking, Megan said the exercise enlightened her in other accounting protocols.

“My knowledge of accounting has definitely been enhanced through the competition. It created some learning opportunities on independence rules and internal controls,” Megan added. “I was also able to take information I learned in class and apply it to a real-life situation. It’s been an invaluable experience beyond the classroom.”

Knause said the competition has been an opportunity for some students to show their mettle and leverage their skills on a stage other than the classroom.

“This is an incredible exposure and learning opportunity for all of these students,” Knause said. “In addition, members of the top three teams in the Dallas finals win scholarships and even bigger monetary awards are presented to their respective schools’ accounting programs.”

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