Release Date: March 11, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. — After a close competition, a team of sophomores were victorious in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s 17th annual PwC Challenge, held virtually on March 5.
Congratulations go to the “Sowing Bulls,” the winning team made up of accounting students Colleen Chen of Buffalo, Vicki Wang of Queens, Menjing Yu of Guangzhou, China, and Ting Zheng of Buffalo, along with business administration student Dongwei Li of Beijing, China. Each team member won gift cards to Amazon and Starbucks, provided by PwC.
This year, nearly 5,000 students took the Challenge in individual competitions at campuses nationwide. Locally, 34 students participated in the School of Management’s competition, which tests students’ analytical thinking, decision-making and presentation skills on a real-world problem facing organizations today.
“The most useful thing that I learned from the Challenge is the power of communication,” says Colleen Chen, the winning team captain. “Our team had different language backgrounds, and one team member is living in China. For us, communication was important in coordinating meetings, and learning to restate and clarify ideas was helpful to organize them more professionally.”
Working together, each team examined a global apparel manufacturer, looking for opportunities to help the company increase its sustainability and social responsibility practices. Teams were tasked with identifying both “quick wins” and long-term goals, as well as recommending ways to track the company’s progress, measure the initiative’s financial impact and communicate all of it to external stakeholders.
In the UB finals, held virtually via Google Meet, teams had 10 minutes to present their analyses and recommendations to a panel of PwC judges: Keith Belote, BS/MBA ’93, assurance partner and managing partner for PwC’s Buffalo office; Neha Kher, BS ’08, manager; Gregory Reilingh, manager; and Brian Sabedra, tax partner.
The judges named the top three teams among all from UB that entered. Clinching second place was the “Taxmanian Devils,” composed of accounting sophomores Andrew Chin, Justin Froese and Connor Jerutis, with business administration sophomore Vi Ho and accounting junior John Wittwer.
Team “Alpha Finance” took third place. Business administration sophomores Yitong Chen, Tony Jiang and Nnenaya Osuji, along with accounting juniors Marc Licul and Stephanie Zeng, made up the third-place squad.
Before presenting to the PwC judges, each team benefited from the expertise of a PwC mentor. Andrew Sheehan, BS ’17, MS ’18, assurance associate, lent his knowledge and experience to the winning team. Meanwhile, Christopher DiDuro, BS ’16, MS ’17, senior assurance associate, and Marco Gangarossa, BS ’18, MS ’19, experienced associate, mentored the second- and third-place teams, respectively.
Teams could also take advantage of guidance from a faculty mentor as well.
“I would highly encourage future students to participate in the competition,” Chen says. “This challenge will give you the opportunity to work on your public speaking and critical thinking skills, while getting feedback from professionals in the industry. Overall, I had a wonderful experience.”