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UC shows business strength with two teams in Big Break final

UC shows business strength with two teams in Big Break finals

August 29, 2012

University of Canterbury (UC) is flexing its business muscles with outstanding results so far in the Australasian accounting student academic Big Break Project.

A total of 144 teams (pairs or as individuals) entered the CPA Australia competition and just four teams have made it to the New Zealand finals in Auckland on Friday. University of Canterbury make up half the teams.

The Australasian finals are set for Melbourne on October 2 and 3. The winning team will receive $50,000 for their university and $20,000 for the team.

Sam Stapley and Thomas Pearse make up one of the UC teams. The other is Pip Widdon who is on her own. They have had to solve a real-world business problem facing the charity Make A Wish Foundation.

The competition, organised by one of the world’s largest accounting bodies CPA Australia, is being run for the first time in New Zealand this year. The event challenges undergraduates to get a head-start in their careers.

Stapley said he and Pearse chose to enter the competition together because we were interested in innovative solutions in a business environment.

``CPA Big Break enabled us to think innovatively while using our practical accounting knowledge to help out a charity,’’ Stapley said today.

The hardest parts were thinking creatively and being able to relate ideas specifically to the Make A Wish Foundation.

``We are currently preparing a 20 minute address to CPA delegates and industry professionals this Friday. The biggest challenge will be presenting effectively and the judges’ questions effectively.’’

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Assistant lecturer Bob Miller who sponsored the two students in the Big Break said the success in the competition by UC accounting students demonstrated the way UC graduates were trained to lead and contribute to society in both business and in the wider community.

`` Stapley and Pearse both work hard at their studies and relished the opportunity to apply their technical skills to a real case study. To see their ideas grow and be shaped was a real privilege,’’ Miller said.

UC accounting lecturer Tony Mortensen said UC produced some of the highest quality accounting students in the country. He sponsored Widdon in the project.

``Quite a number of students from UC go on to have stellar accounting and management careers and I believe this is a result of the high calibre of teaching staff.’’

``Pip Widdon is a hard working and determined student who will do extremely well in her professional career. At a time when most students are focusing on just getting through the rest of the year she is engaging with the profession and ensuring that she achieves at activities outside the university.’’

UC accounting Associate Professor Dr John Vargo said UC’s success in the NZ CPA big break project was just further proof the Canterbury Business School was ranked in the World’s top 100.

Last year another UC business student Tim Brand won a CPA Australia meet astronaut Neil Armstrong competition.

``Essentially, I had to pitch my vision for the future. I entered a short video entitled "Green Wings of 2050" pertaining to my vision for the commercial aviation sector of tomorrow. I won, and as the only NZ winner, I was flown to Sydney to meet Neil Armstrong.

``It’s great that UC and its enthusiastic commerce department encourages students to enter such competitions. UC is a world class university with world class staff.

``I gave a short speech to (the late) Armstrong not only on the challenges that commercial aviation faces, but also on the Christchurch earthquakes and how UC has recovered so well.

"Neil Armstrong rarely made public appearances, so meeting him in person and hearing of his epic moon landing was like taking a 'giant leap' into 1969,’’ Brand said.

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