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Kiwi student to take on Aussies in business competition

Media release
3 September 2012

Kiwi student to take on Aussies in final of trans-Tasman business competition

Phillipa Widdon progresses to Melbourne to contest final of AUD$100,000 competition

The winning New Zealander in The CPA Big Break Project, a trans-Tasman business competition for undergraduate students, was announced today following presentations to a judging panel.

Phillipa Widdon from the University of Canterbury won the competition’s first round and will go on to contest the final round in Melbourne in October, where she will come up against other first-round winners from around Australia.

As well as the trip to Melbourne, Phillipa receives an Apple iPad, a AUD$1000 clothing voucher and a style workshop.

The CPA Big Break Project is an initiative of global accounting body CPA Australia and aims to give students the chance to solve a business problem for a real-world organisation. The annual competition, being held in New Zealand for the first time, is this year focussed on not-for-profit organisation Make-A-Wish®.

CPA Australia’s Country Manager for New Zealand, David Jenkins, says he was impressed by the quality of all the finalists: “Each finalist gave an outstanding SWOT analysis [Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats] and answered the judges’ questions thoroughly. It was a close contest but Phillipa’s presentation stood out. I’m confident the New Zealand team can go on and take the overall prize - and give Phillipa a great kick-start to her career.”

“I am absolutely stoked to have taken out the New Zealand round of The CPA Big Break Project,” says Phillipa “It’s been an awesome experience putting what I have learned at uni into practice, and I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne with my sponsor Tony Mortensen, MBA Director at University of Canterbury, and competing in the final.”

Phillipa beat three other finalists: Wendy Hawkes and Yue Lin from Unitec Institute of Technology, Philip Leveanasiga and Apisai Leveanasiga also from Unitec Institute of Technology, and Sam Stapley and Thomas Pearse from University of Canterbury. A total of 214 entries were received from New Zealand tertiary students nationwide.

At last Friday’s [31 August] judging, each finalist presented a SWOT analysis of Make-A-Wish®. The judges were:
• David Jenkins, Country Manager New Zealand, CPA Australia
• Mark Stinson, New Zealand Branch President, CPA Australia
• Barry Leitch, Trustee, Make-A-Wish® New Zealand
• Liam Dann, Business Editor, New Zealand Herald

The competition’s overall winning team will be announced in Melbourne on 3 October following the final round, during which a complex business problem facing Make-A-Wish® will be posed to finalists. The overall winning team will receive $AUD20,000 in cash and a CPA Program Scholarship for each team member. The winning team’s tertiary institution will also receive $AUD50,000 to enhance educational outcomes for their students.

Carolyn MacDonell, CEO of Make-A-Wish® New Zealand, says: “As an organisation that relies solely on donations of time, services and financial gifts to deliver on our mission, we can’t wait to see what the overall winner will come up with to help us continue making wishes come true for sick Kiwi kids.”

Key dates:
31 August – round-one judging to find New Zealand winner
3 October – round-two judging, gala dinner and overall winner announced in Melbourne

To find out more about The CPA Big Break Project, please visit


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