Miami Tax Challenge winners enter job market as stronger candidates

November 2013

The PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Case Competition, referred to as the "Miami Tax Challenge," is an event hosted by the Accountancy Department that requires teams of students to solve imaginary problems relating to taxes and tax code. The point of the Tax Challenge is to give students a chance to research a real-world business and tax policy issue and develop critical thinking, team-building, and presentation skills. This time around, however, their "imaginary" problems hit close to home: teams were required to come up with budget strategies for alleviating a state government's deficit concerns, a prompt that seems appropriate with the memory of the recent government shutdown still fresh in everyone's minds.

This year's prompt: a progressive state is struggling to "go green" but is facing a revenue shortfall. The teams were tasked with solving the issue without compromising the state's progressive nature. Teams were given two weeks to come up with their researched and analyzed solution. Then, they presented to two panels of judges for 12 minutes each and observed question and answer sessions after both.

The winning team included senior Accounting major Alex Busam, sophomore Accounting and Finance double major Robert Schill, sophomore Accounting major John Poth, and senior Political Science major Lot Kwarteng.

Tim Eaton, the advisor for the competition, stressed that events like these are important from a recruitment standpoint. "PWC is looking for the students and teams that have equal contribution across the board," he said, "because PWC wants to be a firm where all members contribute equally. Part of the reason Alpha was chosen as the winning team is because of the seamless way they presented." According to Tim, PWC is one of the top recruiters at Miami, and events like this put students in the spotlight.

"You do a lot of structured learning in your classes," said Alex Busam. "But with this competition, you get the outside experience you need to make you a more well-rounded job candidate."

One team member who came away with valuable experience is Lot Kwarteng. Last summer, Lot spent time in Washington, DC working for a lobbying firm, and he recently helped launch Project Green Room, a project aimed at promoting awareness of fiscal issues. He heard about the competition and thought that it would be a good opportunity to see what he had to offer the private sector. He came away from the competition with a clearer idea of what he could accomplish in the business world.

"Part of why I wanted to participate was to gain this incredible experience that I can mention during interviews," Lot said. "It was about networking, getting my resume in front of the right people. I can show potential employers that this is an opportunity I was given, and I took that risk, and it worked out perfectly for me."