Accounting Team Advances to National Competition Finals in April

Team members (from left): Trevor Diuco; Andre Eason; Natalie Veto; Emily Pinder, Sam McEwan and Thea Pelz.

January 14, 2020
Gonzaga News Service

Team Wins Deloitte’s Regional Audit Innovation Campus Challenge

SPOKANE, Wash. — A six-member team of Gonzaga University School of Business Administration accounting students won a recent regional competition of Deloitte’s Audit Innovation Campus Challenge and is among 12 teams nationwide that will advance to the national finals April 4 at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas.

The team includes:

  • Sophomore Trevor Diuco, from Rancho Mission Viejo, California;
  • Juniors Andre Eason, Bellevue, Washington; Thea Pelz, Danville, California; Emily Pinder, Portland, Oregon; Natalie Veto, Tiburon, California, and
  • Senior Sam McEwan, Boise, Idaho.

Teams representing 50 colleges and universities nationwide participated in the regional competitions Nov. 21 and 22 in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The Gonzaga team had five weeks to respond to a challenge statement released in October. The national competition grand prize is $10,000 for the first-place school and $2,000 for each student on that team, $5,000 for the second-place school and $1,000 per student, and $2,500 for the third-place school and $500 per student.

Team members (from left): Sam McEwan, Emily Pinder, Andre Eason, Thea Pelz, Natalie Veto, and Trevor Diuco.
Team members (from left): Sam McEwan, Emily Pinder, Andre Eason, Thea Pelz, Natalie Veto and Trevor Diuco.
“The students made an awesome presentation at the regional competition,” said Gonzaga accounting Professor Sara Kern, one of the team’s advisers. “They faced some tough competition and I am incredibly proud of the Gonzaga team. We are very excited to compete at the national competition.”

Casey McNellis, assistant professor of accounting and a team adviser, said the accomplishment reflects the students’ strong collaborative work and innovative thinking.

“The team addressed the growing concern of data privacy and proposed a unique and practical solution that leverages specific competencies of the accounting profession,” McNellis said. “During the competition, the students worked closely with Deloitte professionals, and I am excited that they will be continue this valuable learning experience in preparation for the national competition.”

Diuco echoed the students’ excitement. “We have heard great things about Deloitte University so being able to experience it will be incredible. Going to nationals means we get to continue working with the wonderful Deloitte advisers whom we have already learned so much from and whom we admire deeply. Finally, we believe wholeheartedly in our idea and going to nationals gives us the opportunity to share it with the judges.”
We definitely had to put in a lot of work together, but it was also super important to have some fun along the way and develop some team chemistry. It was a great opportunity to work with other Zags while we interacted with Deloitte and the auditing field.
Team member Sam McEwan
Eason praised the entire experience and said the best part for him was taking part in a corporate business trip with an excellent team of close friends. “Experiencing travel, food, and hotel in order to present on the 27th floor of a skyscraper in L.A. were new experiences for the entire team that we will never forget,” he said.

McEwan called the competition “one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Gonzaga,” adding “we definitely had to put in a lot of work together, but it was also super important to have some fun along the way and develop some team chemistry. It was a great opportunity to work with other Zags while we interacted with Deloitte and the auditing field.”

Pelz said the experience has offered an insider’s perspective into one of the top accounting firms along with tremendous career preparation and networking opportunities. In addition, Pelz said the competition allowed the team to showcase Gonzaga’s “amazing program and the huge investment our teachers have made shaping students like us.”

Pinder said all the team proudly represents Gonzaga’s accounting program. “I have no doubt that it showed through our presentation. The support we constantly receive from our professors, other faculty, and fellow students is extraordinary.”

Veto expressed her gratitude for the experience that she said taught her more about the accounting profession and “opened my eyes to the possibilities that this career track could offer me, as well as what opportunities Deloitte as a company can offer its employees.” In addition, she noted: “We dived into the details of data regulation and consumer privacy, reading various privacy policies and combing through detailed terms and conditions. We compiled what we learned about data privacy and combined it with our knowledge of accounting and audit to create our presentation.”

Hosted by the Deloitte Foundation and Deloitte’s audit innovation and talent acquisition groups, the AICC aims to accelerate innovation in education by helping students and educators keep pace with the rapidly changing marketplace and evolving technologies while preparing students for career success.

This year marks the Centennial Anniversary of the School of Business Administration.