RCB accounting majors take top honors in intercollegiate ethics competition

RCB accounting majors take top honors in intercollegiate ethics competition

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Rowan sophomores (from left) Jaden Sinondon, Kyle Perez, Jessica Pratt and Kelly Sullivan celebrate their victory in the KPMG/Essent Intercollegiate Ethics Case Competition with Accounting and Finance Professor Bill McGrath, who served as their coach.

Four sophomore accounting majors in Rowan University’s Rohrer College of Business took first place in the KPMG/Essent Intercollegiate Ethics Case Competition held this spring at Saint Joseph’s University.

The Rowan team of Kyle Perez, Jessica Pratt, Jaden Sinondon and Kelly Sullivan took top honors in the invitation-only, one-day event, sponsored annually by KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms, and Essent US Holdings, Inc.

During the competition, the student teams were presented with a graduate business school case highlighting a real-life ethical business dilemma. They had three hours to work on their solution before presenting their findings and recommendation before a panel of judges. Three teams (Rowan, Villanova and West Chester) then made a second presentation to a broader group of judges.

Teams were judged on their ability to fully consider the ethical components of the situation posed to them and also on the way they framed their solution using appropriate ethical considerations. They also were judged on the creativity of their solution, their poise, presentation skills, and ability to think on their feet, according to Accounting & Finance Department Chair Stephanie Weidman.

Other teams in the competition included groups from Saint Joseph’s, Temple, Drexel and LaSalle universities.

The Rowan team was coached by RCB Accounting and Finance Professor Bill McGrath.

“The competition is structured to foster ethical awareness and stakeholder considerations among business students early in their careers,” says McGrath. “Students were required to evaluate and analyze a very challenging ethics case and come up with solutions that were both ethically principled and pragmatic.”

The Rowan ethics team was chosen based on academic qualifications, teamwork and presentation skills, according to McGrath.

The group met several times to discuss ethical principles and even read and discussed the writings on ethics by philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, McGrath says. Additionally, the team worked through multiple graduate business school case studies as part of their preparations.

“They easily put in 40 hours or so of prep time,” says McGrath, adding that students who formerly represented Rowan in the competition volunteered their time to assist this year’s team. “Our students were able to grasp the material at a very high level.”

It’s keenly important for today’s accounting students to understand the ethical challenges they will face in the business world, McGrath notes.

“There is a need for very clear, ethical standards in the accounting field,” says McGrath, noting that Management Professor Ted Schoen and Accounting Instructor Bob Sacchetta assisted in coaching the team.

Perez and Pratt both are pursuing the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration in the Honors College. Perez is from Manalapan. Pratt, who also is majoring in finance, hails from Medford.

Sinondon, who is pursuing degrees in accounting and finance, is from Lakewood, while Sullivan resides in Berlin.