Highlighting our success | Spring 2018
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR Dear Friends, Welcome to our latest edition of Accounting for Success newsletter. We are pleased to share highlights of recent accomplishments and activities in the Department of Accounting. In the Student Focus section, you will read about our students who have participated in firm-sponsored case competitions. I am extremely proud of our hardworking and enthusiastic students. The Program Focus section highlights two important initiatives to help our students obtain the best possible placement and career success: a new accounting honors course and our revised MAcc program. The Faculty Focus section introduces you to one of our new faculty members, Thomas Vance. Finally, I want to thank you for the support, encouragement, and engagement you have provided to the Department of Accounting since I joined the faculty in July 2014. The success of our students and faculty would not be possible without the generous gifts of time, talent, and treasure that each of you so enthusiastically share. It has been a true pleasure to work with you on the continued success of the Department of Accounting.
At the end of the spring semester, I will be leaving Colorado State University to pursue other career opportunities. During this transition period, Lisa Kutcher is serving as the Interim Department Chair. Lisaâ€™s outstanding contributions and deep commitment to the department, combined with her extensive experience leading key committees and directing the accounting undergraduate program, make her the ideal faculty member to serve in this important capacity. I invite you to enthusiastically support Lisa in her new role. Please know that wherever my career takes me, a part of me will always be a Ram. I wish the Department of Accounting at CSUâ€™s College of Business nothing but amazing success going forward.
Audrey A. Gramling Professor
Friends of the Department,
I intend to maintain the relationships that Audrey developed, and continue to focus on the core research and teaching mission that is consistent with the land grant mission of CSU. I, along with the students and faculty, are grateful for your continued interest in and support of the CSU accounting programs. Because of your generosity, the College of Business is well-positioned to conduct cutting-edge research and prepare our students to become future leaders in the accounting profession! Thank you!
I also want to extend my thanks for your continued support, encouragement, and engagement with the Department of Accounting. It is bittersweet to assume the role of Interim Department Chair. The department is in a great place due to Audrey’s leadership. She has built relationships with our alumni, hired excellent new faculty, and significantly improved both our Lisa Kutcher graduate and undergraduate curriculum. While I am sad Professor & Interim Chair | Deloitte Faculty Fellow to see Audrey leave, I wish her all the success in her new endeavors. As Interim Department Chair,
STUDENT FOCUS STUDENT TEAMS PERFORM WELL AT CASE COMPETITIONS Student teams recently participated in two rigorous case competitions, coming up with solutions to important business challenges. Here are a few highlights.
DELOITTE AUDIT INNOVATION CAMPUS CHALLENGE The Deloitte Audit Innovation Campus Challenge was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a team of six students represented the College of Business. The regional-level competition played host to ten teams, and our team ultimately came in third. Nebraska and Kansas advanced to the national competition. Professor Thomas Vance headed up the team, and noted, “This was a great opportunity for our students to jump into the deep end, get disoriented, and see how they could respond. I was extremely impressed by how well the team members came together and performed. While they solicited options and ideas from faculty and professionals at Deloitte, the approach and final product were all their own. They did a remarkable job in a very challenging setting.” Joanna Kempton, a student participant, was excited to be part of the College of Business team. “I was really proud of the way we supported each other and felt passionate about our project,” she said. “We approached solving things collaboratively by brainstorming as a group….We did all of our work together with some outside research.”
Front row - left to right - Joanna Kempton, Brianna Brienza Back Row - left to right - Dr. Thomas Vance, Jordan Reynolds, Courtney Carlisle, Timothy Ouzounian, Kellen Harp
CHALLENGE AND SOLUTION Students were challenged to respond quickly to questions regarding the roles of auditors and advanced technologies in providing organizations with assurances about the credibility of information presented to company stakeholders. They also offered feedback on the potential risks associated with a third-party organization giving such assurances. Kempton explained that the team’s solution involved a recommendation to create new, enhanced analytics software to interpret qualitative and quantitative data and help auditors verify companies’ claims. “This would go beyond typical financial statement data to include reports from emerging fields such as CSR strategies, social media statements, and environmental reports,” she said. “With this software, an auditor could evaluate whether or not a company is consistent/truthful in the claims they make.” Overall, the CSU team scored well for their attention to detail and creative thinking. It was a successful first trip to this competition by the College of Business, and the department looks forward to opportunities for participating again in the future.
KPMG INTERNATIONAL CASE COMPETITION (KICC) After winning their campus competition, the College of Business’ team “Bond on the Run” went on to compete in San Francisco, California at the regional level of the KPMG International Case Competition. The team worked on a general consulting challenge and had three hours to formulate a 20-minute presentation with a creative solution. The team performed well and exhibited strengths in strategy,
collaboration, and innovation. In the end, the University of Southern California won the event, and moved on to the national competition.
Pictured: Brad Holub, Cordell Keller, Catherine Goolsby, Conor Grieshaber, and Jake Petronella
Our students gained valuable presentation experienceand each demonstrated a dramatic growth in confidence and professionalism through their efforts. They also took advantage of networking opportunities and enjoyed time for socializing in San Francisco.
PROGRAM FOCUS HONORS ACCOUNTING COURSE OFFERS HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE OF WORK Professor Margarita Lenk designed and led the class with precisely this in mind. “I want students to understand what financial statements really mean,” said Lenk. “Why do stakeholders need them? What are regulators looking for? What information can be derived from the statements?” To do this, Lenk leveraged real-world data from diverse industries – everything from airlines and hotels to nonalcoholic beverages, outdoor equipment, and supermarkets – to help students understand how many stories are told Quin Kuechenmeister and Professor Margarita Lenk through numbers. “That refocusing makes all the difference,” When Jordan Reynolds, a 2nd-year hospitality management she said. In addition, Lenk noted that her recent experience major entered the new honors Accounting class (ACT210), she got much more than she anticipated. “I thought I wouldn’t as a Semester at Sea instructor, “changed everything I do.” This experience inspired her to bring a global presence to like the class,” she said, explaining that she assumed the the curriculum, offering students insights into why American content would be all spreadsheets and numbers. Instead, accounting standards are more conservative and rigorous Reynolds learned to love accounting. than those of other nations – and why that can be a good Why? Practical application. “It made it fun, to learn how you thing. can use financial statements, and what different people in a company would do with those numbers,” said Reynolds. Make a donation today,
ESTABLISHING A NEW COURSE The honors course was funded with a generous $10,000 INQquires grant from PwC, as part of the firm’s ongoing efforts to assist universities it frequently hires from. “These grants are designed to support the introduction of new skills into the accounting curriculum or to attract additional students to the accounting course of study,” sais Wendy McCray-Benoit, a PwC assurance partner. “We believe that attracting additional top-caliber students to the profession is key to maintaining quality in the work we do, and the honors course was a way to partner with the CSU College of Business in attracting additional top talent to the profession.” It’s already working. Reynolds has decided to add accounting as a second major, and Lenk says other students have switched over from other fields to become accounting majors as well.
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LEVERAGING NUMBERS FOR SMART BUSINESS DECISIONS As Lenk noted, “In this class, they’re learning to calculate data over five years, represent multiple trends across each industry, and then graph the data for visualization. Then at the end of the semester, each student gives a 15-minute oral presentation. For the presentation, students can take on one of two roles: convincing investors to buy stocks in their companies, or convincing investors to hire the student as an analyst.” This requires students to understand and select the visualizations that are persuasive to their point. For instance, Reynolds was assigned data from Coca-Cola. “There were times throughout the semester where I had to look at just Coca-Cola’s numbers, and use different equations, and look at the specifics related to them,” she says. The detailed inquiry into real-world reporting made a big impact on her. Additionally, Lenk noted that the unique format allows students not only to learn the ins and outs of accounting practice, but to get a feel for the industries they may enter into post graduation. Lenk said students come away with an understanding of the diverse range of work opportunities that exist across different industries; they may even come to discover which industry appeals to them, and why.
STAYING ENGAGED Reynolds noted that stepping up to the rigor of the honors course took extra effort, but says it was well worth it. “You have to be more on top of your coursework,” she said. “It builds on itself so much – you have to keep up with the reading so you can complete the assignments and pass each test along the way.” On Lenk’s advice to do daily accounting work, Reynolds said she spent as much as two hours a night preparing for the class throughout the semester. “In a 14-person class, you can tell if someone hasn’t kept up,” she laughed, adding, “Professor Lenk expected us to be able to participate in every discussion.” Lenk is already pleased with the results of the rigorous approach. “They’ve realized it’s not just pencil-pushing,” said Lenk. “The end goal is not the accounting numbers; it’s how you can influence big decisions.”
ENHANCED MACC PROGRAM EXPANDS OPPORTUNITUES FOR GROWTH Career competitiveness. Community. Professional skills development. These are some of the key advantages Department of Accounting students say they’re getting from our new Master of Accounting (MAcc) program, which launched this past fall.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT? Beginning this school year, the MAcc program was upgraded. Enhancements to the coursework included a new focus on professional skills — from written communication to technology integration — to give Department of Accounting MAcc students an edge in the workplace. Professor Derek Johnston explained, “Our specializations in Data Analytics and Systems [DAS], Financial Analysis, Auditing, and Reporting [FAAR], and Tax are now formalized. Plus, we added courses offered by the Computer Information Systems department so our accounting students can better understand the role and practical application of technology in their future jobs.” Upon choosing a specialty, each Master’s candidate now has access to even more extensive guidance for success in the selected field. They’re involved in research opportunities, they learn from professional writers about how to hone their communication skills in specific work settings, and they participate in guest lectures from those working in their fields. Additionally, Johnston said that a recent, successful improv session put on by Business Improv has found its way into the MAcc curriculum. The session helps students hone their verbal communication skills through a range of businessrelated scenarios.
Dean Dreckman, a MAcc candidate following the FAAR track said, “I’ve been blown away so far by all of our guest speakers and presenters. Each class has speakers who are current or retired partners, senior managers, managers, and so on.” He described each guest as providing invaluable insights on chosen career paths, as well as offering great networking opportunities. “Professor Lenk’s class, ‘Professional Practice: Accounting’ focuses on skills including professional and technical writing, presentations, decisionmaking, leadership, and more.” Dreckman said Lenk’s many guest speakers made for a forum-like course structure, and he was surprised to find the nearly four-hour class period flying by.
Announcing our first cohort of Accounting Hall of Fame Inductees Distinguished Department of Accounting Alumni Bob Hottman John Hughes Diana Sanderson-Mori
Distinguished Friend of the Department of Accounting Dr. Michael Vaughan
Early Career Rising Star Victor Amaya
GETTING THROUGH IT TOGETHER
PRACTICAL APPLICATION FOR A DISTINGUISHED RÉSUMÉ
Dreckman also noted that his MAcc cohort feels like family, and they’ve forged close relationships by supporting each other through stressful times — like rigorous exams and presentations. “This is true throughout the entire College of Business, and I believe it will last for a lifetime,” he explained. “As for the faculty, I have never felt more supported, encouraged, or rooted for. They spend countless hours to ensure that each and every student receives a top-notch education, and to steward an environment that stimulates a desire to achieve greatness.”
Dreckman and Peterson both said they chose to take the MAcc program to set themselves apart in the job market. Dreckman, who hopes to join a public accounting firm as an auditor this spring, said, “While getting 150 credit hours to be eligible for the CPA exam was important, I wanted another degree to show my dedication to my career and education. And CSU’s College of Business and the accounting department have such an incredible reputation in the industry, that my decision to continue my education here was simple.” Johnston said the program is designed to accomplish this goal, and to empower graduates to hit the ground running when they enter the workplace. “When you’re at work,” he said, “and you encounter a new transaction — it’s likely your manager knows the correct accounting treatment. But we’re teaching students how to do the research necessary to figure things out on their own.” These kinds of advantages make for betterequipped employees in the end; employees the College of Business hopes will rise through the ranks, as far as they would like to go.
Mary Peterson, who is on the Tax track, agreed, explaining that the small classe size allows each student to get to know and relate to each other as they complete their advanced studies. She has two internships Jennifer Gizzi, Professor Derek Johnston, Yanping Yang, Xin Jin under her belt, and can already see the benefits of the tax specialty courses as well. “In the tax class I had last semester, all we did was Johnston suggests a Fall-Spring format for students who want tax research,” she said. “And I can tell that it’s definitely to complete the MAcc in two semesters, but said there may something I’ll use every day on the job. That research was be flexibility in special circumstances. For the 2017-18 year, 29 very good and highly applicable. Additionally, the ethics class students enrolled, and the college has a goal of 40-50 in the opened us up to decisions we’ll have to face in our jobs.” future.
FACULTY FOCUS PROFESSOR THOMAS VANCE Professor Thomas Vance joined our faculty team beginning in the fall semester of the 2017-18 school year and is now instructing the Accounting Information Systems course. Vance said he values the opportunities to help students progress toward their long-term career destinations, and is particularly excited when he can help reframe their perceptions of accounting along the way. “In my experience,” he noted, “the content of this course is a departure from what my students think of as ‘accounting.’ Rather than learning about regulations or transactions, the emphasis is on the various purposes accounting information can and does serve inside organizations, as well as ensuring the quality of that information.” Vance did his undergraduate studies at Central Washington University, then completed his MBA at Penn State, and his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. His professional research investigates how accounting choices (such as incentives, monitoring, performance measurement, etc.) interact with social dynamics in the workplace to impact employee behavior (including qualities like effort and honesty). He came to CSU, he said, for the chance to work at a great university in an amazing setting. “Joining the College of Busines has given me the chance to work with engaged students, do interesting research, and enjoy a wonderful quality of life. I can’t ask for much more than that!”
COMBINING ACCOUNTING AND TECHNOLOGY Vance’s interest in accounting bloomed after his own post-MBA managerial experiences in the fields of operations, production, and logistics. Working at both Ford and Kenworth, he discovered the critical nature of accounting when he realized that every position he held was ultimately defined by accounting information – from establishing business objectives, and evaluating choices for reaching those objectives, to evaluating results, and measuring and rewarding employee performance. What he learned is that “the accounting information system is the foundation to answer all of these questions. Configuring information systems such that the right people have the right information at the right time, and are motivated to make the right decisions with that information is both challenging and fascinating.” That experience gives students a look into the real-world application of their work – and Professor Vance encourages collaboration and critical thinking at every step. Vance and his wife have three daughters; the oldest is currently studying at the University of Minnesota, and the younger two live at home with them in Fort Collins. He enjoys hiking and biking, reads fantasy fiction, and is a music lover.
2018 Calendar February 3 - April 14* AARP Tax-Aide 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Rockwell Hall
Department of Accounting
*Excludes March 10 & 17
Rockwell Hall 1271 Campus Delivery Fort Collins, CO 80523-1271
April 24, 2018
(970) 491-5102 biz.colostate.edu/accounting
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Department of Accounting Alumni and Awards Banquet
News and highlights from Colorado State University's - College of Business