Students Find Real Solutions for Local and Game Businesses

In response to immediate problems experienced by local businesses in the Bloomington, Indiana area, a program established by Indiana University is finding solutions. Each fall semester, graduates students in their Kelley School of Business complete field consulting projects while being mentored by faculty advisors.

More than 20 teams of four or five graduate students from the MBA in Accounting (MBA/A) and the Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) programs partner with local businesses to complete these field consulting projects. One local business needed a money-making strategy using its expertise in supply chain management and machine assembly. Another wanted recommendations on pricing, an inventory management system, and an e-commerce strategy.

At the conclusions of their projects, teams developed written executive summaries and implementation plans, and made presentations to their host “client” management teams . The variety of consulting services performed by graduate student teams included activity-based costing, benchmarking, business plans, business process improvement, feasibility studies, strategic pricing reviews, profitability analysis, software selection, and marketing research.

Martin Donnelly, SAGP director and coordinator of the field consulting projects said, “The Systems and Accounting Graduate Program is a transformational experience. Our three-credit, field-consulting course is an integral part of that approach and gives our students hands-on, real-world experience while providing superior value to supporting client organizations. This course is a win-win for our graduate students, our client companies and graduate education at the Kelly School of Business.”

This is also the first time that the teams will compete for a monetary prize. Their overall performances, client satisfaction rating, and final presentations are factors that will be weighed by the panel of judges. The top three teams will share $5,000 to be awarded at the inaugural January 19th dinner where the keynote speaker will be Martin L. Wilkinson, vice president of information technology for John Deere & Company. The John Deere Foundation is the sponsor for the dinner and awards.

Also concerning consulting, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is asking online game players in high school and college to develop a winning proposal to save an ailing record company named BigNoizz. The Turnaround Game introduces players to the music industry and the wider CPA experience in the business world. The AICPA developed the game with its marketing communications firm, Wunderman New York, as the latest installment of its award-winning Start Here Go Places campaign, designed to interest high school and college students in an accounting career.

Louise Hraur De Sina, AICPA director advertising and communications, told DMNews, “It’s to build awareness and understanding about the CPA profession and to enhance perception and change misperceptions of the profession. Another reason is to increase the recruitment of college students majoring in accounting and [for them to] pursue CPA certification.”

Sina continued, “ Generation Y, or the Millennials, have been online all their lives. The game environment is an environment in which they’ve grown up, so it’s a natural fit.”

Barry Melancon, president and CEO of AICPA, said in a prepared statement, “We want to reach out to younger audience and give them a sense of what being a CPA is all about. Since students are so interested in games and music, we believe a vehicle like the Turnaround Game clearly demonstrates the challenges and rewards that CPAs face every day.”

DMNews reports that accounting enrollments in U.S. colleges and universities have increased 19 percent over a four-year period, according to a 2005 AICPA survey. Access the online game at www.theturnaroundgame.com and information on the Start Here Go Places campaign is available at www.starheregoplaces.com.

Deloitte & Touche used an online game called the “Virtual Team Challenge for High School” to target college-bound high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, according to DMNews. BrandGames, New York developed the two-week challenge with the goal of its players to win the accounting and consulting business of a fictional publicly traded company.

The game encouraged team play as the team players assumed different positions at a large professional services company, much like Deloitte, according to DMNews. They developed business strategies to solve operational and profitability situations with their company as Deloitte volunteers advised the teams.

Jim Wexler, BrandGames’ executive vice president of marketing, told DMNews, “Intuition and common sense tells Deloitte leadership, and firm research confirms, that video games have made a profound impact on the next generation of employees. Echo boomers, or call them and every generation in the foreseeable future the ‘game generation,’ view the world, communicate, learn, problem solve and collaborate in ways unlike any generation before them.”

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