Release Date: March 7, 2022
BUFFALO, N.Y. — After distributing its products through brick-and-mortar retailers for more than a century, a leading manufacturer saw earnings tumble amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, despite cybersecurity concerns, the firm is considering a shift to e-commerce—and has asked your team to analyze their business and provide recommendations.
This was the task facing students in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s 18th annual PwC Challenge, held Feb. 18 on North Campus.
Teams of accounting and business undergrads had just one week to research the global household appliances industry, analyze the company’s financials and business model, and prepare a 10-minute presentation with their recommendations for the future.
In the end, the “Pencil Pushers” emerged victorious, winning a $250 gift card and PwC swag for each team member. The winning team was made up of first-year business student Preeti Shenoy; sophomores Sebastian Affronti, Seika Dingel, Jonathan Forrester and Lauren Taips; and accounting junior Brian Tierney.
Sponsored by PwC at nearly 100 business schools nationwide, the competition tests students’ analytical, decision-making and communication skills on a real-world business problem. Locally, 23 students participated in the School of Management’s competition.
“During the PwC Challenge, I got to grow my critical-thinking, time management and teamwork abilities,” says Dingel, a business administration major from Corning. “I also learned how to manage my work. With little time to prepare, we had to focus on the quality of our work, rather than the quantity.”
In preparing their analysis, each team benefited from the expertise of mentors from PwC and the School of Management faculty. Chelsey Jordan, BS ’19, MS ’20, digital assurance and transparency associate at PwC, and Martha Salzman, clinical assistant professor of accounting and law in the School of Management, worked with the winning team.
Then, during their final presentations, each team presented to and fielded questions from a pair of PwC judges: Keith Belote, BS/MBA ’93, assurance partner and managing partner for PwC’s Buffalo office, and Mark Peer, BS ’14, MS ’15, manager in Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services at PwC.
“The PwC Challenge gives you a glimpse of what the business world is like,” says Affronti, an accounting major from Pittsford. “In the real world, sometimes you’re given a deadline on short notice—this competition demonstrates what that’s like. It’s valuable experience, and future School of Management students should take advantage of it.”