Accounting juniors take first in PwC Challenge

Clockwise from top left: Hnu Thaper, Assistant Professor Michael Dambra, Chris DiDuro, Abidul Alam, Emily Wheeler, Kudakwashe Kaseke and Marley O’Donnell.

Release Date: November 4, 2015 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. — A team of five juniors in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s accounting program will share a $1,000 prize as winners of the 12th annual PwC Challenge, held Oct. 30 at UB.

Abidul Alam of Buffalo; Kudakwashe Kaseke of Harare, Zimbabwe; Marley O’Donnell of Plainview; Hnu Thaper of Dix Hills; and Emily Wheeler of North Tonawanda made up the winning team.

Sixty School of Management students participated in this year’s PwC Challenge, which is sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and helps accounting students hone their analytical, problem-solving and teamwork skills by proposing solutions to a real-world business problem.

Teams analyzed the business operations of a game development startup and proposed data-driven solutions for increasing revenue and minimizing costs without damaging customer loyalty. Each five-person team was given two weeks to prepare with the help of a faculty coach, PwC mentor and student mentor before delivering their proposals to a panel of industry experts.

Michael Dambra, assistant professor of accounting and law, served as the winning team’s coach, and John Gorman, BS ’14, MS ’15, assurance associate at PwC, was their mentor. Chris DiDuro, a senior accounting student who won the PwC Challenge last year, assisted as their student mentor.

This year’s PwC judges were Andrew Peer, BS ’06, and Everett Pefley, BS ’06, both assurance senior managers, and Katie Sullivan, assurance manager.

The winning team will advance to the next round of the competition, when a video of their presentation will be judged against submissions from about 50 other business schools across the country. In January, PwC will name the finalist teams and invite them to present at the company’s New York City office.

Placing second in the school’s PwC Challenge were juniors Maxwell Aiken of Strykersville; Ryan Dunn of Clifton Park; Young Sun Hong of Seoul, Korea; Thomas Jost of Agawam, Massachusetts; and MinYoung (Shane) Kim of Seoul, Korea.

The third place team was made up of sophomores Thomas Baldinger of Orchard Park, Brian Lau of Old Bethpage, Westin Moreno of Williamsville, and Justin Riegle and Trevor Riegle of Victor.

Coming in fourth were juniors Xin Guan of Shinan, China; Sajid Sadman of Chittagong, Bangladesh; and Zhiming Xiao of Brooklyn, as well as sophomores Jeffrey Fequiere of Wyandanch and Trevor Shaw of East Amherst.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

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