Fisher students at Deloitte University

Challenged with helping a major firm advise its clients on increased Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, a group of undergraduate accounting students turned to virtual reality for a potential solution.

The idea earned the team from Fisher a second-place finish at Deloitte’s annual Audit Innovation Campus Challenge (AICC).

“Winning second place in this national competition meant our voices were heard,” said second-year team member Jolie Lieberman. “Every judge said the same phrase: ‘Incredibly innovative. Congratulations!’ The judges were Deloitte partners and managing directors in charge of ESG, so their recognition meant our hard work paid off in spades.”

Fisher’s team created a concept for Erudio (a Latin verb meaning “to educate”), a virtual reality training software program that proposed taking a two-prong approach to the challenge: educating Deloitte staff and clients on ESG and increased disclosure statements and educating high school students on the accounting profession.

The competition began in October with 55 teams from across the nation submitting a one-page essay detailing how Deloitte could advise companies and clients on ESG. The essay was evaluated by a panel comprised of Deloitte & Touche LLP Audit & Assurance professionals who determined the final 12 teams to advance to the final competition in April.

Those teams expanded their essays into full proposals and presentations that required prototypes and graphics.

“One of the challenges we faced as a team was that we definitely overestimated the amount of time we had to create the full presentation,” said Lieberman, who was joined on the team by second-year students Garret Clark and Carson Rhodes and first-year student Nick Madormo.

“In hindsight, we could have started working on the presentation sooner, but thankfully we still achieved a great result.”

Garret Clark, Jolie Lieberman, Carson Rhodes and Nick Madormo show off their Buckeye pride at the AICC competition.
Garret Clark, Jolie Lieberman, Carson Rhodes and Nick Madormo show off their Buckeye pride at the AICC competition.

The final competition, held at Deloitte University in Texas, was difficult, said Michael Easterday, senior lecturer in Accounting and Management Information Systems and faculty advisor to the group.

“The presentations are 12 minutes in length and there is a 12-minute Q&A session after the presentation,” he said. “The top three teams of the 12 competing then give their presentation a second time to everyone in attendance and are questioned by all six judges.”

Lieberman says the best preparation she had for the competition was Fisher’s Business Environment and Skills (BUSMHR 2292) course. During the class, students are assigned teams and must work together, communicate and create a presentation on how a business crisis was averted. It was her first real exposure to collaborating on a high-stake assignment.

“In the audit profession, you are constantly working on a team,” Lieberman said. “You may be working on an engagement that can take months or years to complete. This competition has taught me how to effectively work in a team, with all of us chasing after the same goal to be successful.”

Rhodes agreed with Lieberman. The competition was his first experience with a case competition and he not only learned a lot about teamwork and achieving successful results, but how to use constructive criticism to improve his work.

“This competition gave me further insight into the accounting profession and how to use collaboration skills on team-based projects in my future career,” Rhodes said.

As second-place winners, the group earned a $5,000 award for Fisher and $1,000 each. Perhaps more important than the financial award, each Fisher student was offered and accepted an audit internship with Deloitte.

“I could not recommend joining a case competition enough. I was really on the fence about accepting my spot on the team; I thought school would become overwhelming, I would not have time for my other extracurricular activities, and I would burn out,” Lieberman said. “None of these fears turned out to be true. Instead, I got to travel across the country, made friends I probably never would have, and gained invaluable knowledge I will leverage for the rest of my professional career.”

I gained invaluable knowledge I will leverage for the rest of my professional career.

Jolie LiebermanSecond-year accounting major