U of A Team Takes Second at ALPFA National Convention Case Study Competition

Members of the University of Arkansas student chapter of ALPFA, the Association for Latino Professionals for America, took second place in the KPMG Case Study Competition at the association’s national convention.

The team of Edith Castillo, Bahizi Eric Habineza, Edgar Camarillo and Matt Sisco represented the university and the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the convention in New York City. They took second place in a field that included 23 top universities from across the country. It is the fourth year in a row that University of Arkansas and Walton College students have participated in the case study competition.

“Beating schools such as Penn State and Norte Dame gave me the assurance the students from schools such as Arkansas are just as bright, intelligent and driven to not only be strong competition, but also come out on top,” Castillo said.

“Business is all about competition,” she said. “Who has the superior team, who has the better product, who has the better service. This competition truly tested our analytical skills, how we work under pressure and a time crunch, how well we work with one other especially when opinions differ, and how confident we can present to a client, which all has to be better than the other teams. The more I am exposed to other universities in a competitive manner, the more I feel prepared for the ‘real world.’”

In the competition, the team assumed the role of consultants and prepared a client presentation for top executives of a company. Until team members arrived in New York City and were inside the preparation room among the other teams, they had no knowledge of what the case study would involve. Teams had three hours to read a 17-page case study, analyze key issues, develop recommendations and build a 20-minute presentation. “This was my first time participating in any competition at college level and to take second place nationwide was just astonishing to me,” Camarillo said. “I had never won anything in college, and I knew we were competing against top schools like Penn State and the University of Texas, but that didn’t stop us from giving it all we had.”

KPMG sponsors the ALPFA student case study competition, which brings together students from schools around the country to solve complex cases and present their findings to KPMG and ALPFA accounting professionals at the annual national convention. The experience exposes the students to what it would be like to work at a Big Four accounting firm.

The students said the experience would help them build up the local ALPFA student group. “It will help our student chapter because those of us in attendance at the convention can bring our experiences and our stories from New York to help entice other students to join the ALPFA family so they can see the true power of what ALPFA can do for them,” Cisco said.

KPMG is an audit, tax and advisory firm and is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, operating in 155 countries and with more than 162,000 people working in member firms around the world.

“The experience I had at the convention was absolutely amazing,” Castillo said. “Not only did I grow and benefit from this event personally, but it made me realize the impact of being an ALPFA member.”

“As any business student, in fact any student of any major knows, networking is the key to landing that dream job,” she said. “By attending the convention, ALPFA members from the University of Arkansas are able to present the level of talent this organization has and it motivates great students who desire to stand out from the crowd to join because companies are noticing ALPFA.”

“ALPFA really is about making sure the students become better,” Habineza said. “And there are many opportunities available for that – the professionals that come from all over the country to give presentations and the annual convention are just a few of many. If the four of us can put together a case in three hours and win second place, there are surely others that could do the same and even come back on top next time.”