VSB team wins $10,000 prize

Julie Balzarini

A team from Villanova has won $10,000 in the PricewaterhouseCoopers xACT Challenge. Short for “Extreme Accounting,” xACT is a case competition that assesses the critical-thinking, team-building and presentation skills of the best undergraduate accounting students from schools around the country.

“PwC launched the xTREME Games in 2002, to increase students’ exposure to professional services and the world of public accounting,” the competition’s Web site said. “Since then, the games have grown substantially with over 85 schools involved, more than 2,000 teams comprising 10,000 participants and $1 million in prize money awarded.”

The winning Villanova team was composed of sophomores Christina Brenner, Carly King and David Reddy, juniors Katherine Forney and Melissa Schierl, and faculty adviser Ken Hiltebeitel.

“He helped us put our team together,” King said of Hiltebeitel. “By being our faculty adviser he won money as well, which he put back into the accounting department.”

The national finals were held at PwC’s headquarters in New York on Jan. 22 and 23, concluding weeks of competition among 418 teams from 42 colleges and universities across the country. More than 2,000 undergraduates participated this year.

Teams from Villanova University, Hampton University, La Salle University, Louisiana State University and the University of Illinois – which was named the overall winner – earned placement in the national finals by winning xACT competitions on their campuses.

They were then selected from a pool of the 42 winning campus teams and awarded $10,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York.

The on-campus competition at Villanova was held in November, with six teams of Villanova students participating.

The top five national finalists were chosen by the judges who viewed videotapes of their performances, according to Forney.

“We got to meet a lot of students from the other schools,” King said. “We got taken out to see “Wicked” and a really nice dinner by PricewaterhouseCoopers with the other teams.”

The finalists presented their case solutions to a real-world accounting issue to a panel of PwC national and New York leaders who hosted and judged the competition. The issue focused on evaluating two financial options for a fictional U.S.-based energy company.

“We had an option for the company of either reinvesting it in research development or investing it in another company,” Brenner said.

The teams were made up of two sophomores in their first accounting courses, one junior accounting major and one student who was either enrolled in his or her first accounting course or an accounting major or minor.

A team from Villanova was also a national finalist in 2003.