Accounting students Quincy Lan and Natalie Lonyai have won the 2017 Private Clients Business Innovation Challenge organised by global professional services firm PwC.
The challenge saw small teams of university students tackle real business problems faced by PwC clients, with Lan and Lonyai tasked with finding the most efficient and effective way for a client to operate their fleet vehicles.
The Curtin team’s winning proposal was to incorporate fully maintained operating leases, increase car salary packaging, encourage additional transportation methods such as Uber and coach hire services, and facilitate corporate partnerships and sponsors.
The team was awarded a cash prize and an opportunity to be fast-tracked through PwC’s student recruitment process, with Lonyai, a second-year student, securing a position in its end-of-year vacation program and Lan, a third-year student, set to begin working in its graduate program next year.
“This challenge brought an incredible opportunity to not only develop our problem-solving skills, but also to experience first-hand how PwC’s Private Clients team delivers innovative and thoughtful solutions to their clients every day,” says Lonyai.
“While we were brainstorming, our priority was the client’s values and their mission statement: we wanted our proposals to support those goals rather than just focus on the bottom line.”
As part of the competition, the Curtin team received a full-day of coaching and development from PwC staff, who encouraged them to think outside the box and be creative with their solutions.
“It felt surreal to have a PwC director as a mentor and although we felt intimidated at first, we valued every second of our meetings. Her support helped us to push ourselves harder, develop our ideas further and come up with our solution,” says Lan.
“We have always been interested in working at PwC, so this challenge was an ideal opportunity for us to meet people in the firm and learn more about what opportunities are available.”
The two Curtin students first met a year ago as student representatives for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and soon afterwards founded the Curtin Accounting Association after recognising there was no accounting-specific club at the University.
“We spent that mid-year break doing all of the administration and footwork to form the association, and officially launched in semester two, 2016. We are now in our second semester and are growing faster than ever,” explains Lan.
“We recently began charging for memberships to facilitate more impressive events; it has been extremely rewarding to see that the students believe a membership is valuable enough to pay for, and to hear such positive feedback after our events.”
Both students are looking forward to finishing their degrees and putting Curtin’s signature combination of theoretical and practical learning into use in the real world.
“We have several programs and opportunities on-campus to build our professional and personal skills, and there is a real focus on industry, which I believe gives Curtin graduates a real edge in the workforce,” says Lonyai.