On November 7–8, the accountancy seniors—and fraternal twins—are heading up two teams to compete in this year’s regional Deloitte FanTAXtic case competition in Chicago. The first-place team will advance to Deloitte’s national event in January for the chance to win $10,000 (along with $2,000 for each team member).
As Kelly explains, “Michael and I have always been great friends with similar interests. We played sports throughout childhood and, almost inevitably, developed a friendly rivalry against one another.” She adds, “This case competition will be a fun blast from the past in terms of revisiting our competitiveness from childhood.”
The FanTAXtic competition focuses on a specific, real-world tax scenario, “mainly on the tax implications of our hypothetical client forming a new subsidiary,” Michael says. “We’ve been instructed to answer four main issues regarding the case, and it’s our job to advise the client on what steps to take.” Judges will score each team on its ability to reach the correct tax treatment—and how clearly and concisely members present their solution.
Accountancy faculty Jim Bodtke and Pete Lisowsky first approached Michael to recruit team members to participate in the competition.
“Michael’s solid technical performance in my tax class last spring, coupled with his friendly and confident presentation style, made him a natural selection to lead one of the teams,” says Prof. Lisowsky. “Kelly is a superb leader for the other team as she has impressed me with her initiative, knowledge, and positive attitude.”
Prof. Bodtke adds, “As faculty coaches, we knew from experience that leadership is critical goal in team formation. Michael and Kelly lead this competition with this exact quality. It will serve the Illinois tradition of ‘accomplishment through leadership’ to compete effectively in this venue.”
Michael and Kelly each selected four team members from a pool of over 50 entrants. Michael’s team consists of graduate student Ziye Yuan, senior Sean Kelly, and sophomores Matt Hebron and Lucenda Cai; while Kelly’s team includes graduate student Yuqing Qu, senior Alysia Mulcahy, and sophomores Alan Yin and Susan Zhao. They looked for qualifications like campus involvement, previous jobs held, and case competition experience.
Each team has met frequently to practice their presentations. Throughout the process, Kelly explains, captains “are expected to coordinate and lead meetings, drive project completion, and facilitate communication between our team and faculty advisors.” They also sought advice from faculty and staff on research methods and public speaking.
Once the competition is over, and they head into their last semester as undergraduates, the twins will go different directions: Michael plans to complete his MAS (Master of Accounting Science) here at Illinois, while Kelly hopes to pursue a career in forensic accounting or enter law school.
They have learned a lot as undergrads: “Don’t underestimate your abilities, or hold yourself back from applying to organizations or jobs because you’re afraid of a negative result,” Kelly says. Michael adds, “Get involved with something you’re passionate about, not just because you think it will look good on your resume. It’s better to have one or two things you’re passionate about than 10 things you don’t care about.”
As the competition draws closer, are they ready to square off? “Kelly and I have always been competitive, but it’s more of a friendly competition than anything,” remarks Michael.
“We’ve always wanted to see each other do well.”
The University of Illinois accountancy program is a consistently top-ranked national program providing a world-class experience of competitive accomplishment through peers. Deloitte is a major accounting and consultancy firm with offices worldwide and sponsors the Deloitte FanTAXtic competition around the globe and across the US.