Seanna Robey
 
 
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Seanna Robey

 

Wolfpack in the Black—NC State University

2011 AICPA Accounting Competition champ

Raleigh-Durham, NC

 

Snagging the Cash

Q&A with a past victor in the AICPA Accounting Competition

So what exactly does it take to go from average accounting student to top dog in a national accounting competition? 2011 reigning champ, Seanna Robey, raps about everything from wrangling teammates and joining the competition to hobnobbing with bigwig panelists and divvying up the super-sized cardboard check.


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ThisWaytoCPA:  Hello everyone. Our panelists, Seanna Robey the 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition champ and Rebecca Mahler of the AICPA will be joining us shortly. Feel free to start submitting questions!

Thursday September 06, 2012 10:58

Question

Katelin:  Hi Seanna, thanks for coming!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:00

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Seanna Robey:  Hi Katelin! I'm very excited to be here sharing my knowledge about the competition. Thanks for joining in!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:00

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ThisWaytoCPA:  Thank you so much for joining us! And thanks to all who have submitted questions. Seanna is our 2011 Competition champ and will be joining us for the next hour.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:01

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Rebecca:  Hi everyone!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:01

Question

Katelin:  Why did you decide to participate? I'm debating whether to join...

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:01

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Seanna Robey:  Katelin my advice is to go for it! I decided to participate because I was really interested in the topic of the competition and I knew it would be a great way to enhance my accounting knowledge. The $10,000 was a pretty good incentive too!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:03

Question

Jamie:  How did you put together your team?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:03

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Seanna Robey:  Jamie, that is a great question because forming a team isn't the easiest. I had a friend that really wanted to compete and he had another friend that wanted to compete. I pulled in our fourth member from one of my accounting classes. None of us had worked together before, but we were all really excited about competing.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:05

Question

John B.:  Were all of your friends accounting majors?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:06

How far along are you in this year’s competition?

Haven't started
( 33% )
Joined a team, but haven't done my submission yet
( 0% )
Still looking to round out my team of four
( 66% )
Completed our round one submission
( 0% )

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:07

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Seanna Robey:  John, it just so happened that all of my teammates were accounting majors and one was receiving a second major in marketing. Her marketing skills really helped us during the process, so don't feel the need to limit yourself to only accounting majors.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:07

Question

John B.:  Do you think that gave you an edge over the other competitors?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:07

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ThisWaytoCPA:  In the 2012 AICPA Accounting Competition you and your brainiest colleagues can go after the fame fortune—the top team nets $10,000— by solving an accounting conundrum. Think national deficit, taxes and Social Security. It’s all about how you and your team would advise a Presidential candidate. Make your recommendations, and you’re off and running. Make it to the finals, and you’ll go to Washington, D.C. to present. Be the best, and you go home with the cash.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:08

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Seanna Robey:  The marketing skills definitely helped us as we worked on our video and our presentation. When you make it to the final round you aren't just presenting research, you are making a business presentation. Going into the presentation with the idea of "trying to win the client" really helped us and gave us an edge over the competition.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:09

Question

Jamie:  Do you think my team really needs an Adviser?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:09

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Seanna Robey:  Jamie you absolutely need an adviser. I can't even begin to explain how big of a help our adviser was. We would not have won the competition without her and all of the faculty that helped us along the way.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:11

Question

David:  What was it like at the finals?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:11

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ThisWaytoCPA:  We have tools for advisors too to help them in the process:

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:12

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Seanna Robey:  David that is a great question that I am sure everyone is curious about. Reaching the final round was such a reward in itself, but then actually being in D.C. and making our final presentation on something we had worked on all semester was even better. We arrived in D.C. and got settled in one evening and then the next day was completely devoted to presentations. That evening, after the awards presentation, all three teams and advisers went to dinner and explored D.C. together. It was just such an exciting and rewarding experience.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:14

Check out Seanna and her team with their advisor Eileen Taylor

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:15

Question

Sara:  Can graduate students participate as team members?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:15

Question

Autum:  I am interested in entering the competition in the future, but not have any potential teammates right now. Do you have any advice on how to select people to join me or can I enter as a solo competitor?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:16

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Rebecca:  Great question, Sara! Graduate students can participate this year as Advisers. This would make you eligible for the trip package if your team made it to the finals but not the cash award. However, the networking and experience you gain at the finals, not to mention the leadership experience you get from advising a team is well worth it.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:18

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Seanna Robey:  Autum, on the ThisWayToCPA website you can search for teammates from other schools if you would like to join a team now. I am sure there are teams out there looking for another member. Another way to get a team together is to have a faculty member promote the competition in their class and get a list of students interested. That is actually the main way my team ended up getting formed. Our faculty adviser was one of our professors last fall and she was promoting the competition and organizing students that were interested in competing.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:18

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ThisWaytoCPA:  Still looking to recruit additional team members? Share this with your contacts to let them know about the competition. Find more team building materials on the competition Tips tab.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:18

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:19

Question

Autum:  Thanks!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:19

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Seanna Robey:  You're welcome!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:19

Question

Stephen:  How do you recommend preparing for the presentation part? Public speaking terrifies me.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:19

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Seanna Robey:  Stephen I am so glad that you asked that question! I am so proud of the way that my team prepared for the presentation and public speaking terrifies me too! My teammate's mother works in a business where sales pitches are important so she spent a few afternoons with us helping us present our speaking parts in the best way possible. Then my teammates and I did practice presentations with the faculty in our accounting department board room. We dressed in our suits, had our slide show presentation up, and presented just as we planned to in D.C. We even allowed them to ask us questions afterwards. It is much harder to present to professors that you know and work with than it is to present to strangers. I felt as if my professors were judging me more than the judges did in D.C., but we surely were ready by the time we got there!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:23

Question

John B.:  Were you able to network with any of the panelists?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:23

Who's been the most valuable resource for you so far?

Your team advisor
( 0% )
Another professor or advisor at your college
( 50% )
Friends or family
( 50% )
Classmates
( 0% )

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:25

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Seanna Robey:  John, we were given many opportunities to network with the panelists in D.C. The first night there we had dinner with the panelists and got to know them and also had the opportunity to talk with them after the presentations. One of my teammates used his networking with one of the panelists to land an internship with the PCAOB over this past summer.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:25

Question

Stephen:  Wow. You did a lot to prepare. Great suggestions, Seanna.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:26

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Seanna Robey:  Stephen, we did do a lot to prepare and put a lot of time in, but it was so worth it!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:26

Question

Sara:  How can I find out if I'm eligible or not?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:27

Question

Kristen D.:  Did you guys use any type of tools to coordinate your submission?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:27

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Rebecca:  Sara, thanks for asking about eligibility. All of the details of eligibility are outlined in the 2012 Official Rules. And if you continue to have questions, you can write us at thiswaytocpa@aicpa.org.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:30

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Seanna Robey:  Kristen, there were several things we used to coordinate our meetings and our submission materials. The most valuable tool we used was Dropbox. This allowed us to share our documents so that everyone always had the most recently updated copy. We also made sure to schedule all our our meetings on our Google calendar. Another tool we used simply for communication is called GroupMe. It is an online service that allows you to create a phone number for your group for free. So when you text or call that number, it texts or calls everyone in the group. Does that answer your question or are there different tools you are interested in hearing about?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:31

Question

Kristen:  I really like using GroupMe, that's a good suggestion!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:32

Question

Graham:  Was it more challenging to do the first round or second round submission? The video looks intense.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:32

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Seanna Robey:  Graham the second round was definitely much more challenging. The first round for us was a very top-level approach that simply helped us wrap our head around the general problem we were given. In the second round we really had to dig deep into the problem and think of a more specific solution, which was a challenge. The video also was quite time consuming. It took a while to edit exactly what we wanted to say and then we had to rush to get our parts filmed so that one of our teammates could paste it all together. A good video editing program is essential to creating the video. I'm a Windows person, but if you really want ease of creating a video talk to your Mac friends. My teammate was able to cut and paste video clips and add music and titles with a few clicks of the mouse.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:35

Question

Jorge:  Did you know a lot about the competition topic last year before you decided to sign up?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:36

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Seanna Robey:  Jorge, no I did not. Our topic was Fraud and Forensics, which isn't really taught in undergraduate classes. We spent a lot of time reading government regulations and talking with our professors. The topics that are chosen are ones that require research and thought, which allows all levels of college students to be able to make it to the final round. The solution that you come up with won't just be something you pull from your undergraduate class. I loved this aspect of the competition because I was able to learn a lot about something that my peers really knew nothing about.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:39

Question

Irene:  How much money do you get if you get 1st place? Do any other teams get money?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:40

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:41

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Seanna Robey:  Irene, if you win 1st place your team receives $10,000, 2nd place receives $5,000, and 3rd place receives $2,500. That amount is split evenly among your team members.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:42

Question

Jorge:  Are you planning to work in that field now?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:42

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Seanna Robey:  Jorge, I would love to work in forensic accounting, especially for the FBI. The competition really sparked this interest. I will just have to wait and see if my career path takes me there!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:44

Question

Irene:  Since you learned more in college than a "typical" college student, do you think employers are more interested in you?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:44

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Seanna Robey:  Irene, I was working on the competition as I went through internship recruiting and it truly gave me a leg up in the recruiting process simply because if gave me something of interest to talk to employers about. The people that I worked with over the summer thought it was really impressive that we won the competition, but I wouldn't say that they expect more out of me because of it. Winning the competition is proof that I have good analytical and critical thinking skills, but it doesn't make me any more knowledgeable in the auditing process, which is my service line.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:47

Question

Graham:  Is it a disadvantage not to have a video editing software? Will we be judged based on that?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:48

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Seanna Robey:  Graham, you probably have access to video editing software without knowing that you do. I believe that it comes as part of Mac computers software. I know for us, our university has it installed on the public access Mac computers. If you don't have any access to video editing software you will just have to think creatively as you plan our your video so that you can shoot it all in one clip. Either way you will be able to create a great, effective video.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:50

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Rebecca:  Just to add to Seanna's comment, the video cameras you are provided for the Semi-finals come with video editing software, so you can use that to create your video if you would like.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:51

Question

Irene:  What was it like when you found out you got first place?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:51

Question

Jamie:  What was it like to win? Did you school or professors do anything to reward you?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:51

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ThisWaytoCPA:  Check out Seanna and her teammates after they found out they won:

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:54

Here is Seanna and her teammates in D.C.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:54

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Seanna Robey:  Irene and Jamie, it was amazing when we realized that we won. They announced winners by announcing 3rd place first, then 2nd place, and saved 1st for last. It took us a second to realize that our name wasn't called for 3rd or 2nd place, so that meant we won. I remember we were all standing shoulder to shoulder at the back of the room and I squeezed my teammate in front of me and my teammate behind me was squeezing me. It was the most rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. Our professors and our school proudly displayed our winning check and placed us on the front page of our college's website and newspaper. It was a great accomplishment for NC State's College of Management and they were very proud.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:55

Question

Melissa:  Seanna, I'm curious, what was your favorite part of the entire competition experience?

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:55

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ThisWaytoCPA:  Make sure you pay attention to the official rules of the competition.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:57

Question

Jorge:  Thanks, Seanna.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:57

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Seanna Robey:  Melissa, my favorite part of the entire competition was the bonds that I created during the process. My team became good friends during the course of the competition. We spent so many hours together and we laughed, worked hard, and had a few arguments as well. Our team also created great relationships with the faculty in the accounting department. It was so great to get to know the faculty and have their input along the way. Those relationships helped me as I applied to graduate school at NC State and still help me as I have those professors for classes.

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:58

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Seanna Robey:  Jorge, you're welcome. Thank you for your great questions!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:58

Question

Jamie:  This was great. Thank you so much, Seanna!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:58

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Seanna Robey:  Jamie, I'm glad you found it useful! Thank you for participating!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:58

Question

Irene:  Thank you!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:59

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Seanna Robey:  Irene, you're welcome!

Thursday September 06, 2012 11:59

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Seanna Robey:  I have one piece of advice for everyone. Take the jump and join the competition. I promise that as you go throughout the process you will never say "I wish I hadn't done this". It is one of the most rewarding experiences and benefits you way more than just a monetary reward at the end!

Thursday September 06, 2012 12:00

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ThisWaytoCPA:  Thanks for joining today everyone! And thank you to our panelists, Seanna and Rebecca. If you have specific questions about the 2012 AICPA Accounting Competition, contact Rebecca the AICPA at ThisWayToCPA@aicpa.org.

Thursday September 06, 2012 12:01

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Rebecca:  Thank you everyone for the great questions and a special thank you to Seanna for being here with us!

Thursday September 06, 2012 12:01

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ThisWaytoCPA:  See how Seanna and her team rocked out their semi-final submission in this video:

Thursday September 06, 2012 12:01

Question

Graham:  Thanks for your time.

Thursday September 06, 2012 12:02