University of California, Riverside

Anderson Graduate School of Management

School of Business News

A team of six students representing UC Riverside finished in the top eight of 28 teams after being selected for the finals at the 10th annual KPMG - Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA) Case Study Competition, held August 9-10 in Boston. Among those that the UCR team bested to get to the finals were notable schools such as UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, the University of Arizona, and USC.

For the competition each team was assigned a case, which the students researched, with guidance provided by their faculty advisors and KPMG professionals, with the goal of developing a practical audit and assurance solution to their case. The six-member UCR team, which was assembled by UCR Accounting Professors and Co-Faculty Advisors Michael Moore and Ted Mock, consisted of five undergraduate business administration students (Jose Hernandez, George Moreno, Ismaele Perez, Jacqueline Ugalde, and Lawrence Zhang) and one MBA student (Erin Peach). The team was assigned Merck & Co, Inc. as the mock client for their audit project, and had to role-play a KPMG team presenting to Merck's audit committee, using the KPMG client risk assessment approach. The team received supplemental coaching regarding strategic assessment from Professors Barry Mishra and Erik Rolland, and also received considerable input from KPMG's Marco Aquirre and former national judge Dawna Mason to help better focus their presentation.

Undergraduate student and team-member Lawrence Zhang said, "Public accounting requires working with a group for long hours each day with deadlines hovering. Through this competition, I worked with my team for long hours each day in the summer to prepare... There were disputes and issues within our group; however, we settled each issue with reasoning and cooperation which consequently helped build our team chemistry and trust. Our team's close relationship made us a more competitive and stronger unit."

There are 130 schools with ALPFA chapters, all of which were eligible to compete at the KPMG/ALPFA competition, an annual event which presents accounting students with the challenge of resolving real-world accounting issues. KPMG/ALPFA picked UCR among a select-few other universities to participate on an all-expenses-paid trip, including airfare and hotel for faculty and student team members. In the Western region, UCR was part of six teams (out of a total of nine) sponsored by KPMG/ALPFA.

Professors Moore and Mock accompanied the team to Boston, where the UCR team eagerly presented their case. Undergraduate student Jacqueline Ugalde said, "Before the competition, my stomach was in a knot. I was excited and nervous at the same time. As a first-time competitor, I was unaware of what to expect. All I knew is that I was prepared to present and ready to demonstrate the potential in UCR students." Her fellow UCR teammate and business undergraduate Jose Hernandez said, "Leading up to the competition I was confident that we would take first place due to the time, skills, and effort our team placed in our presentation."  Professor Mock added, "I can't think of any student group I have worked with that were more dedicated in their attempt to develop a quality analysis and presentation...  I am extremely fortunate and honored to have the opportunity to work with these students and with ALPFA in general."

All the hard work--involving hours of research, numerous group sessions, and several practice presentations--paid off when the judging panel deemed the UCR team worthy of reaching the finals of the competition, where the top eight of the 28 schools advance. Hernandez said, "I was there to demonstrate that the UC Riverside business program is one of the best programs in the UC system, if not the best, and I believe this was proven when we placed higher than UC Berkeley and USC [to get to the finals]." Zhang added, "When they announced we were in the finals, I jumped in the air, arms pumping. Making the finals was a true testament to our team's dedication and how our accounting program has progressed."

Professor Moore said, "The presentation in the regional competition was great. This was only surpassed by their unerring responses to very technical and difficult questions from the judges. I feel this aspect is what put them in the finals. The performance in the final round was also very good, but that round was very, very competitive." 

David W. Stewart, dean of the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, said, "Getting to the finals of this national competition is an especially notable achievement and has enhanced the reputation of UCR, AGSM, and our accounting program." He also cites the UCR business school's approach to teaching as a major factor in the team's success. "This is the type of team work and partnership that we are striving for at AGSM. This is a great example of how we prepare our students for the real world."

The student team members acknowledge the benefits they incurred from the overall experience of competing. Ugalde said, "This competition opened many doors for me, personally and professionally. I met many professionals and students that share my same vision and provided me an insight to the real world." Hernandez, who has determined his field of interest in accounting is in auditing and taxation as a result of this competition added, "The competition has allowed me to network with different professionals from companies such as KPMG, Deloitte, E&Y, JP Morgan, Prudential, Morgan Stanley and get to know them on a business and personal basis."

Caesar Hernandez, one of several additional UCR students who attended the ALPFA event in Boston to cheer for the UCR team and also to interview for jobs, said, "ALPFA is a great way to network and meet people, providing many opportunities for future employment". Hernandez is President of the ALPFA-UCR Chapter and encourages business students to join by contacting him directly at

Zhang, who looks toward a future in the corporate world, said, "Our school's accounting program has made great steps towards our goal for the 2020 Project, which is to design an auditing and assurance curriculum tailored to the student of the year 2020. However, with the progress we made, I feel we can match that goal before 2020. Our faculty has put in many hours to make our program what it is and I am proud to be a Highlander."  Professor Mock said, "AGSM's strategic plan has a goal of developing a 'spire of excellence' in Audit & Assurance.  Such a spire must include evidence of excellent education programs and excellent students.  This is one important step in achieving this goal."  Professor Moore also added, "UCR, AGSM and the Department of Accounting and Information Systems all benefit from our students doing well. The greatest benefit is for the students who participated this year and for those students they will coach for next year's competition. We have begun a legacy of raising our students to a new level of excellence."


From left:  Professor Moore, Jacqueline Ugalde, Jose Hernandez, Erin Peach, Lawrence Zhang, George Moreno, Ismaele Perez, and Professor Mock.

* Read the UCR press release.  

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