Kennesaw State Accounting Students Win Statewide Case Competition

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 10, 2021) — Three Kennesaw State University accounting students placed first at a statewide internal audit case competition where they had to respond to a scenario ripped straight from the headlines.

IIA Atlanta Case Study Competition Winners from Kennesaw State University
Case Competition Winners Sarah Fandrey, Kaylee Hogan, and Kayla Smith
Seven university teams from across Georgia participated in the finals of the 11th annual Bill Mulcahy IIA Atlanta Auditing and Advisory Case Competition, hosted virtually this year by the Atlanta Chapter of the Institute for Internal Auditors. Kennesaw State seniors Kayla Smith, Kaylee Hogan, and Sarah Fandrey took the first-place prize of $1,500 each.

Organizers created a scenario involving a ransomware cyberattack against the fictional Frontier Partners petroleum company that left it unable to provide oil and gas to its customers for eight days. Student teams assumed the role of Frontier’s internal audit department and drafted reports assessing the company’s internal control weaknesses and describing how to potentially correct and mitigate those issues. They presented their reports to a judge’s panel of accounting industry professionals.

The scenario was inspired by the May 2021 ransomware cyberattack that crippled Colonial Pipeline and caused gasoline shortages throughout much of the country.

“Although this was a fictional case, it very much resembled real-life events,” said Hogan. “That was important because, as students who are about to start their careers, being able to address problems, analyze situations, and create recommendations to mitigate the risks and issues prepared us to succeed outside the classroom.”

In accounting, internal auditors are responsible for evaluating an organization’s processes looking for gaps that could expose it to financial, regulatory, operational, or reputational risk. Internal audit touches all aspects of a business, not just finance. The competition provided students with a better understanding of internal audit’s role.

“This competition piqued my interest in internal auditing,” said Smith. “I never really considered a career in internal audit, but I enjoyed preparing for the competition. It has opened my eyes to possible future career opportunities.”   

Fred Masci, the Kennesaw State team’s faculty advisor and a part-time accounting instructor in the Michael J. Coles College of Business School of Accountancy, said expanding the students’ career potential is what the case competition is all about.

“Each winning team member not only received $1,500 cash, but they also were recognized by the Chief Audit Executives and the partners of several large public accounting companies and professional services firms who watched the event,” Masci said.

He added that the competition helps students become better critical thinkers and problem solvers, while also developing their research, collaboration, and presentation skills. Each of these qualities is important for any accounting professional to possess, he said.

For Fandrey, the most important thing the competition reinforced was the value of working well with others.

“The competition allowed us to expand our knowledge as a team,” Fandrey said. “We worked together to research the issues and provide recommendations. These are very practical skills that we need to have when going into the workforce.”

This year was the third time a Kennesaw State team has won the IIA Atlanta Case Competition since its inception in 2011. The event is named after Bill Mulcahy, the longtime IIA Atlanta board member, former Atlanta chapter president, and co-founder of Kennesaw State’s Internal Audit Center who passed away in May 2021.

-Patrick Harbin