University of California, Riverside

Undergraduate Business Program

SoBA News

UCR Business Students Win First Place at the Internal Auditors Case Study Competition

Zahra Saghir, James Son, and Nancy Lam

A team of three UCR undergraduate business students took first place at the Los Angeles Chapter Institute of Internal Auditors Case Study Competition on October 1st, 2017.

Nancy Lam, James Son and Zahra Saghir are undergraduate business majors, and were the only undergraduates competing against teams of MBA students from regional universities, including Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Los Angeles. The 2017 competition consisted of 65 teams and 9 finalists.

Sponsored by the Los Angeles Chapter of the IIA, the competition brought together the best and brightest accounting and auditing students in LA area to analyze and present their case for responding to potential material fraud at a fictitious public company.

Teams presented their analysis to an audience of fellow students, internal auditing professionals, and firms such as Ernst & Young, RSM, KPMG and East West Bank.

“We approached the case study differently from our competitors. Instead of focusing on stating the problem, we focused on fixing it,” said Zahra Saghir, who used actual internal auditor controls which she learned from her last internship at Molina Healthcare Inc. “We used flowcharts to get our point across and the judges loved it."

“As a group, we were a powerhouse,” said Nancy Lam. “Internships played a large role in how we analyzed the case. We were able to connect the dots and overall believed that SAP would be the best solution for this case study.” 

Nancy Lam, who is concentrating in finance, interned at the UCR Audit and Advisory Services last summer. Teammates James Son and Zahra Saghir are concentrating in accounting and have also carried out internships in accounting firms. Collectively, they had experience working with programs such as QuickBooks, SAP, Salesforce, and Netsuite.

The team was advised by Laura Bishin and Niloufar Alian from UCR Audit and Advisory Services, and Daniel Almendarez, lecturer at the UCR School of Business. “Each member brought something different and important to the case study. Their diversity made them stronger,” said Laura Bishin, “A great example of when the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.” 

This was the second consecutive year for a UCR team to compete. In 2016, the UCR team was selected as finalists.

The Institute of Internal Auditors, who sponsors the event, is the premier internal audit organization in the world. The IIA has over 185,000 members and strives to promote the value of internal audit professionals, while also bringing together internal auditors to share information and experiences.



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