After winning first place in the Deloitte FanTAXtic Regional Competition, Nabeeha Bakhrani ’21, Giselle Downs ’20, Michal Kornecki ’21 finished in second place at the National Case Competition at Deloitte University in Dallas, Texas last month, defeating teams from University of Utah, Texas A&M, University of Nebraska, University of Northern Iowa, Syracuse University, Fordham University and North Carolina State University. This year was the first time UIC was invited to compete and this team has set the bar high for future competitions. Maggie Mei and Giselle Downs described their experience of preparing for and earning second place in this competition.
Forming the Team
We heard about the case competition from a UIC Business email, and we immediately reached out to our close friends whom we had competed with in the past. However, we were all juniors, and the competition required that there could only be two juniors on each team. We decided to form a team, but we quickly realized that neither of us knew any freshman or sophomores we could recruit for our team. We then reached out to our advisor, Mayra, asking for recommendations on other Business Scholars who she believed would bring the most value to our team. Mayra gave us a list of recommended sophomores, and we decided to reach out to Nabeeha and Michal to see if they'd be interested in joining our team.
Once we finalized our team and officially entered the competition, the case was given to us three weeks in advance and the deadline approached quickly. One of the most difficult hurdle we faced was finding a time to meet as a team due to all of our hectic schedules. In total, we only met three times as a team, and the day before the competition, none of us had our scripts 100% memorized. It was daunting going into regionals, but we went in that day with the mentality that we were going to have fun. We had spent hours researching tax law and making the PowerPoint look pristine. We were really proud of our deliverable and how aesthetically pleasing it was (it’s not easy making tax calculations look attractive and engaging. Overall, we had given our best effort - all we could do at that point was present to our best ability and be proud of the work we'd done.
One of the most exciting aspects of this experience was going to Deloitte University in Westlake, TX, and it did not fail to meet our expectations. Everyone working there was incredibly nice and helpful. Each floor had themed snack rooms with a specific food for whichever city it was representing, Chicago had Cracker Jacks. Thankfully, DU is a quarter of a mile long because you need all the exercise you can get with the free food on every corner. As if the food wasn't enough, DU also has a free Starbucks, which was a godsend during this competition.
We prepared the week leading up to the competition by reading about the tax laws given to us individually. The most intimidating aspect of the national competition was that we were only given a limited amount of time to prepare our deliverables. In prior case competitions, we received the case beforehand and were able to prepare our PowerPoint and create a script that we would memorize. This time, we were only given 2 hours to write a memo on Friday night. On Saturday, we had to create and present a 20-30 slide PowerPoint within 3.5 hours, and the information given was different from the night prior. It was difficult going in without knowing exactly what we were going to say or if we were going to be on time, but it turned out to be a blessing. This time, we all knew our material, so we focused on being conversational. Again, our mentality was that we were going to put in our best effort and just have fun during the presentation.
This competition was a great experience for us to not only learn more about Deloitte and the tax practice but to also work in a team with people we would have otherwise probably never worked with. We were ecstatic that we had placed in the competition because there were many other great teams. Overall, we are very grateful that Deloitte has invited UIC into this year’s case competition.