NEW YORK, April 13, 2018 — Deloitte and the Deloitte Foundation hosted the 2018 National Audit Innovation Campus Challenge (AICC) at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, on April 6-7, awarding students of the University of Arizona first place for its idea to develop and use a proprietary artificial intelligence application to conduct audits of corporate sustainability reports.
The AICC, however, is not your usual student case competition. The competition is at the intersection of innovation and the evolution of the audit and assurance profession, and engaging and helping develop the profession’s future talent.
The AICC is a nationally-driven program attracting students and faculty from across the country. The competition provides students with an opportunity to leverage their skills and experience through practical application, while at the same time introducing them to the types of complex challenges they can be expected to encounter and the analytics skills they will likely need when they enter the business world.
“The nature of many professions is rapidly shifting. Technology, innovation and process improvement continues to disrupt and redefine the way an audit is conducted at an unprecedented rate,” said Erin Shannon, managing director, change management, Deloitte & Touche LLP.
“It’s our people, however, that are our most valuable resource and it is critically important that the next-generation of talent possess proficiency with emerging technologies and data analytics, as well as help bring new innovative solutions to stakeholders,” Shannon added. “This competition provides opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and creativity to real challenges facing today’s auditors and this year’s winners showed innovative thinking.”
Guided by faculty advisors and Deloitte subject matter leaders, students were challenged to find new ways to bring audit and assurance services to the marketplace using technology. Student teams from 52 colleges and universities participated in the event, with 12 teams advancing to the final round. Among the collegiate national finalists were Baruch College, Brigham Young University, Clemson University, University of Illinois, University of Kansas, Louisiana State University, Michigan State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Rutgers University, University of South Carolina and Trinity University.
The University of Arizona team included Nicole Naslund, Jessica Stelmach, Hang Khuu, Ben McDowell, Hannah Miller and Jacob Uthe. The team’s winning submission focused on a recommendation to enter the market of auditing corporate sustainability reports in anticipation of potential regulatory guidance in the coming years. The submission cited Deloitte’s unique position to conduct a sustainability audit and introduced an artificial intelligence tool, “Deloitte Danni,” that could help auditors measure an array of environmental metrics and compare those readings to sustainability guidance.
“I am extremely proud of our team this year and especially grateful to the Deloitte Foundation for hosting this unique program which brings students together to help further evolve the skills likely necessary for the auditor of the future,” said Rob Stussie, University of Arizona faculty advisor. “Deloitte has introduced some of the audit and assurance profession’s leading technology applications, and these students will walk away with a greater knowledge of how they can play a role in this technology-driven future.”
Deloitte is leading the profession in transforming audit and assurance services and retooling the traditional auditor toolkit by advancing ways for the audit and assurance profession to intersect with innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and even drones – and it’s doing this at the ground level up. The Audit Innovation Campus Challenge is just one mechanism that looks to harness the creative power and innovative thinking of college students to jump-start new technology applications for the profession and further their understanding of how audit and assurance are evolving in the real world. It is also important for educators to understand, and be able to teach their students, the current and trending audit and assurance topics.
Earlier this year, the 2018 Robert M. Trueblood Seminars for Professors took place at Deloitte University. More than 60 leading accounting and auditing educators and professionals attended sessions in February and March to learn firsthand some of the latest developments in the audit and assurance practice. The Seminars center on more than 20 case studies that cover some of the most challenging financial accounting and auditing issues that professors can incorporate into their classrooms. For more than 50 years, the annual seminars, hosted by the Deloitte Foundation and the American Accounting Association, have provided cutting-edge resources and hundreds of case studies that help keep university faculty and their students connected to the real-world issues and challenges currently facing the audit and assurance and accounting professions.
“The Deloitte Foundation’s approach to helping prepare students for careers is twofold,” remarked Erin Scanlon, audit and assurance partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP and Deloitte Foundation board member. “In addition to initiatives like the ground-breaking AICC that engage students, longstanding programs such as the Trueblood seminars provide educators with insights and rich case examples they can bring to the classroom to help develop students’ technical, research and critical thinking skills, and help better prepare the next generation of leaders.”
For more information about the competition and the participants, please visit Audit Innovation Campus Challenge.
Top photo of winning Eller College team and Deloitte representatives by Kathryn Maxwell.
About the Deloitte Foundation
The Deloitte Foundation, founded in 1928, is a not-for-profit organization that supports education in the U.S. through a variety of initiatives that help develop the talent of the future and their influencers and promote excellence in teaching, research and curriculum innovation. The Foundation sponsors an array of national programs relevant to a variety of professional services, benefiting middle/high school students, undergraduates, graduate students and educators. Learn more about the Deloitte Foundation.
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including more than 85 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 private and middle market companies. Our people work across more than 20 industry sectors to make an impact that matters—delivering measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to see challenges as opportunities to transform and thrive, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them.