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SoA first-years secure first prize in Deloitte competition
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 22/09/2023

From left to right: Matthew Privett, Sansar Maharaj, Anthony Oosthuizen Keegan Kisten Nicola Vermeulen

Photo credit: Lelethu Roto

In an impressive display of innovation and expertise, a team of five first-year BAcc students from Stellenbosch University’s School of Accountancy (SoA) has secured the top prize in the Deloitte Chartered Accountant (CA) of the Future 2023 Project competition.

The competition required the students to develop a digital transformation strategy by placing emphasis on the SAICA CA (2025) competency framework and applying CA (2025) acumen such as digital disruption, value creation in a business context, critical thinking and integrated thinking.

Keegan Kisten, Anthony Oosthuizen, Matthew Privett, Nicola Vermeulen and Sansar Maharaj’s winning digital transformation strategy not only addressed the benefits of digitisation but also the accompanying risks.

Initially, seven teams from the SoA, each consisting of five to six students, took part in the project and had to do a presentation to their peers and lecturers before moving on to the next round. Only the two top performing teams were chosen to pitch their ideas to the “innovations committee of a company” in the final on 5 September at Deloitte’s offices in Cape Town. The two SU teams competed against the top four teams from the University of the Western Cape for the grand prize.

The teams were tasked with presenting their strategies to the "innovations committee," focusing on technologies to digitise and digitalise revenue business processes, how this digitalisation could enhance the triple bottom line, plans for digitising the entire revenue business process, and qualitative considerations.

The winning team’s strategy centred around making use of an enterprise resource planning system called Odoo to digitise and streamline revenue processes within small to medium sized businesses. The strategy aims to enhance efficiency, productivity, and sustainability in these businesses’ operations. They argued that by leveraging Odoo's capabilities, businesses can achieve better integration, automation, and data-driven decision-making in their financial processes.

Kisten said the decision to participate in the Deloitte CA of the Future Project competition stemmed from their collective desire to embrace innovation and challenge themselves.

“We were excited about the opportunity to delve into the world of digital transformation within the accounting sphere, and to align our passion for technology with its potential to shape the future of the industry. It was a huge learning opportunity for us all and it proved to be a success as we have widened our knowledge on digitisation.”

He said they intend to leverage this knowledge in future interactions involving similar situations and to share their insights with eager and interested peers.

Ms Sybil Smit, lecturer in the SoA, said the competition was a good experience for the first-year students who took part voluntarily and formed their own groups.

“The project enabled them to practically apply knowledge they have accumulated in our new DLA (Digital and Leadership Acumen) modules in the first semester, and integrate it with accounting and business processes. It also provided them the opportunity to further develop certain graduate attributes, such as using knowledge gained in theory together with their own research to come up with a unique solution to a problem through the use of technology.

“They worked in a diverse team, with tight deadlines and each group member had to contribute during the actual presentation. We are very impressed with how the students took ownership and how enthusiastic they were to take part. They conducted themselves in a manner that makes us extremely proud.”

According to the SoA the victory not only reflects the students' dedication and innovation but also underscores Stellenbosch University's commitment to preparing its students for the ever-evolving demands of the accounting profession in a digital age. The Deloitte CA of the Future 2023 Project serves as a testament to the potential of young minds to drive meaningful change through digital transformation strategies.