Competition KPMG students compete in Madrid

Coming up with a plan to help Samsung compete with Apple in the smartphone market was part of the challenge for a group of Caymanian students who took part in an international competition in Madrid, Spain, last month. The KPMG internal case competition challenged students training to be auditors with the firm to compete against each other in real-life consultancy case studies. 


A group of Caymanian students travelled to Spain to take part in KPMG’s internal case competition.  

The Caymanians competed against 23 teams of prospective auditors from across the world at the competition in Madrid between 2 and 5 April. 

The four-person team of Samantha Hennings, Allison Hydes, Staci Scott and Brittany MacVicar, narrowly missed one of the top five finalist spots. 

The competition challenged the students to come up with solutions to realistic case-studies.  

One of the scenarios involved providing advice to Samsung with the aim of helping the company overcome Apple in the smart-phone market. 

KPMG partners and directors from around the world, including Alex Lawson a director at the Cayman office, posed as potential clients and listened as the teams offered innovative solutions to the problems posed. 

The second scenario challenged the teams to present a strategy to Banco Mediano Espanol on how to be robust and successful during a recession. 

Lawson, who was part of the judges panel on the competition, said the students were given three hours to read the case and come up with an action plan before presenting a 20-minute pitch to the client. 

He said this kind of consultancy work was part and parcel of the job of a KPMG auditor and the competition was designed to provide real-life experience outside the classroom for students. 

The Cayman team was made up of three students on KPMG scholarships and Brittany MacVicar, who is already an assistant accountant with the firm. 

MacVicar said the competition had been intense.  

“Everything was timed to the tee. It was very nerve racking but we had a great time. It helped that we all worked well together. 

The students from each country were chosen for the competition following an internal selection process. The four finalists from Cayman were chosen after a two-day training session culminating in the ‘Ace the Case’ competition. 

MacVicar said the team had come up with the theme, ‘making Samsung pop’ as part of their strategy for the first scenario. 

She said they had decided on a campaign to have Samsung customers suggest ideas for the marketing campaign. 

“The idea was that Samsung listens to its customers whereas Apple tells them what they want.” 

In their second presentation the group advised the Spanish Banco Mediano Espanol to fix its problems locally before diversifying into emerging markets to look for new opportunities. 

Lawson said the idea was to give students a more rounded idea of some of the job-skills involved in working for KPMG. He said the Cayman group had come close to making the top five, but had just missed out. 

“It wasn’t so much about who won. The three days were designed to give the competitors a full experience of client interaction, networking, access to the global partnership base. The idea was that they would have more skills and be more rounded at the end of the competition. It ticks a whole lot of boxes for us from a training standpoint.” 

There was some downtime for the competitors including a photographic scavenger hunt around Madrid. 

“We did get to do some sightseeing and to enjoy the sangria and the tapas,” added MacVicar. 

The competition also featured a challenge each group to produce a short video about their home country. The three-minute film, featuring the four girls as well as footage of some of Cayman’s landmarks, was rated in the top five of all the entries in the competition, based on the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook. 

Cindy Reid, KPMG Cayman assistant manager who travelled with the team as country liaison officer, said the competition was highly organized with each contestant asked to download an app for their smartphone, dictating the schedule.  

The opening part of the competition was held at the Palace Hotel in Madrid with the finals hosted at Santander City on the outskirts of the capital.