MBA candidate helps his team to a national title

For the second consecutive year, a SUNY Oswego MBA student returned from Beta Alpha Psi’s international Project Run With It business consulting competition as a member of a winning team.

Michael Kurdyla with Florence Kirk and Richard Skolnik.Michael Kurdyla, a fifth-year accounting major scheduled to graduate with an MBA in May, teamed this summer with three students from other business schools to produce a winning project for the not-for-profit Community Health Awareness Council of Mountain View, Calif.

Oswego’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor society for financial information students—Kurdyla is president this year—received $1,000. So did the chapters of Kurdyla’s teammates’ schools: the University of South Florida, Utah State University and Western Washington University.

Last year, SUNY Oswego’s Brittany Vetter also helped a team win in the Project Run With It competition, which is sponsored by Moss Adams, a CPA and business consulting firm.

Kurdyla, of Thompson Ridge in Orange County, said the whirlwind trip in August to the competition in San Jose proved to him that he could work in an intense team atmosphere to produce a real-world consulting presentation.

“Being able to meet a tough deadline was a great thing to take away from the competition,” he said.

Intense preparation

When the 60 competitors from business schools around the nation, as well as Australia and New Zealand, arrived at the event, they didn’t know who their teammates would be or which of three San Jose-area not-for-profit organizations they’d be asked to help.

The client turned out to be the health awareness council, which needed website reconstruction, advice on improving fundraising and other help. Kurdyla’s team included a member with graphic design experience, and Kurdyla did his version of phone-a-friend to contact a Web programmer he knew.

In less than the equivalent of 24 hours, working early mornings and late nights around a full day of community service, the team produced a 12-minute PowerPoint presentation—two minutes too long.

“Right before we went into the (judging) room, it was still at 12 minutes long,” Kurdyla said. “But we absolutely nailed it on the final run. The 10-minute mark came up and we were done. We delivered a perfect pitch and we knew we had won it.”

Besides the website reconstruction, the project produced business advice for the not-for-profit council, such as keeping a database of the many graduate students who work for the organization during their schooling, so the organization can contact them for advice, service and donations long after.

Salutes faculty

Kurdyla gave credit to faculty of the School of Business—particularly Beta Alpha Psi adviser Florence Kirk, professor of accounting—for their attention to individual students.

“(Professor Kirk) is just a tremendous asset to this whole School of Business,” said Kurdyla, who works as a graduate assistant for Kirk. “Especially the accounting program and our Beta Alpha Psi chapter. She keeps in touch with the Big Four accounting firms and the regional firms. She’s always there, whatever you need her to do.  She’s been such a mentor to me throughout my experience at Oswego.”

Kirk said the reward for her is working with talented students like Kurdyla and Vetter, and watching them mature to take on challenges like Project Run With It.

“The initiative they take is what distinguishes these two students,” she said. “They’ll do well in the job market, as well. We’re very proud of them.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: National honor—Michael Kurdyla, center, a fifth-year MBA candidate and accounting major in SUNY Oswego’s School of Business, displays his team’s plaque for winning an international Project Run With It competition for members of Beta Alpha Psi, an honor society for finance information students. With him are Florence Kirk, adviser of Beta Alpha Psi’s Oswego chapter and professor of accounting, and School of Business Dean Richard Skolnik.

(Posted: Oct 28, 2010)

Tags: school of business, mba, honors, business, accounting