MAcc Blog

In the Castle—Learning about Sustainability Reporting

We had the morning off to rest and explore.  Some got up early and took the bus to Utrecht to explore and shop.  And some stayed on campus and slept or walked.

After a tour of the castle and lunch, we enjoyed an afternoon in the castle learning about sustainability reporting and assurance services from Marieke Milkenberg, manager of KPMG.

After several years as a financial auditor, Milkenberg joined the sustainability reporting advisory practice.  With forty professionals in The Netherlands and 700 world wide, this practice is growing.

Milkenberg shared information about the types of discussions that she has with clients who want to begin to report on their sustainability efforts. As in financial reporting, the emphasis should be on identifying material risks and determining the best ways to address them.

For example, a bank may being doing a great job on water conservation and energy efficiency, but in the grand scheme of things, those are not where their great exposures are. Reporting on their impacts on making money available for economic development as well as their personnel decisions is far more important.

The students then had a spirited debate on whether or not corporate responsibility reporting was merely green-washing and whether the next step in the development of this reporting is integrated reporting.

Thursday has us going to Amsterdam and Diemen with a focus on financial reporting and corporate governance.  We will then tour the Anne Frank House and enjoy a traditional pancake dinner.

—Dr. Robin Clement, Director, Master of Accounting Program | Accounting Department Coordinator | Senior Instructor

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Learning about Money Laundering–and Exploring the Winter Market

Today was a very engaging day with a great balance of learning and fun. We began the day with yet another delicious breakfast, complete with assorted pastries, meats, cheeses, fruits, and coffee. The Dutch definitely know how to make delicious breakfasts (and lunch and dinner!).

We then listened to a presentation by Ferdy van Beest, an assistant professor here at Nyenrode. He discussed the issues of enforcement and supervision of accounting in the Netherlands. He spoke a lot about the most common areas where supervision is necessary, while also explaining the different means of regulation throughout the country. It was a good opportunity to compare the enforcement mechanisms in the Netherlands and the United States.

In the afternoon, we listened to a presentation by Dirk Kolkman about money laundering in the Netherlands. This was also very interesting, and we learned about the different means of bringing cash from illegal sources back into the country through elaborate financial schemes. We also learned about the means of detection and how the regulatory agencies work to prevent money laundering.

After a very informative day, we decided to head into Amsterdam for the evening. We all went shopping in the various outdoor Christmas markets, as well as the many shops. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and we all really enjoyed walking the streets and taking in the sights and sounds of Amsterdam.

Overall, the trip so far has been absolutely incredible. Learning about international accounting while also enjoying such a beautiful country has been an experience we will all remember for the rest of our lives. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us Ducks in Amsterdam!

—Mitchell Van Dyke ’13, MAcc ’14

Regulation Environments–and a Walking Tour

On Monday we started the morning with a discussion on the different financial regulation environments, rules-based vs. principles-based. Nyenrode professor Ferdy van Beest led the discussion.

In Europe, the regulatory systems are more principles-based, and there is the ability for companies to make accounting decisions based on a more “true and fair view” approach. This means that if there was a complex transaction that would be misleading to readers of the financials if reported in the more common approach, they could adjust their accounting approach so that the transaction would be presented in the fairest way.

In the United States this only happens on rare occasions and requires extensive disclosure. The rules-based approach leads the U.S. to be more conservative in their accounting and reporting so that they stay within the set rules and are not open to any regulatory infraction, while Europe thinks in a more critical way of how the accounting treatment would present the information in the fairest way to investors.

In conversations that I have had with a client that has a Europe-based parent, I see these two sides of accounting treatment come out, with the U.S. management trying to implement corporate policies that are based on a principle based system. This discussion gave me a good insight into how European companies differ in the way that they decide on policies.

That afternoon, we went to the Deloitte office to meet with Christian Bout and Ralph ter Hoeven and further our discussion on rules- vs. principles-based accounting. The discussion led to another interesting topic: even within the European Union some countries like the more rules-based and others like principles-based and this can be seen within the country’s own GAAP. It is interesting to think of a variety within the EU because when in the US you see most foreign reporting entities as having the same policies that fall under IFRS, when in reality these entities have their own cultural preference on rules- vs. principles-based policies. The Netherlands have stayed with a more principles-based system as this falls more in line with the culture of the country.

We spent the evening in Amsterdam on a walking tour. We ate at three restaurants where we tried some interesting dishes and amazing dessert! We walked by the Anne Frank museum, the old city orphanage, the red light district, the city university, and plenty of bikes. Our wonderful tour guides gave us the history of the city and told us how the houses were purposely built to slope in towards the street so that people could hoist meats and cheese to the attic to store. In total we probably walked more than two miles around the city. The tour was great and it was nice to see the city from the local perspective.

—Nicole Bozanich ’12, EY Associate

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Getting Acquainted with Dutch Culture–One Meal at a Time

Today was the Master of Accounting students’ second day in the Netherlands and our first day of scheduled activities. Our day started out with a traditional Dutch breakfast, consisting of an enormous amount of bread, cheeses, and meats. Some were brave enough to try the soft-boiled eggs as well.

After breakfast, we had a few hours to ourselves. During this time, some of the MAcc students took a nap, visited, played cards, and toured the campus.  Entering Nyenrode, you are greeted with a herd of deer, two emus, and a few peacocks. It turns out these creatures, and many of the statues on campus, are actually gifts from graduating students.  Wandering around campus, students explored the castle and even fed the deer.

We then headed into Utrecht, a neighboring city, for some activities. First, we ate lunch at Restaurant Lebowski where local Dutch cuisine was available. As we soon learned, the “kroket” is a very popular dish that is difficult to describe. Some say it resembles the flavor of chicken pot pie. Additionally, we learned that people in Holland eat mayonnaise with just about everything, including fries.

After lunch, we embarked on our adventurous activity of the day, climbing the Dom Tower. The tower has 465 steps and a great story. While climbing the tower there were many history-filled breaks. Mitch graced us with his musical talent and played a delightful tune on a smaller replication of the bells by hitting his fists on the keys. We then stopped to see the room filled with bells, where a couple students had the pleasure of actually striking the bells. Finally we arrived at the top and were rewarded with a great view.

After our afternoon exercise, we took a boat tour on the Utrecht canals. During the tour we learned more about the history of the city and about many of the local buildings.

Next on the itinerary was a drink in a bar that was built in a church, BelgianBeer Cafe Olivier. We were able to sample the local beverages and snacks. After a short walk, we reached our dinner destination, Restaurant den Draeck. Dinner was a three-course meal filled with great conversation.

Today was a great opportunity to learn more about the Dutch culture and to get acclimated to our new surroundings.

–Dani Sargant, MAcc ’14

Students from the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program at the Lundquist College of Business are spending ten days on a study tour in The Netherlands. Follow their adventures on the MAcc blog.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

What Does Your "O" Stand For?

What does your “O” stand for?

It’s a familiar story. Graduate from high school, go to college, get a degree, land your dream job. Pretty simple, right?

What they don’t tell you is how hard you have to work, outside the classroom, to promote your brand and ultimately put yourself in a position where you’re being considered for your dream job. At eighteen, I wasn’t ready for that and very few of my peers were, either. Unless you’re extremely lucky, it’s all on you. Even then, having done all the necessary steps, having made all the right moves, you were forced to settle with a less than desirable position. Corporate America won handily in round one.

Left in the wake of the 2008 market collapse and impending recession, many of us graduated our undergrad programs on top of the world–only to find that there was no demand for our services. The skills we spent so carefully cultivating went to waste during the endless job hunt or were left for dead while we accepted low-level positions.

Enter the University of Oregon’s MBA program, where my “O” stands for opportunity.

This is our fresh start; a rebirth of sorts. Gone are the days of counting down the minutes until the workday is over. Goodbye to simply showing up to work in order to collect a paycheck. Enter the new–and eventually improved–me.

We’ve got two years to take advantage of everything that the city of Eugene (and the Pacific Northwest), the University of Oregon and specifically the MBA program have to offer. Having tasted what it’s like to be less than enthused at work while still believing in ourselves, we’ve earned this unbelievable opportunity.

Our paths are not clear; we’re nowhere close to being handed a cookie cutter blueprint of how to succeed. What we do have, however, is a university that is ready and willing to help us take advantage of every opportunity available and use it to transform us into the best candidates possible.

And so, we’ll enter back into the ring for round two. Hopefully stronger candidates, more refined, and with a new sense of direction and skill set.

Watch out world, my “O” stands for Opportunity, and I don’t plan on wasting it.

Written by Collin Hoyer

Collin is a second year student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center (Class of 2015). He is looking to use his experiences working abroad in the NIKE business for the Ching Luh Group, Stanford University, DBI Beverage, and The Ronnie Lott IMPACT Foundation to begin a marketing career specializing in sports products. Collin did his undergraduate work at Chapman University and originates from Pleasanton, CA.

Sean Oliver ’09 Reflects on the Nyenrode Study Tour

An Interview with Sean Oliver ’09

Sean Oliver ’09, senior audit associate at Grant Thornton, was one of several young accounting professionals who joined students from our Master of Accounting program on their recent study tour in the Netherlands. He shares his experiences in the interview below.

What was the most important takeaway for you?
I took away many important experiences from this trip, with the most significant being a greater understanding of IFRS vs. U.S. GAAP. This knowledge helped me to develop a big picture understanding of my industry and auditing by shifting to an alternative way of viewing accounting issues with more of a substance over form focus. It was a great opportunity to see things in a new light and gain information which will benefit me in my field.

Was there one thing you learned that you just couldn’t wait to tell your colleagues?
I was surprised by the emphasis that Europe’s investor market places on sustainability reporting which focuses on a company’s impact on the environment and the economy as well as the company’s corporate social responsibility. Prior to this trip I hadn’t gained much exposure to sustainability reporting as it is not as prominent in the industries I serve in the States. I was fascinated by the difference in the values placed on reporting by users of financial information and looked forward to discussing it with my colleagues.

You met some major players in the European accounting and financial world. Can you talk a little about that?
I was impressed with the program coordinators’ efforts to put together a schedule with such high-profile individuals as well as the generosity of these professionals to spend the time with us. I think it was beneficial to gain exposure to not only European public accounting firms, but also standards offices and industry professionals alike. We all benefited from learning from their knowledge and experience. It’s not often you get to casually network with such high-level executives, and I was happy to see the students have that opportunity.

What was it like to meet these high-powered people?
I found that although they were highly accomplished professionals, they were more than willing to take the time to share their knowledge with the students and showed a lot of interest in ensuring we had a positive experience during the duration of our program. It was refreshing to see that individuals who hold such high-profile positions can also be down to earth. One of the statements that stood out to me was from the CFO of Aegon, an international insurance company. When discussing his career path, he emphasized the importance of finding a mentor early on in your career and the importance of social and communication skills; I was impressed by his modesty, and found it sound advice for the students.

What kind of value do you think the MAcc students got from the trip?
I think the MAcc students, as well as myself benefited from all aspects of the trip. Daily activities included classroom lecture, foreign language and cultural exposure, professional and technical accounting discussions, and fun social experiences. I thought the program did a great job to challenge the students by requiring them to present speeches on case studies, conduct debates, and interact with high-level professionals. The trip also offered students the opportunity to become familiar with European business culture and just have a good time, relax and enjoy themselves.

What kind of value would you have gotten from a trip similar to this one, if it had been offered while you were an undergraduate at the Lundquist College of Business?
I would have loved the opportunity to gain an international perspective. I think experiences abroad greatly enhance your personal development and it’s for that reason I decided to study abroad during college although it was difficult to schedule a term to do so given the rigorous curriculum of the accounting major. I am happy that the MAcc students are now able to have the opportunity to have such an experience as an integral part of the program as this will allow them to gain confidence in their ability to succeed in the global business world while increasing their knowledge about the accounting profession.

What do you think of the current group of MAcc students?
I was extremely impressed by the high caliber of the MAcc students who attended the program. They were professional, intelligent, and outgoing which made the program that much more enjoyable for me. I was constantly impressed with their ability to do complete difficult assignments, ask thoughtful questions and interact with accomplished professionals with ease.

Was this your first time in Europe?
It was my second time traveling to Europe as I studied abroad in the Netherlands during my time at the U of O. It was great to be back in Europe and see aspects of the Netherlands that I didn’t have exposure to during my first trip abroad. I think going to Europe is always an amazing opportunity to gain a different perspective and learn about history and other cultures. I was grateful to have that opportunity again.

What did you find was most different about being in The Netherlands?
The most difficult aspect of being in The Netherlands was the language barrier as the Dutch language can be difficult to learn. Other than that the landscape has a lot of history, so you’ll see cobblestone roads, unique shops, and narrow homes which line the streets side-by-side and not very many tall buildings like you’d see in major cities in the States.

What was the most unusual food you ate?
The Dutch only have a few notable items which are unique to their cuisine but one thing that repeatedly came up were croquettes, which are breaded and deep-fried ground meat, mashed potatoes, cheese, and vegetables. My favorite part about food in the Netherlands though is the dairy products – no one does dairy better than the Dutch. I brought home cheese from a gift shop for all of my family.

What was the most memorable fun or cultural event for you?
It may have been partly because it was nostalgic for me given I’d been there before, but I greatly enjoyed the walking dinner tour of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a very lively city. With its historical buildings and lights which reflect off of the water in the canals which line most every street, it is especially beautiful at night. Our guides gave us a highly informative tour about the history of the city, and treated us to some very nice places which had a lot of character. Everyone had a great time, and as it is a uniquely vibrant city with visitors from all over the globe it was a memorable cultural experience.

Written by grimstad@uoregon.edu

Senior Honors Business Student

HP Case Competition a Student Success

On Friday March 8, students in Professor Larry Dann’s Corporate Finance and Valuation class competed against one another in the 16th annual HP Case Competition. As part of their coursework, students were required to read and analyze a case study prepared by management staff from HP (both of whom are OMBA alums), and present the results of their analysis, along with recommendations for future action. While the methodology, conclusions, and recommendations varied widely from group to group, there was a common theme amongst them all. Sue Richmond, a Finance Operations Manager at HP, and one of the three judges of the competition noted that “Every single team came in with a great story, not just the numbers. There was a very clear and consistent effort across groups to explain their logic and provide clear messaging to articulate their decision-making process.” Tim Cadman, a Finance Director at HP also noted that the judges “were also impressed with students’ ability to think creatively, and move beyond the quantitative to take the effects of qualitative factors into account”.
The ultimate prize for winning the competition (a new HP all-in-one printer for each team member!) went to Molly Gall (MAcc), Mikaela Hicks (CSBP), Kyle Spradling (FSAC), and Alexandra Velasco (CSBP), who proposed a strategy that systematically eliminated financially undesirable outcomes, while also jibing with perceived norms of corporate culture.

HP Case Competition winners Molly Gall and Kyle Spradling still trying to explain themselves to HP Finance Director and OMBA alum Tim Cadman

After the competition, Professor Dann expressed gratitude to the students for taking the extra time to prepare presentations, and for bringing “genuine creativity and thoughtfulness to the analysis”. He went on to say that he and the judges “thoroughly enjoyed discussing your projects, and had a lot of fun asking questions to test [student] assumptions”. Professor Dann also highlighted the importance of this activity for providing a true experiential learning opportunity which, although academic in nature, is highly representative of the professional situation that financial analysts often encounter.
The competition was a great experience for faculty, judges, and students, and we look forward to repeating the process again next year.
Special thanks to Sue and Tim for taking the time to join us and judge the presentations!

Written by Andrew White

Andrew is an MBA Candidate in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. A native of Massachusetts, he came to UO to refine his business skills and build his expertise in the sustainability arena. His primary interest is in helping organizations implement environmentally and socially sustainable strategies for long-term success, and he is a regular participant on many of the MBA intramural sports teams.

EndorsEase on the Competition Circuit in Cincinnati

The following post is synopsis of a brief interview with EndorsEase cofounders David Fishel (WSMC 2013) and Lauren Berkema (MAcc) following their trip to Cincinnati for the Spirit of Enterprise Competition. Teammate (and cofounder) Tony Cresta (WSMC 2013) was not available at the time.
Last week, two OMBA’s and a MAcc student had the opportunity to travel to the University of Cincinnati to compete in the UC Center for Entrepreneurship Spirit of Enterprise Graduate Business Plan Competition. David Fishel, Tony Cresta, and Lauren Berkema had a tough journey to and from Ohio thanks to some winter weather, but ultimately the team arrived on Thursday night eager to present their business, EndorsEase, to the judges at hand.
According to the Facebook page, “EndorsEase is the Match.com for underrepresented athletes and businesses to create endorsement opportunities.” In a nutshell, the team wants to help professional athletes and businesses create meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships that may otherwise go unnoticed. What the team learned during their time in Cincinnati was that quantifiable data can be difficult to come by, but are essential to proving yourself to investors. While judges loved the team’s presentation and concept, they wanted more clear evidence to measure business applicability and revenue generation. This unfortunate hangup led EndorsEase to finish 2nd in their group (to the eventual champion of the competition) and miss out on the finals.
Despite the disappointment of missing finals, and the 22 hour trip back to Eugene, the team left the weekend on a positive note. It was a great bonding experience outside of the typical routine of classes and team meetings, and the team is optimistic about their chances at the Stuart Clark Venture Challenge in Winnipeg next month. Lauren Berkema noted that “…we all learned a lot about what it takes to be in the competition space, and what other teams are bringing to the table… We were able to get feedback that let us know what we need to work on with our business model, and how we can better present information in the future. Besides it taking 22 hours to get back to Eugene from Cincinnati it was fun learning more about our business and each other!”

Written by Andrew White

Andrew is an MBA Candidate in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. A native of Massachusetts, he came to UO to refine his business skills and build his expertise in the sustainability arena. His primary interest is in helping organizations implement environmentally and socially sustainable strategies for long-term success, and he is a regular participant on many of the MBA intramural sports teams.

Thursday’s Theme: Sustainability Reporting

On Thursday the theme was Sustainability Reporting. In the morning we were broken up into six groups and given three questions. Each question had an agree and disagree group, and the goal was to research the topic and then debate our assigned side. The three questions were:

  1. Sustainability reporting is really necessary these days,
  2. Companies always use sustainability reporting for window dressing purposes, and
  3. Integrated reporting is a necessary step to enable firms to make the next step on the field of sustainability.

Before we prepared for our debate we took a tour of the on-campus castle. We learned all about the history of the castle and how it remained prominent while other castles in the area were essentially stripped and sold for parts. We got to see the kitchen, banquet room, and ladies room. The castle is still used today by administration and for events. After the tour we went back to our meeting room to firm up our debate presentations before lunch. We had lunch on campus before receiving a lecture by Marieke Boekhold-Miltenburg from KPMG Sustainability. The Sustainability department from KPMG in the Netherlands has twenty-five employees and offers both audit and assurance services. Its main goal is to help clients create a vision and strategy on sustainability because there is pressure to be more aware of and learn more about sustainability.

We learned that other countries, especially in Europe, are making much more of a significant effort to not only create but integrate sustainability into financial reporting. The Dean of Degree Programs & Research at Nyenrode, Leen Paape, told us it is our generation’s responsibility to ensure integrated reporting is an important aspect to a business’s operations. When Marieke finished her discussion, with much enthusiasm from and many questions by the MAcc students, we started our debates. Going into the debates everyone thought there was a clear winner to each topic, but I think each group brought up great perspectives and made everyone realize the arguments of both sides are valid.

We had a socializing session at the campus bar after the debates for an hour before we had a vegetarian (sticking to the sustainability theme) meal at a Michelin Star restaurant, Restaurant Slangevegt. The reviews from the students were mixed, but in think everyone got an opportunity to do something they may not have done before (not only was it a vegetarian meal, but a very nice one). The courses were heavy on cheese, and we even got a shot of potato soup! Overall it was an interesting experience. Thursday night left us with one day remaining as a group.

–Lauren Berkema ’12, MAcc ’13

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Wednesday: Focus on Investor Relations

Wednesday officially marked the halfway point of our trip. The theme for Wednesday was investor relations, so after we had breakfast we met in the lecture hall to discuss a case about Royal Ahold (the grocery corporation that is the Enron of the Netherlands). We got into groups and each group got a issue from the case. Our mission was to compare this case issue to the United States, for example corporate governance in the Netherlands v the United States. We had an hour to do research and prep mini presentations of our findings. After each group presented, we got on a bus to Aegon, an international insurance company, to discuss investor relations.

We arrived at Aegon around lunchtime, and to our delight they had a full buffet lunch waiting got us: mini sandwiches, chicken skewers, salads, croquettes and fruit. We also received gift bags containing hats, Rubik’s Cubes, notepads and pens. After a long lunch where we got to mingle with the professionals from the company (including the future CFO), we headed to our meeting area. In the lobby outside of room where we were going to discuss investor relations we found coffee, tea, cookies and candies waiting for us (I think we could all get used to this!). When we finally got settled in the room, we heard from Thomas, a former sell-side analyst that is one part of the investor relations team at Aegon. He explained to us the importance of investor relations, and the biggest takeaway is that managers need to focus on the strategy of the business over share price.

After the lecture we were split into groups again and were given questions about the same case. The prep in the morning paid off and each group was able to give a presentation about their topic in front of our own group, in addition to Aegon professionals. At the end of the presentations the professionals deliberated and chose the team who did a presentation on Royal Ahold investor relations as the winners of the first place prize: the Aegon annual report in chocolate. After the presentations we heard from the current CFO of Aegon: Jan Nooitgedagt. He talked to us about cross-listing from Aegon’s perspective and then allowed us to ask him some tough questions. He stayed around afterwards with the other professionals for some mingling with snacks, beer and wine. We had that night off from structured activity, so after dinner at the Nyenrode campus, some students headed off for some much needed rest while some went to check out other entertainment options.

–Lauren Berkema, ’12, MAcc ’13

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Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.