In an effort to give accounting students in the SBE more hands on and real world experience, Dr. Larry Davis has established an ongoing working relationship with Kimberly-Clark.
SBE: Tell us about the project in detail.
LD: Students interact with the Kimberly-Clark Tax Center of Excellence to gain an understanding of the business processes within the Center of Excellence. This is done via office visits and conference calls. Students then prepare graphic and narrative descriptions of those processes with the objective of facilitating improvements in those processes. Part of the process involves Kimberly-Clark personnel coaching students both on the actual work being performed and on general appropriate professional behavior.
What the students get out of this is exposure to a real business process and to professionals, a realization that the accounting that they study in school is the accounting that real professionals perform daily – albeit at much higher level. They gain an understanding of what is expected of tax professionals both from the perspective of the quality of work performed and interactions with other professionals.
SBE: Are we working directly with any SBE alumni at Kimberly-Clark?
LD: Dave Bernard, the VP of Tax, was the major facilitator for starting this. We also work with Rich Beauvais. Both are MTU accounting alums.
SBE: Who came up with the idea to start the project? Has this been done in the past? Do other universities work on a similar project or is this experience unique for MTU students?
LD: I did. I have been looking to start an accounting consulting group ever since I came here. We have in the past done work for some of the engineering enterprises and local businesses to ‘get our feet wet.’
I would not say it is ONLY done here – but it is not done at very many places. I would say that it is fair to say that it is a distinguishing characteristic of our program.
SBE: Are only accounting students involved? How many total students are on this project? How did they get selected for the project?
LD: There are always accounting students involved, but we bring in folks from other disciplines as needed to form cross-disciplinary teams. So far the Kimberly-Clark project has always involved both accounting students and information systems students given the nature of the work. It is not clear if IS students will continue on this particular engagement or not.
We have had about 40-50 students work on the project. Students are selected via application to the faculty supervisor.
SBE: When will the project be completed? What is the biggest advantage for students who are on this project?
LD: From one perspective…hopefully never. I would like to see this as a permanently ongoing relation as projects arise. On the other hand, our initial work documenting their Tax area systems should be done within a year, if not sooner.