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BAP Annual Meeting 2019 - Chicago, Illinois

By Ellen Hawkins & Christian Morina

The 2019 Annual Meeting and 100th year anniversary celebration of Beta Alpha Psi took place in Chicago, Illinois this August.  We, Ellen Hawkins and Christian Morina, were fortunate to be sponsored by the Monash Business School and the Accounting Department to attend the 3-day event on behalf of our Chapter, Xi Epsilon. The annual meeting brought together 300 university chapters from across the globe to connect, learn and celebrate all of our achievements. Beta Alpha Psi President, Alexandra Miller, kicked off the event launching this year’s theme, Inspiring Future Leaders to Leave a Legacy of Excellence, signifying the recognition of our actions today and how they will impact the future of tomorrow.

Following the opening session, and while Christian was at Project Run With It, I, alongside 900 delegates, participated in the community service day activity sponsored by KPMG LLP and the KPMG Foundation. We volunteered for Pack Shack and assembled 100,000 meals for students who don’t have access to regular meals across the Chicago region.  I was staggered and shocked at the number of children and college students in the Chicago area, but also across the USA, who go without regular meals and are subject to food insecurity. This year at Monash University our chapter has partnered with Wholefoods to help with this issue in our own backyard.

The event was complemented by several engaging keynote speakers. Ken Buoyer, the EY Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting spoke about the importance of accepting differences in the workplace and how diversity is a strength in businesses that manage it well. My favourite keynote was from Motivational speaker John O’Leary. At the age of 9, a fire exploded and he experienced burns to 100% of his body. He was given a 1% chance to live and through extraordinary odds survived. He lost all his fingers and had to relearn how to talk, walk and feed himself. John’s story was guided by hope, love and perspective, it was truly inspiring. At the conclusion of his speech he played the scientist by Coldplay, a penny dropped in the room. 


The opportunity to compete in Project Run With It (PRWI) case competition was an exciting opportunity to put into practice all the technical and people skills that come with undertaking an Accounting degree at Monash. My team, made up of three US based BAP students was tasked with the challenge of providing assistance to the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting (EFWA). The foundation has established a niche in assisting women at risk including single mothers and primary care givers in completing their Accounting studies.

Like many non-for-profits, EFWA were seeking solutions on how they could improve the level of impact they had within their target demographic as well develop greater brand awareness to attract greater levels of engagement with potential scholarship recipients and sponsors. With only 20 hours to develop a proposal, our team set to work quickly and found that our ideas and skills complemented each others amazingly well. Whilst submitting our written proposal before the 4PM deadline was a relief, the more exhilarating task was still ahead. The opportunity to deliver a twelve minute presentation to the board of directors on our proposal was a worthy conclusion to all of efforts. Whilst not selected as the winning submission, I walk away from the experience with a significant sense of pride knowing that we have made a meaningful impact on the direction of the foundation.

With PRWI complete, I then had the opportunity to attend some thought provoking presentations. One of those was from John Howell who is a Managing Director within the Financial Management Practice at Grant Thornton. In his presentation, John recounts his story as a passenger on flight US1549, now known as the Miracle on the Hudson and the subsequent epiphany he had following those events. At times entertaining and at others tragic, Johns story left all attendees with one simple message; that is to be all in, all the time.


The 2019 Annual Meeting will remain a standout of our involvement within Beta Alpha Psi leadership program. The ability to learn as well as further our networks within Oceania as well as across America will provide us both with unquantifiable benefits throughout our careers. We wish to extend our gratitude to Carla Wilkin and the wider Accounting Department for their continued support of the program. We would also like to extend our thanks to co- faculty advisors Daniela Juric who supported us in our endeavours in the US and John Webster who is a steadfast supporter of all our efforts.  We would also like to acknowledge Connie Thalmeier who worked tirelessly in organising the logistics of the journey. 

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