I am thrilled to announce this year’s Excel University scholarship winners! These scholarships are supported by the Excel University Alumni Association, so thanks to all of you who have helped make these awards possible! A special thank you this year to Gary Zeune of The Pros and The Cons who has generously donated time helping spread the word about the scholarship and has stepped in and doubled the amount of the cash award. Thank you Gary!
Both of our winners this year are terrific examples of the type of accounting student that the scholarship program was designed to assist. They are wonderful representations of the future of our profession. They are smart, hard-working, and highly recommended by their professors. They both have incredible accounting careers ahead of them.
Congratulations to the 2018 Excel University Scholarship winners, Abby Schatzman and Lindsey Alexander!
As part of the scholarship application, I asked for a short essay “Interesting Ways I’ve Used Excel.” I’d like to share both essays with you, and give you more information about each scholarship recipient.
Abby is double majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems at the University of Dayton.
Her professor says that she is a superb student, able to quickly master new and complex topics. Abby has held leadership roles in numerous organizations which help her use, learn, and apply technology in business-related applications.
She has even helped develop the Excel curriculum for training new students … way to go Abby 🙂
Interesting Ways I’ve Used Excel, by Abby Schatzman
When I was in elementary school, we were exposed to this cool software that made graphs. I remember making a graph about how many people in my class liked apples vs. oranges vs. bananas. The coolest part was we could make the bars on the graphs into colors like hot pink and lime green or even tie-dye. I think I even made the title in Comic Sans. This was my first experience with Microsoft Excel. My fourth grade mind thought that this was the extent of what Excel could do; I could use it my whole life to make tie-dye charts about fruit preference. Fast forward fifteen years or so, and I am still using that cool software and using it to its fullest potential, minus the tacky color and font choices.
I have been able to use Excel in many of my high school and college activities. Throughout high school, I was always helping my classmates use it for their labs, but I didn’t use many functions more complicated than a SUMIF. During the summer after Senior year of high school, I worked as an intern at Xavier University in their deployment group. My favorite part of the internship was working with Excel; I was able to use Excel to implement a mail merge system that automatically sent emails out to end-users with the date and time of their upgrade. This was previously a completely manual process, so I was extremely happy with the results when I was able to email all 200 end-users with one click. That was when I realized how powerful the tool was, and I wanted to continue to learn more.
During my college career at the University of Dayton thus far, I have been involved in two organizations on campus that have really shaped me: Flyer Enterprises (FE) and Flyer Consulting (FC). I have been able to use Excel to help both organizations as well. Flyer Enterprises is a $1.2 million student-run business. I have been an employee in the IT group since I arrived on campus in the Fall of 2015. During my sophomore year, I was able to assist the Chief Financial Officer with an Excel mini-course offered to all FE employees. I created three of the six lesson plans, which were focused on Macros, Conditional Formatting, and PivotTables. We ended up teaching around 15 employees for an entire six-week period.
Flyer Consulting is a student organization on UD’s campus that offers pro-bono consulting services to non-profit organizations in the Dayton area and beyond. I have been on three client projects in my time with the organization, and two of those involved implementing an Excel model. In my work with one client, we were
able to create a macro that converted QuickBooks financial exports and other manually entered data into some key metrics and ratios and the charts that went into the organization’s annual report. This project was especially challenging, as I had never done a project of this magnitude with Excel before, but it grew my skills tremendously. I had never edited nor written VBA code for a macro before, but I ended up editing over 300 lines of code for that project in particular. This came in handy for my second Excel model for FC’s clients. This past Spring, I used Excel for another client deliverable; I used the organization’s cash disbursements, cash receipts, and chart of accounts exports from Sage to generate a cash budget. I ended up writing this macro almost entirely from scratch so that it was perfect for the client. Both of these projects were extremely helpful for the nonprofits, as they took days of work off the employees’ hands.
Overall, I have been able to see that Excel can really be a powerful tool for any organization. I am so glad I have had these experiences so that I can use the program to its full extent when I enter the workforce. In an increasingly data-driven business environment, it is important to have the skills necessary to look at those data, and I think lessons from Excel University could take my skills to the next level. If given the opportunity to learn skills from Excel University, I would love to learn more about how to integrate outside tools and do more advanced programming to make it as powerful as possible.
Lindsey attends Christian Brothers University, and is pursuing her Masters of Accountancy degree. While pursuing her degree, she is also working full-time as a financial analyst, and has held leadership positions in a variety of organizations.
Her professor said that Lindsey is one of her top students. Lindsey volunteers in the community and on campus, and always gives of her time and talents … often reaching out to new students to help. That is awesome Lindsey 🙂
Interesting Ways I’ve Used Microsoft Excel, by Lindsey Alexander
As a Masters student and as a Staff Financial Analyst at AutoZone, I have found that one of my best and most useful tools in the workplace and at home has been Excel. I use it in many different functions at work, whether it is in the form of booking journal entries, creating period reconciliations, working on our yearly and quarterly budgets, putting together period review materials, and so much more. However, the file that is most useful for me when it comes to Excel is when I do my weekly forecasting. As an analyst, it is my job to comprise a forecast twice a week – once on Monday and once on Friday. This forecast is important not only to my controllers, but to the executives as well, as it shows the how the Commercial segment of AutoZone is predicted to perform, and where they have hit the mark or missed their goals on a week-to-week, period-to-period, and quarter-to-quarter basis. With the help of Excel, I am able to display to them where we fall in all these different areas, and where we land not only in comparison to this year, but in contrast to last year as well. Excel helps me to trend out different expenses the company has, potential sales growth, evaluate gross margin, and so much more.
In addition, all of this data is linked to a “cause of change” tab that I have been able to help perfect since the time in my role. This gives those looking at my forecast a “snapshot” of what the week is looking like compared to last week, and what areas may potentially need some extra attention. When it comes to Excel, I don’t know how I would be able to function without its helpful use of VLOOKUPS, Pivot Tables, the ability to link tabs to other tabs in order to easily display information (such as is the case on my cause of change tab), and the list goes on and on! I feel as if I learn something new about Excel every day – the more and more that I dive in and really take ahold of the forecasting process at AutoZone. I am always looking for new ways to make old processes more efficient and more accurate, and with the help of Excel, I have been able to do just that!
As a student, I have found that using Excel for much of my homework has also been helpful. Although I am traditional, in the sense that I like to write out a lot of my homework problems, I also like to put them in Excel once I have worked them through, to help me better understand the process in a different setting. I always think to myself, “How can I apply this in the “real world?” – or in my case – at Autozone. It also helps me to keep track of my progress and help me to memorize and understand formulas.
At home, I have overhauled my budgeting process. I used to balance my checkbook on a ledger – but I have now completely revamped it with graphs and charts of income, expenses, and savings that feed in through a “data” tab. This has been extraordinarily helpful for myself and my husband to visually see what we spend each month, how much we save, and how much we are bringing in after taxes. Because we are on an even tighter budget now (as my husband is in Physical Therapy school), it truly has been a lifesaver – and has helped us stay on track each month.
In short, whether it is at home, at work, or at school, there are many fun and helpful ways I have been able to incorporate Excel into my life. It is a tool I could not imagine living without!
Once again, congratulations Abby and Lindsey!!
If you know an accounting student that would like to apply for next year’s scholarship, send them over to excel-university.com/scholarship to apply.
Again … a big THANK YOU to the Excel University Alumni Association members because your enrollments support this scholarship program and these bright accounting students! And, thanks again to Gary at The Pros and The Cons for doubling the financial award and for helping spread the word about the scholarship this year.