April 15, 2018, Cairo – Salma Fouad Abutaleb and Marina Philip, two students at The American University in Cairo (AUC), won first and second place, respectively, at the EY [Ernst & Young] Tax Competition held at the University. Abutaleb and Philip competed against 32 top accounting students from across Egypt.
“I was so happy to win in my first competition ever and am thankful for God’s help,” said Philip. “I felt so proud of my University because we have a real added value, which helped me win the competition. We learn a lot of material that is useful for our careers.”
All 10 winners of the competition now have the opportunity to participate in a summer internship with EY after submitting an application, interviewing and taking some exams. This experience has the potential to lead to a full-time position after graduation.
“This competition changed my whole view of tax people,” said Abutaleb. “They are more energetic and humorous than I thought. Taxes, for me, were just papers to fill in with no need for critical thinking, but I found out that there is a need for critical thinking to stand out in the tax field. You need to understand how to perfectly plan ahead for companies and use the law to benefit tax payers in legal ways.”
The competition challenged participating students to show off their skills and learn more about tax services as well as other financial practices. After hearing from several professions from EY, one of the largest professional services company, each university team was prompted to present on assigned topics, including corporate tax, withholding tax, salary tax and value added tax.
Although this competition drew out students’ practical skills, their academic knowledge was also put to use. “During our presentation, many of us used materials that we had been given in our taxation course at AUC,” noted Philip. “I explained how VAT is actually a burden on a customer. This was actually an example that Khaled Dahawy [professor in the Department of Accounting] gave us in class, so I was able to explain it properly.”
Putting their theoretical knowledge into practice, students saw the more exciting and active side of being a tax professional. They had the chance to learn that the topic of taxes is neither an isolated nor an insular one. “Taxation is not only related to the tax department, but is actually interrelated with other departments in a firm,” said Abutaleb.