Griffith Business School students Pardeep Kumar and Aarunan Thambiayah have come within a whisker of taking out the top prize at the Chartered Accountants Student Challenge.

After the Griffith University team won the Queensland finals, the commerce students represented the state at last week’s national finals of the prestigious competition, run by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia.

They were pipped at the post by the ACT team but were delighted by their progress through the competition which started in May and ended in a Sydney Harbour restaurant in the company of other finalists from Western Australia and Victoria.

“This was a great way for us to connect with industry. We’ve learned so much about turning theory into practice. It’s been wonderful,” Pardeep said.

Competing teams were challenged with finding a solution to an ethical business question posed by St James Ethics Centre, an independent not-for-profit organisation providing a non-judgemental forum for the promotion, exploration and application of ethics.

The project focused on the development of a cost-benefit analysis for the construction of a highway which factored in a value for a human life.

After seeing off four other Queensland teams in September, the Griffith University team travelled to NSW on Tuesday for the Australian finals where they presented their solution before a panel of judges from the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia, St James Ethics Centre and Macquarie Bank Group.

The three-day experience also involved presentation training, network luncheons, a suit fitting and an exclusive meeting for the Griffith students with the CEO of Macquarie Group Bank at their Sydney offices.

The Griffith team’s analysis placed a $1.85 million value on a human life in the context of the highway construction project.

“For the purposes of the project we had to convert a human to money terms. Our value was quite close to that of the winning team. We were very happy about that, we know we were on the right track,” Pardeep said.

Second-year commerce student Pardeep is eager to enter the competition again and go one step further next year. His teammate Aarunan will not be available to join him in 2013 as he graduates with a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in accounting) later this year.

“It’s an awesome competition and I’m keen to find a new partner and try again next year,” Pardeep said.