CFO and VP of Operations, Medicare Part D
CFO and VP of Operations, Medicare Part D
CFO and VP of Operations, Medicare Part D, UnitedHealth Group
Previous role: Vice President of Finance, UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual
Academic background: Economics, University of Wisconsin
Before he started his pursuit of a Master of Accounting (MAC) degree, Blake Berquist was already a successful business leader, serving as a regional Vice President and CFO for UnitedHealthcare. To grow professionally, and to obtain his CPA designation, he felt it was important to add formal finance and accounting knowledge and skills to his background in economics.
Seeking an online program that would allow him to continue working and one that was open to non-accounting majors, Blake joined the UNC MAC program. “I loved how UNC structured their program and made it easy for non-accounting majors to understand,” said Blake. “I left the program feeling like I was an expert in accounting after joining just 15 months earlier as a relative novice.”
The new accounting knowledge helped Blake increase his confidence and round out his skillset, which, in turn, helped him elevate into a leadership role. “As I looked above me, most of the finance leaders were former CPAs,” said Blake. “To get the next level, I knew I’d benefit from more formal education in accounting and finance.”
Ernst & Young
Audit Associate, Ernst & Young
Previous role: Student-Athlete; Legal Intern, Pure Storage
Academic background: Economics, UNC-Chapel Hill
While Annie Kingman pursued her undergrad degree in economics at Carolina (and served as captain of the soccer team), she accumulated critical work experience as a legal intern. She considered law school before finding her way to accounting. “I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in business and thought that accounting would open more options for me,” said Annie. “The MAC program gave me the knowledge and technical skills that I needed to move my career forward.”
With aspirations of playing professional soccer in Europe, Annie joined the flexible online format of the UNC Master of Accounting Program. Through connections she made in the program, she landed a job as an Audit Associate at Ernst & Young’s office in Hamburg, Germany.
Annie appreciates being able to directly apply what she learns in class to what she does on the job. “The concepts I’m learning in the program are the same that I use at work,” said Annie. “I apply the skills I learn in class at night to understand the strategy and figure out why a business is making certain accounting decisions and why it operates the way it does.”
Director, Corporate/Integrated Communications
American Institute of CPAs
Director of Corporate and Integrated Communications, American Institute of CPAs
Previous role: Senior Communications Manager, AICPA
Academic background: Journalism/Government, University of Texas; International Relations, University of Oklahoma
Lindsay Patterson isn’t an accountant; she’s a marketing expert with a deep background in communications and public relations. Lindsay, however, supports the field in an important way, serving as an advocate for accountants through her role at AICPA, the profession’s largest member organization.
Seeking to better understand and “speak the language” of the organization’s membership, Lindsay decided to pursue a Master of Accounting degree online at UNC, which allowed her to balance her studies and a travel-heavy role. In the program, Lindsay chose the audit concentration, which gave her a significant depth of knowledge in auditing and accounting standards.
Lindsay credits her new knowledge for helping to advance her career. “I was offered a promotion to become the director of the communications team,” recalls Lindsay. “I have a deep understanding of communications and PR and also auditing and accounting standards, so I know how to talk to our members in a way that most people in communications may not understand because they don’t have that in-depth background.”
High Point, N.C.
Finance Analyst, GlaxoSmithKline, High Point, N.C.
Previous role: Financial Management Officer, United States Marine Corps
Academic background: Economics/Hispanic Studies/History, UNC-Chapel Hill
As an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Johnathan Lara was already honing his skills in finance, processing payments and advising senior management on financial policy. Looking ahead to a civilian career, however, he saw limits to his growth. “It helped to have strong leadership experience from the Marine Corps and I had teams spread across multiple continents, but I needed more knowledge,” said Johnathan. “That’s what really drew me to the degree — the career possibilities and the ability to open more doors.”
Recognizing its outstanding reputation, his desire to continue working, and his need to support his family, Johnathan entered the online format of the UNC Master of Accounting Program where he is currently pursuing both the Audit and Financial Analysis and Reporting concentrations.
Just a year in, Johnathan has already secured two jobs: his current role, a short-term contract with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, and a future role as an audit associate in BDO’s Raleigh office, which he’ll start after graduation. He credits the program for his job-search success. “The career services team and the structured recruiting process truly helps students get meaningful jobs to start their post-graduate careers,” he notes, “I was fortunate to have many interviews and receive several job offers.”
Risk Advisory Associate
Ernst & Young
New York, N.Y.
Risk Advisory Associate, Ernst & Young, New York, N.Y.
Previous role: Loan Processing Manager, F3EA Holdings
Academic background: Latin/Pre-Med, Harvard Extension School
It might seem like Latin, medicine, and accounting are miles apart, but Elizabeth Johnson has made the journey. While she was in college, she began working at a credit union. As she moved on to a fintech startup, and then into a role as a loan processing manager, Elizabeth realized that finance was her strong suit. “Working at the credit union, I realized I was actually interested in financial services,” said Elizabeth. “It came naturally to me and felt like the space I wanted to be in.”
With a desire to expand her finance career, Elizabeth turned to accounting, seeking more technical skills that would make her more marketable and prepare her for the CPA exam. As she considered her options, UNC’s online Master of Accounting program, with strong career outcomes and no prerequisite courses, really stood out and allowed her to continue working while she earned her degree.
While she was in the program, Elizabeth participated in the MAC program’s structured recruiting process and landed a job in Ernst & Young’s risk advisory group in New York City. “The recruiters were great”, noted Elizabeth. “They considered where I lived and the service line I wanted to work in. It really is my dream job and I’m so excited to have this opportunity.”
Adjunct Accounting Professor
Georgia Highlands College
Adjunct Accounting Professor, Georgia Highlands College
Previous role: Owner/Operator, Spirited Art
Academic background: Business/Accounting, University of Richmond
With an undergraduate degree in accounting and her CPA license, Andrea Bell began a successful career as an accountant working for Ernst & Young. Next, with several years of financial management experience under her belt, she partnered with an artist and a lawyer to create Spirited Art, a successful sip-and- paint business.
And then, it was time for Andrea to do something really different — she wanted to teach. She first headed back to class herself, enrolling in UNC’s online Master of Accounting Program. “To enter the world of academia, I knew that I needed a degree from a top-tier program,” she said, “and the online format was perfect for me.” While in the program, Andrea worked with the MAC Career Services team to update her resume to better market her potential as a professor.
The hard work paid off. After she graduated, Andrea became a professor, introducing new accountants to the field she loves. She credits her Master’s degree for helping her make this important career transition. “The UNC MAC program focuses not only on accounting skills, but how to research, make decisions and apply professional judgement,” said Andrea, “I am trying to bring this focus to my classroom.”
Associate, Internal Audit & Enterprise Risk
Associate, Internal Audit & Enterprise Risk, KPMG, Atlanta, Ga.
Previous role: Staff Accountant, Northwest Georgia Housing Authority
Academic background: Business, Shorter University
Before he pursued his master’s degree, Kyle Hubbard was already an accountant, reconciling balance sheets and preparing monthly financials for the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority. He enjoyed the work and his future was pretty clear. However, to advance in the profession, Kyle recognized that earning the CPA credential would help him immensely so he joined the UNC Master of Accounting program, studying online so that he could continue to work.
In the program, Kyle not only acquired critical technical knowledge, but also learned essential communication skills. Working on team projects with classmates located around world gave him the confidence to manage communications across cultural differences (and time zones!), a skill he now uses regularly in his role at KPMG. “I heard countless times that communication is the skill that employers seek most and that it is important in the workplace,” said Kyle. “I thought it had become cliché, but it has held true every day since. By communicating complex ideas effectively, you can become a trusted advisor for your clients and peers.”
Kyle credits the program’s career services team and the structured recruiting process for helping him secure his new position at KPMG. “On our first day in the program, we talked about personal branding and I carried that with me through the interview process,” remarked Kyle. “That really helped me define who I was and how I could stand out and, ultimately, helped me land interviews and a job offer.”
Advance Auto Parts, Inc.
Treasury Manager, Advance Auto Parts
Previous role: Internal Audit Manager, Xerium Technologies
Academic background: Business, Campbell University; MBA, NC State
Working as an internal auditor, with experience in public accounting, Sara Lindley was progressing well through her career, leveraging her MBA and landing solid, progressive roles. However, when she was asked to consult on business issues linked to accounting processes, she realized that deeper knowledge in accounting could serve her well. “In order to perform the due diligence and provide meaningful feedback and guidance, I really felt the need for more knowledge about certain accounting principles,” said Sara.
Sara joined the online format of UNC Master of Accounting program, earning her degree while she continued to work. To her already robust set of skills, she added technical knowledge of accounting standards and principles that would allow her to more effectively manage and review accounting processes.
With new skills and confidence, Sara joined the Treasury team at Advance Auto Parts as a Treasury Manager, a role where she implements changes that drive business strategy. “What I learned in the MAC program has given me the confidence to push out ideas into the business and be a part of the transformation that’s going on in my company,” she notes.
Director of Operations
Director of Operations, After-School All-Stars, Columbus, Ohio
Previous experience: Teacher, Teach For America
Academic background: Chemistry, Duke
Allison Elia makes a difference in her community. With a strong desire to help others, she worked for Teach for America before joining the programming team at After-School All-Stars in Columbus, Ohio. She loved the role, but it wasn’t playing to her true strengths. When she was offered the opportunity to shift into a more operational role, managing data, accounting, finances, and human resources, she jumped right in.
“At the end of the day, a nonprofit is still a business,” said Allison. “Going back to school would allow me to learn more about the business and have more informed conversations about how to best use our money.” Seeking to add hard skills and fundamentals, she chose accounting over an MBA. And, with a desire to immediately apply those skills, she chose UNC’s online Master of Accounting program.
The knowledge that Allison has gained has not only helped her grow professionally, but has also helped her organization make the most of grant money they’ve received. “We’re able to offer this program to more kids or offer more opportunities to the kids that we have now,” said Allison.
Chief Financial Officer
Nash Investments, LP
Chief Financial Officer, Nash Investments, LP
Academic background: Landscape Architecture, University of Georgia
Previous role: Design & Development Manager, Fazio Golf Course Designers
When he was younger, Brian Courcelle aspired to design golf courses. After majoring in landscape architecture, he join the renowned Fazio Design firm. Mission completed. Then, the recession hit. Brian, looking to insulate himself against the economic downturn, shifted into a business role, helping the firm with contract management, budget forecast, and client development.
Brian’s shift from design to business took another big step when he left Fazio to become CFO of Nash Investments, LP, a family investment office. “At some level I was able to just jump into the role”, he recalled, “but I knew that augmenting my knowledge with formal education in accounting would serve me well.” To this end, and to balance work and family life with his studies, Brian joined the online format of UNC’s Master of Accounting program.
Pursuing the program’s Financial Analysis and Reporting concentration, Brian developed an excellent foundation in key accounting skills, which has made him a more capable and confident CFO. “With the knowledge I’ve gained through the program, I’ve been able to take some of the load of our external accounting firm and make them more efficient,” said Brian.
Senior Tax Associate
Ernst & Young
Senior Tax Associate, Ernst & Young, Raleigh, N.C.
Previous role: Squad Leader, U.S. Army
Academic background: Accounting, Florida Southern
Having spent 16-hour days in serving in roles for the Army, Mikhail Wright wanted a new career for himself as well as a better life for his son. To help with his transition, he chose the to pursue a Master of Accounting degree. “I wanted a degree that’s a tool,” said Mikhail, “a degree that can help me build the life I see for myself and my son.”
Mikhail was interested in joining a public accounting firm, so he took advantage of the program’s active structured recruiting process. He made an impression with recruiters from several major firms and landed in an opportunity at Ernst & Young in Raleigh.
“It’s really a strange experience, especially if you’ve been in the job market before,” remembered Mikhail. “Instead of you doing the looking, you’re being hunted…and the firms really want you there. I received offers from all the firms I met with and had to decide which opportunity was the best fit for me and my son.”
Senior Associate, Attest Services
Senior Associate, Attest Services, Grant Thornton
Previous role: Senior Financial Analyst, U.S. Air Force
Academic background: Finance, Auburn University
Chelsea Walker was serving in a key role for the Department of Defense, supporting a U.S. Air Force missile training program. She led a small team that performed specialized financial analysis and budgeting work; however, when she decided to transition away from working for the military, Chelsea worried that her experience with governmental accounting might not transfer well to the public sector.
Earning a Master of Accounting (MAC) degree put her concerns to rest. “I knew if I had a MAC degree and a CPA license, my skills would be validated,” said Chelsea. “I’d be a more attractive candidate.” With a desire to remain mobile, Chelsea entered UNC’s online MAC program where she added both in-depth accounting knowledge and important leadership skills.
After she graduated, Chelsea made the big switch she was after, joining Grant Thornton’s Risk Advisory team as a Senior Associate in the firm’s Philadelphia office. She credits the UNC MAC program for helping her land in her new role. “The UNC MAC program has a reputation of producing smart, quality employees,” remarked Chelsea. “I can’t remember having a single interview where ‘UNC’ and ‘CPA’ weren’t brought up.”
Senior Consultant, Risk Advisory
Dixon Hughes Goodman
Senior Consultant, Dixon Hughes Goodman
Previous role: Investment Advisor, JP Morgan
Academic background: Finance, UNC-Wilmington
Working as an investment advisor for JP Morgan in New York City, Stephen Beeker was putting his undergraduate degree in finance to good use. But it wasn’t enough; Stephen wanted to go deeper. “I wanted to hone my technical skills,” remarked Stephen. “Getting a MAC degree opened up the door to not only public accounting, but also financial services, corporate banking, and risk management.”
The UNC Master of Accounting Program gave him the technical skills he needed to master auditing, data analytics, and more. It also gave him outstanding opportunities to build his network and connect with public accounting firms. Stephen said, “In the online MAC program, I met so many people with so many different experiences, from entry level all the way to executive level.”
Working with the Career Services team, one of those connections helped Stephen land in a risk advisory position at DHG, a role that allow him to leverage both his industry experience and his newly acquired skills. Now, recently promoted to a role as a Senior Consultant, he helps some of the nation’s largest financial institutions audit the controls and transformations of their critical data and, in turn, limit reputational risk.
Supervisor, Management Consulting
Supervisor, Management Consulting, RSM US
Previous role: Senior Account Manager, Otis Elevator and Internal Auditor, U.S. Army Reserve
Academic background: Chemistry, U.S. Military Academy at West Point; MBA, University of Alabama
To help with his transition from the Army, where he served as a field artillery officer, to civilian life, Bryan Sanders pursued, and completed, an MBA. He was particularly fascinated with the introduction to accounting he received, so he decided to pursue a second graduate degree — a Master of Accounting (MAC) — to open himself up to consulting opportunities. Bryan chose UNC’s top-ranked online MAC program, which allowed him the flexibility to take both business and accounting courses.
While Bryan was in the program, he networked with recruiters from many public accounting firms, which helped him land a job as a management consultant within RSM’s technology and digital group. “It was extremely easy to network and get my foot in the door,” said Bryan. “UNC has a real strength with its campus recruiting, brand reputation, and alumni network.”
In the MAC program, Bryan added deep skills and knowledge in accounting, finance, auditing, data analytics, and financial reporting, which he’s applied directly in his role as a consultant. “The knowledge I gained through the program has provided me a solid foundation,” said Bryan. “I now understand not only the underlying accounting and finance processes but, more importantly, how they connect people, processes, and technology across all departments and functions.”
Deloitte & Touche
Audit Associate, Deloitte & Touche, Washington, D.C.
Previous role: Financial Services Representative, First Citizens Bank
Academic background: Banking/Finance and MBA, Fayetteville State University
Dominique Stephenson started her career in banking, majoring in banking and finance, earning her MBA, and working at a bank on Fort Bragg serving a military clientele. She wanted more. “I met with one of my professors,” said Dominique. “That conversation opened me up to a world of potential that accounting could have on my future.”
With new direction, Dominique entered the on-campus format of the UNC Master of Accounting Program. Adding new skills and knowledge in accounting and finance to her resume and participating in the program’s robust recruiting process, Dominique landed a role as an audit associate at Deloitte.
She’s excited about her future. “My MAC degree has given me the foundation to go anywhere with any company in the world,” said Dominique. “The program has created opportunities that I never realized were available to me.”
Senior Assurance Associate
Senior Assurance Associate, PwC, Charlotte, N.C.
Previous role: English teacher, Clover High School
Academic background: English/Language Arts, Colorado State
Mark Loyd was a high-school English teacher in Clover, South Carolina, just outside Charlotte. While Mark loved teaching, he was looking for a career step that would allow for ongoing growth and stability. Enter accounting, and the online format of the UNC Master of Accounting Program.
With no prerequisite courses, Mark was able to jump in and immediately start earning credits toward his degree. More importantly, the flexible nature of the program allowed him to balance the demands of a full-time job, a growing family, and his studies.
Shortly after graduation, Mark started his new career as an assurance associate at PwC in Charlotte. “The biggest worry that I had when I started the program centered around getting a job when I finished,” said Mark. “That worry was relieved pretty quickly. To have a job 11 to 12 months before I finished the program was really good for my piece of mind.”
Marsh & McLennan
West Des Moines, Iowa
Staff Accountant, Marsh & McLennan
Previous role: Circulation Clerk, West Des Moines Public Library
Academic background: History, University of Iowa
As a volunteer intern at a local museum, Zach Sanders analyzed the financial information of institutional donors. Just as the study of historical documentation had fascinated him in college, this investigative work struck a chord with Zach and a desire to pursue a career in accounting soon followed. “I wanted an intellectually challenging career where knowledge, continued learning, and a critical mind would be rewarded,” said Zach. “A Master of Accounting degree would open that door.”
With a need to stay in his job as a librarian in West Des Moines and the desire to join a program that was both rigorous and open to non-accounting majors, Zach pursued UNC’s online MAC program. “I wanted a program that would challenge me,” said Zach. “The MAC taught me more in my year and a half than I would have gotten out of a full four-year program in most other schools.”
After graduation, a recruiter from Marsh & McLennan reached out to Zach, citing his MAC degree from UNC. He interviewed with the firm and was offered a job as a revenue tester in the company’s invoicing unit a day later. He credits the collaborative nature of the program for his successful transition from librarian to accountant. “Everyone I met was happy to work together to help each other better understand the material,” shared Zach.
Director, Accounting and Regulatory Services
Riverside Risk Advisors
New York, NY
VP, Accounting and Regulatory Services, Riverside Risk Advisors, New York
Previous role: Treasurer, BNC Bank
Academic background: Math/Economics, Lafayette College
When bank treasurer Leanne Fredericks asked herself, “What can I be doing to make myself more of an asset for my company?”, the answer pointed her back to grad school. And, with aspirations to, someday, become a CFO, Leanne realized that she needed an accounting background.
To make this happen, she enrolled in UNC’s online Master of Accounting Program, working full-time while she earned her degree, which allowed her to immediately apply the knowledge she learned. The new accounting skills also have made Leanne more well-rounded and have helped her develop her career.
Leanne chose UNC over other top business schools. “UNC is a name everyone knows,” she commented. “When you say ‘I went to Carolina’, that carries some weight.” Since graduation, Leanne has leveraged that reputation to advance her career and she now works as Vice President for a risk advisory firm in New York City.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer, Peter Millar, Raleigh, N.C.
Previous roles: Equity Analyst, Goldman Sachs; Corporate Strategist, Ralph Lauren
Academic background: Business, UNC-Chapel Hill
After earning his BSBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler, Jon Mark Baucom left Carolina for New York City, landing first at Goldman Sachs as an equity analyst before moving into a strategic role at Ralph Lauren. Five years later, Jon Mark returned to North Carolina to join Peter Millar, a leader in luxury fashion apparel.
As his career progressed at Peter Millar, Jon Mark, serving as the company’s CFO, identified the need to deepen his accounting knowledge. “As a publicly traded company, we have a lot of strict reporting and audit requirements”, he explained. “While I had a good background in financial modeling and strategy, formal training in accounting would help me round out my technical skills in those areas.”
Knowing that it would offer a challenging curriculum, Jon Mark joined UNC’s online Master of Accounting program, which afforded him the flexibility to manage a heavy workload and three young children at home. In the program, Jon Mark acquired the knowledge he was after, which helped him better communicate with accountants and auditors and tackle more complex business operations. “I can now drill down on accounting issues with much more accuracy and detail than I felt comfortable doing in the past,” he said.
Deloitte Private Wealth
CPA, Deloitte Private Wealth, Mclean, Va.
Previous role: Major, U.S. Army
Academic background: Business, Univ. of Louisiana-Lafayette; MBA, UNC-Chapel Hill
U.S. Army Major Brad Bertinot served tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea, among other locations. Already an impressive and experienced leader, he turned to the online format of the UNC Master of Accounting (MAC) Program to learn new skills in financial management, tax strategy, and auditing.
“There are a lot of similarities between accounting and being a scout pilot,” commented Brad. “In both situations, you’re receiving intelligence and, like a puzzle, you need to figure out how to apply it, whether it be on the battlefield or how those numbers are telling a story.”
Like many in the military, Brad needed the flexibility to take courses from any location. He also needed help managing his career transition. He found both in UNC’s MAC program, leveraging the structured recruiting process to land a job at Deloitte’s Mclean, Virginia, office. “For most military personnel, the big unknown is ‘How do I get that next job?’,” said Brad. “So, if accounting is something that they’re interested in, the recruiting process is a phenomenal way to get there.”
Thomas, Judy & Tucker
Tax Associate, Thomas, Judy & Tucker, Raleigh, N.C.
Previous role: Engineer, Cree
Academic background: Chemistry, Iona
Making the leap from a chemical engineer lab to the boardroom of a tax accounting firm isn’t easy, but Jason Pomerantz wanted to try it. “I realized the engineering wasn’t the path I wanted to go down,” said Jason. “My interests were shifting from science to business and accounting is at the very heart of business.”
To make a smooth career transition, Jason sought out programs that were highly ranked and that featured a strong placement rate. He landed in the online format of the UNC’s no-prerequisite Master of Accounting Program. “The UNC program definitely gave me confidence that I’d be able to go through the recruiting process and potentially get a job even before I graduated,” remembers Jason.
Following graduation, he started in his new career at Thomas Judy & Tucker’s office in Raleigh. “The MAC program is not going to give you all the answers,” noted Jason. “But it’ll give you the experience and knowledge you’ll need to find the answers.”