On Point: An A-Plus for ‘A&A’
The newest undergraduate program in Stevens’ School of Business, Accounting and Analytics (A&A), has just under 20 alumni. Yet many of these graduates from the Classes of 2021 and 2022 have interned or are working with the “Big 4” accounting firms — PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young (EY). Other graduates have secured positions with prestigious organizations as diverse as Bristol Myers Squibb and the U.S. Department of Defense. Successful career outcomes — defined by Stevens as successful employment, continuing education or military service, six months after graduation — stands at 100% for the Class of 2021. The Class of ’22 is also off to stellar starts in their careers.
The secret to the A&A program’s early success is a confluence of forces, its professors say. A diverse faculty recruited from the worlds of accounting, analytics, business, law and finance. A curriculum driven to address the latest technological challenges in business accounting and built with guidance from top accounting industry professionals. And talented, hard-working Stevens students.
“The success of our accounting and analytics majors is a tribute to their outstanding commitment and ability,” says Elaine Henry, professor of accounting. “The range of career outcomes is a feature of an accounting major — it opens doors to such a broad range of opportunities.”
Strong corporate partnerships from the program’s beginnings have made all the difference.
A Curriculum That Works in the Real World
In a 2015 white paper, PwC reported a gap between skills needed and skills taught by traditional accounting curriculums. In response, a task force of Stevens faculty led by co-chairs Henry and Associate Professor of Management Ann Murphy, set out to develop a modern accounting curriculum, one that would leverage technology and the analytical expertise of their university colleagues.
To fully understand the industry’s needs, the task force spoke with accounting experts about the program’s curriculum and what they are looking for in future hires.
What they are seeking in addition to accounting knowledge and communication skills, Henry says, are analytical skills — the ability to analyze data. With advice from these experts and with additional research, the task force solidified a curriculum that puts equal weight on accounting knowledge and technical skills. The program combines core accounting course requirements for the CPA exam along with 10 analytics courses in areas such as data visualization and information systems.
Brendan Dougher, former managing partner with PwC's New York Metro Region, advised on the A&A program. He praises Stevens faculty for seeking input from accounting professionals and for following through on that advice, to create a strong program.
“Their outreach was very timely, as PwC had just prepared a white paper on the topic of the growing importance of data analytics in the field of accounting,” he says. “I was impressed with how Stevens faculty took into account the white paper along with other feedback that I and others provided them with respect to the program’s design and content. It is exciting that students are now graduating from the program and landing great jobs, no doubt due to this program preparing them well for the pressing needs of the profession.”
A&A Degrees in Action
The first class of A&A majors arrived at Stevens in 2017, and they have, indeed, been a true success story. Demand for these students and graduates has been strong, with students interning and working with top accounting firms as well as major companies like AT&T and UPS, revealing the need for strong accounting and analytical skills across diverse industries.
A&A’s recent graduates are filled with gratitude for their Stevens experience, and excitement for what’s ahead.
Matt Gordon ’21 M.S. ’22 just passed his CPA exam and started with PwC in Manhattan, as an associate in its real estate department, this past June. Compared with his colleagues, he finds that he has many more analytics classes under his belt. He’s comfortable learning new software and attributes some of this to his many analytics courses at Stevens.
“It’s learning how to learn,” he says. “It sets you up to be a good problem solver.”
Ana Marija Micevska ’22 joined Deloitte in Manhattan this past August, with its Risk and Financial Advisory Department; she had also interned with the company. As she launches her career, she says she feels ready. At Stevens, she worked with the Stevens Student Managed Investment Fund, through which School of Business students manage a portion of the university’s endowment, in a two-semester course.
While the A&A program helped her gain technical knowledge, it also sparked her creativity and honed her people skills — which will suit her well in the workplace, she says.
“I learned that I can create a strategy for a better product or create an improvement to absolutely anything, even a garbage can,” she adds.
Partners Keep the Program Evolving
The A&A program has an ongoing dialogue with industry professionals, to keep up with current and future needs, Henry says. Faculty periodically reach out to industry professionals; Henry will host several guest speakers from industry in one of her courses this fall. She has also been in touch with School of Business alumni, speaking with them about the skills they find most useful in their jobs.
The School of Business’ Corporate Outreach & Professional Advancement Office (COPA) — which helps A&A and other School of Business students obtain internships, among many other duties — holds job fairs that invite industry professionals to recruit. This past April, COPA sponsored an in-person networking event for accounting and analytics majors and invited recent graduates who work with accounting firms. Indeed, Stevens alumni have an important role to play.
Readers interested in recruiting A&A or other business students, and in other volunteer opportunities with the School of Business, can contact COPA Director Nicole Malantchouk at [email protected].
— Beth Kissinger and Garrett Kincaid