Current Position: Experienced Tax Associate, PwC Boston
Previous University: Bryant University
Undergraduate Degree: Finance and accounting, with a minor in political science
Q: Tell us about your background before coming to the program.
A: I grew up in a small business—an Italian restaurant my family ran for 45 years. I worked as a waiter and a pizza chef on the weekends when I was in high school, and eventually I started helping out on the business end. It seemed to me that the people who could speak about the numbers were the people who really knew what was going on. One of my high school teachers always said that accounting is the language of business. So that’s what set me on my career path.
Q: Why did you decide to go for a master’s degree?
A: I knew I’d need the 150 credit hours to be a CPA. You could just try to reach that as an undergrad by taking extra classes, but I thought, why not differentiate myself by taking the big step up to a master’s degree? The opportunity to get exposure to a whole new school and set of faculty, staff, students, and connections was a big factor for me.
Q: Why did you choose Northeastern?
A: I wanted to stay in Boston because I had a full-time job offer in tax at PricewaterhouseCoopers. When I looked at schools, the reputation of Northeastern stood out to me—and the chance to be part of their incredible network after my degree was complete. Everyone from my admissions counselor to the program’s assistant director, Lizbeth Jones, went out of their way to answer my questions and helped me customize the program to achieve my goals. I was able to specialize in tax from the outset, which all schools didn’t offer.
Q: You passed your CPA exam recently. How did the MS in Accounting program prepare you for that experience?
A: The setup of the program made it super-easy to get organized for studying—the professors make the testing calendar very clear so you can plan your schedule.
Some of the faculty are also practicing CPAs, and being exposed to their knowledge at a master’s level was so valuable. The classes in the tax track were especially helpful. When I was studying for that portion of the CPA exam, it was much easier to prepare because I’d had such in-depth coverage of the topics in class. I sat for—and passed!—the Certified Financial Planner exam in March, and the topics on that exam were definitely covered in my coursework as well.
Q: How well do you feel the program prepared you for your future career?
A: I work at PwC on the personal financial services team; we handle the individual tax returns of high-net-worth clients. My experience in tax was limited before I came to the MS in Accounting program, but by the time I completed it, I felt like I had a strong array of tax concepts at my disposal and that I was very much prepared to start full-time work.
Northeastern also gave me the background I needed to pursue other exciting opportunities. I run an investment group on behalf of my family—we make mortgage loans to people who are fixing up distressed properties. I’d had a real estate internship in high school and so had a bit of experience there, but my Northeastern education helped me understand how to seek out and evaluate potential projects. I could see myself at the helm of a real estate investment firm someday, and I definitely feel I have the tools to get there.
“The only two people hired at EY in the Boston office in January were me and one of my MS in Accounting classmates. I think that’s a real testament to the program.”
“The people that surround me every day are just as eager to learn and develop their careers as I am,” says Dekel, “being around people who are of the same mentality pushes me to really challenge myself.”
“By earning my MS in Accounting at Northeastern, I’ve built a skill set that’s very flexible and adaptable in a changing environment, so I’ll be able to choose my own path.”