Current Position: Assurance Associate, PwC
Previous University: Northeastern University (Double Husky)
Undergraduate Degree: Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Business Analytics
Q: You’re originally from Haiti—how did you discover Northeastern?
A: I came to the United States when I was six years old, and I spent my high school years in New Jersey. I was part of the C5 leadership program during high school and got the chance to visit Northeastern, where a panel of Northeastern students talked to us about the undergraduate co-op program. I thought, being able to graduate with a year and a half of real-world experience was unheard of and incredible. So when I was accepted to Northeastern, that was it. I knew I was going here.
Once I was on campus, I got involved in groups that really helped me flourish in the Northeastern community. I was the treasurer of the Northeastern Black Student Association and also the president of Haitian Student Unity. Because I was taking undergraduate courses in business and accounting, I was able to help them get all the resources they could and see how we could leverage other school funds to do great events and connect our student body to opportunities.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in accounting?
A: I wanted to pick a major with flexibility and exposure to a variety of areas. Every business has an accounting group, which meant I could work in any industry: I could work for a nonprofit, I could work in finance, or even start my own company. I knew it would open up doors to try new and different opportunities so I could follow my interests wherever they led.
I also love coding—my minor was business analytics—and I knew accounting was headed toward technology-based work. I did my undergraduate internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where I saw first-hand that they needed people with experience in data software. They offered me a full-time position, but first I really wanted to gain confidence in accounting and build on the tech skills I had learned as an undergraduate. I looked to the MS in Accounting program as it was short, intensive, and of high quality. The professors are highly regarded—for example, the person who taught me the tax class literally wrote the textbook. The program was only seven months long and would grant me the credits to sit for the CPA, so joining the program as a Double Husky made perfect sense for me.
Q: How did the degree prepare you for a future in accounting?
A: For starters, our professors were keen on introducing us to new data tools and preparing us to be agile for the changes coming in the industry. They also brought in speakers who could share their experiences and offer insights into the kinds of opportunities available. FBI agents even visited my forensics class and gave us feedback on our projects and talked to us about their day-to-day work. I was able to conduct research for a professor related to fraud and data mining, and I also did a bit of coding. It was a very rewarding experience.
The program is heavily project-focused, which improved my skill set and gave all of us a chance to bond as a class. We had one semester-long project where we took over an internal audit task for a real client—we conducted employee interviews, created flow charts, mapped out the process risks, and proposed our own solutions. That’s exactly what we’d be doing in the real world. Having that experience made me so much more knowledgeable and confident.
Q: How are you using what you learned in your program on the job today?
A: My audit class focused on assertions and control testing, which is what I do as an assurance associate. When I participated in training for my position at PwC, it just felt like a review of something I’d already seen. That made me so much more comfortable and confident starting in my new role.
Q: What advice would you offer to someone considering the MS in Accounting?
A: I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this global peer network, distinguished faculty, and unmatched learning environment. You’ll do a lot of work to earn this degree and you will definitely be challenged, but you’ll also meet lots of great people—I had classmates from Germany, from China, and so on, and it was really cool to learn about their experiences and bounce ideas off each other. The faculty do a great job of scheduling the semester to give you room to study for your CPA exams and take them as you’re learning. The professors are available to you outside of class, and they’re open to your feedback on what works and what doesn’t, especially in this time of COVID. Everyone involved with the program is so approachable and ready to help you succeed—it’s a tremendous opportunity.
“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.”
“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 thanks to the MS in Accounting.”