In fiscal year 2015, nearly 200 alumni, corporations and foundations gave back to Cal Poly’s Accounting Area through charitable contributions and matched gifts.
So what exactly did your contributions support?
In 2015, the Orfalea College of Business supported several outstanding faculty members with critical fellowships. Fellowships are also key in hiring new top-tier educators to led core courses in the undergraduate and graduate programs as long-time faculty retire. This year, these funds enabled faculty members to travel to national academic conferences to represent Cal Poly and engage in technical training.
Fellowships are the most essential tool for attracting and retaining excellent faculty — those whose expertise makes a direct impact on each Cal Poly accounting student today. Having enough industry-leading instructors ensures class sizes stay small and students can develop one-on-one relationships with faculty that last long after graduation. These faculty also develop new curriculum, including courses on Excel, and weave Learn by Doing into each experience to build confidence in students.
Contributions also backed dozens of student scholarships awarded to outstanding students concentrating in accounting. In 2015, the Orfalea College of Business awarded 40 scholarships to juniors about to embark upon internships during their senior year. Scholarships are sponsored by public accounting firms, major corporations and the Central coast Chapter of CalCPA. The area is currently working to raise funds for underclassmen and graduate program students to encourage these future professionals to pursue a career in accounting.
Thanks to your generosity, the Accounting Area continues to compete with larger universities to ensure the best educators and students remain part of the Cal Poly community. Many of your donations were doubled by gift matching programs offered through major employers. From individual donations to support from public accounting firms, each contribution added up to make a substantial impact on the longevity of our program.
To give back to the program and support the education of the next generation of accountants, visit Cal Poly’s secure giving website.
Akrem Azaiez begins each day at 6:30 a.m. Running on anywhere from three to five hours of sleep, he wakes himself up with a cup of coffee and a few minutes of his favorite activity: checking the international news.
Born in Tunisia and raised between Africa, France and Germany, Azaiez has a passion for global politics, cultures and languages, speaking four fluently. Since moving to the U.S., he spends what little free time he has trying to stay on top of what’s happening around the world and writing about his views on his blog, “The Nomad Times.” Once he feels caught up on morning news, Azaiez heads to campus for another day packed with a demanding schedule.
Azaiez finds himself on the West Coast, finishing his bachelor’s degree in accounting at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. Since 2014, he has carried a grueling schedule of 20 units each quarter, using his photographic memory and unique studying style to negate the need to take notes during lectures. If isn’t in class, talking to major recruiters, or running Cal Poly’s International Club, you would most likely find him studying at the library or his favorite coffee shop for two of business’ biggest exams.
Azaiez is preparing to take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA) and the Chartered Financial Analyst Exam (CFA) in parallel in 2016 — a daunting task for any professional, let alone an undergraduate. The CPA is a four-part, fourteen-hour test administered to professionals who wish to become U.S. Certified Public Accountants. The CFA is considered the “gold standard” for finance professionals worldwide and requires an estimated 300 hours of preparation to pass the three-part exam.
Passing either of these exams on their own is a significant feat, but it is especially rare attempt for a student, according to finance and accounting faculty at Cal Poly. Holding a bachelor’s degree is a minimum prerequisite to sit for these exams, and it is often attempted by professionals with years of industry experience. But tackling both, at the same time? That’s nearly unheard of in the undergraduate world, especially without the help of a professional or university preparation course.
So why take both exams now, especially knowing the exams aim for two inherently different career paths? In part, Azaiez’s motives are personal. He is passionate about self-education and enjoys having something to work towards.
“Intellectual stagnation means death for me,” said Azaiez. “If I stop studying or if live just to make money and bring in a paycheck, I would be depressed. I need to always have some sort of academic objective to pursue.”
There’s the also benefit of just simply having more options with both certifications.
“There’s no point in restricting myself when getting both gives me the opportunity to pursue more opportunities,” he noted.
But when you delve deeper into Azaiez’s motivations, you can see that taking these exams is much bigger to him than a side project or a line item on a resume. To him, passing the exams means opening up opportunities not just to advance himself, but to later advance the lives of others.
“Right now, this is all a very individualistic perspective of life,” says Azaiez. “Yes, I can go take the CPA, CFA, maybe go get my MBA. That’s all fine. But what am I doing that for?”
Azaiez says one of the biggest lessons he’s learned at Cal Poly has been the increased impact he can make when he looks beyond himself and focuses on someone else’s viewpoint.
“Emotional awareness and knowing how other people can be affected by your actions is very important, even in the professional world. That is something I learned here at Cal Poly.,” Azaiez reflects. “Next time you’re sitting down with a person, ask yourself, ‘How does she feel?’ or ‘How does he feel?’ I tried it in a class with Professor Jean Francois Coget. It literally changes the way you think.”
Azaiez says that he views this stage in his life as a “building phase”, where he will grow as fast as he can in order to achieve dreams larger than himself, like preserving peace in the Middle East or starting his own company to maintain economic stability in the international community.
“I think at some point, I want to be successful and shift that interest from myself to a community or a larger audience. Because then I can impact more lives, I can achieve a higher outcome for a more noble purpose.”
Azaiez graduated cum laude from the Orfalea College of Business at the end of the 2015 fall quarter. He plans to move to the Bay Area, where he’ll work for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services (CMAAS) associate. The job requires a lot of traveling, which will grant Azaiez the chance to network with professionals from different industries while providing consulting services. He also looks forward to leveraging the languages he speaks, and learning new ones, along the way.
And after that? Azaiez says that with the right attitude and a strong education, there’s no limit — no boarders — to what he or his fellow classmates can do.
“It’s about taking everything you’ve learned so far and using the resources you have. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you can achieve and the faster you can learn.”
Accounting alumnus George Famalett (Business Administration, ’86) reached a rare accomplishment last fall, one no other Orfalea College of Business alumnus has held. In late November, Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the California Board of Accountancy as one of only seven certified public accountants (CPA) to represent the industry’s professionals.
The organization, the only of its kind in the nation, sets standards for individuals, firms and educational institutions in California to ensure that only those properly qualified hold the title of CPA. This is no small task, knowing more than 100,000 professionals are licensed in the state. Famalett embraced this opportunity as a way to give back to the profession of public accounting where he has built his career.
“It’s very important that the industry is seen as regulating itself,” said Famalett, who is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Having spent my entire career in the industry, I feel like I have a vested interest in making sure that we do that effectively from the view of all key stakeholders, whether it be licensees or the public at large.”
During his tenure, Famalett and fellow board members will guide regulation on the mobility of professionals to practice in different states. The board is also surveying the implementation and impact of a 150 semester-unit requirement for the CPA exam. But Famalett says there are even larger issues facing the accounting profession.
“Looking forward, it’s about how either new technologies or new data sources can impact how accountants and CPAs do their job. Whether that be data analytics or other things, there are ever changing skills in information that a CPA has to deal with. We make sure that the right curriculum can keep up with those changes.”
Famalett has stayed close with Cal Poly as his work took him from international, to federal, to state and local tax. He served as a member of the Orfalea College of Business’ Accounting Advisory Board, which called upon him in 2008 to return to campus and teach several courses in the new Master of Science in Accountancy — Taxation program. He has also returned to his alma mater to recruit Cal Poly accounting graduates on behalf of PwC. He still remembers his college days fondly, recalling, “I remember Learn by Doing at Cal Poly, which, back then, meant working with a computer.”
His advice to students today? “I’d say take as many accounting and auditing-related courses that you can,” he said. “It not only helps you with the CPA exam, but it also gives you the foundation of knowledge that you can build on as you begin your career and learn the practical aspect of applying the theory you learned in school.”
Famalett is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, California Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting.
Area Welcomes New Faculty
The Accounting Area welcomed two outstanding new faculty, Adam Bordeman and Kim Westermann, for the 2015-16 academic year.
Dr. Adam Bordeman considers the Learn by Doing philosophy essential to the study of accounting, and enjoys teaching at all levels of the college. He brings his work experience as both an auditor and an accountant in private industry into his teaching. This approach earned him the Leeds School of Business Ph.D. Teaching Award during his doctoral studies. His research and teaching focuses on financial accounting and reporting. Specifically, he values the role that accounting plays in defining relationships between firms. Dr. Bordeman received his B.S. and M.S.A. from Marquette University and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.
Dr. Kim Westermann graduated from Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Science in accounting in 2000. She worked for Ernst & Young in San Jose, Calif. as an audit senior before relocating to New York City, taking a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, ending her career in public accounting as a full time instructor in PwC’s Learning and Education division. In 2006, she entered the inaugural cohort of the Bentley University Ph.D. program and was selected as the Henry E. Rauch Doctoral Fellow recipient. After graduating in 2011, she spent four years as an assistant professor in Miami at Florida International University. Dr. Westermann is interested in a variety of qualitative methods and conducts research examining auditor perspectives within their social context. Her in-process research is rooted within sociology and organizational behavior literatures, examining both audit practitioners and clients about their perspectives on current issues in auditing.
Professor Steve Mintz Receives Accounting Exemplar Award
The American Accounting Association recently honored Cal Poly Professor Steven Mintz with the Accounting Exemplar Award in the public interest section. The award is given annually to accounting educators and practitioners who have made notable contributions to professionalism and ethics in accounting.
With this honor, Cal Poly becomes the only educational institution to have two faculty members receive the Accounting Exemplar Award. Cal Poly accounting Professor Mary Beth Armstrong received the award in 2009. Previous award winners also include Cynthia Cooper, the whistleblower who exposed $3.8 billion in fraud at WorldCom.
“I’m thrilled that Steven’s thought-leadership has been recognized once again,” said Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson. “Having seasoned professionals like him in the classroom helps prepare career-ready graduates and affirms our accounting program’s powerful reputation.”
A veteran professor and dean in the California State University system, Mintz joined Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business in 2006. More than 40 colleges and universities have adopted his textbook, Accounting Ethics. He also writes blogs on ethics issues in business and society (ethicssage.com) and on workplace ethics (workplaceethicsadvice.com).
Professor Li Dang Ventures to China
Professor Li Dang is on sabbatical for 2015-16 academic year as a visiting faculty member at Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, China, a coastal city about 190 miles east of Bejing. The university is very similar to Cal Poly in that it is a comprehensive polytechnic school, but with a student population of about 38,000. Professor Dang is currently working with graduate accounting students to help them develop empirical accounting research. She also is working with a team of Chinese researchers on a handful of new projects.
Dang says she is happy to be spending a year in her home country, and that she is enjoying spending her free time at the beautiful beaches in Qinhuangdao.
MSA Tax Program Announces Rodney Mock as Director
Cal Poly’s Master of Science in Accountancy with a specialization in taxation (MSA Tax) program has selected Rodney Mock as its director.
The program, a one-year intensive tax degree that prepares its graduates for a career in federal, state or local taxation, has helped bolster Cal Poly’s position as a top recruiting school for the Big Four accounting firms. “With this experience, many of my students stay in public accounting and ascend to top management-level positions very quickly,” says Mock.
In addition to the standard degree curriculum, Mock will also be welcoming more than 40 industry professionals into the classroom as a part of the program’s Graduate Tax Speaker Series, which gives students a chance to network with and learn from innovative professionals in the field.
For more information, or to get involved with the MSA Tax program or Graduate Tax Speaker Series, contact Rodney Mock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rodney Pereira (Business Administration, Accounting, ’12)
Assurance Senior Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
“Countless students will tell you that Tad Miller made a lasting impression, and for very good reason. Not only does Tad engage his students, but he genuinely cares about each and every one of them. I recall the last day of his auditing class. He briefly went over what we were to expect in our final, and then changed his tone to deliver a passionate, heartfelt message about making a difference, caring for others, and approaching life’s problems head on. I don’t recall his words now, but I can tell you that I left that classroom ready to take on the world. We all did. That’s Tad in a nutshell, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to learn from–both about accounting and about life.”
Tony Narduzzi (Business Administration, Management Information Systems, ’00)
North American DevOps Team Lead, IBM
“It’s been 15 years, and so many of my professors were great. I’ll give two examples. I remember international business law with Chris Carr being very interesting and entertaining. He had real world examples and personal experiences to relate to every lesson. Even though it was an evening class during my last quarter before graduation, I looked forward to attending every class. Being an MIS concentration, who could forget Barry Floyd. He was quite possibly the most personable instructor ever, willing to discuss anything with a genuine interest in helping students find their way.”
Gaston Leyack (Business Administration, International Business; Wine & Viticulture Minor, ’03)
“Business Law Professor Chris Perello‘s laws of cooking: #1: there is no such thing as too much butter; and #2: there is no such thing as too much bacon. I may have reversed the order, but both still hold true in my cooking experience. Professor Perello made something quite dry and abstract very easy to understand and absorb. His presentations were clear and very engaging. I still remember there was one test question (or was it an assignment?) that involved a customer using “TurboLax”. I remember laughing out loud in the middle of the class.”
Kathy Black (Business Administration, Accounting, ’79)
Office Administrator/Donations Processor, Agape International Missions
“Dr. Charles Andrews was my advisor and my professor for a couple of upper level accounting courses in the late 1970s. He was knowledgeable and personable. He cared about what was going on with his students and he loved his subject matter. I had been a very good student mostly, but he noticed my grades slipping during a particularly difficult period late in my junior year, so he called me in for a meeting and wanted to know what was going on with me. He listened and then provided not a “fix” for my problems, but perspective that helped me make better decisions from that point on. I feel honored to have had him as my professor.”
Evan Kilbourne (Business Administration, Accounting, Economics Minor, ’12)
Senior Consultant, Rugeti & Associates, P.C.
“Rodney Mock, also known as the accounting department’s gym superhero. Mock is easily one of the brightest, down-to-earth, and effective accounting teachers there is.”
Larry Bello (Business Administration, Accounting, ‘84)
Partner, KPMG LLP
“While a number of professors were impactful during my years at Cal Poly, there are two that I felt were really special — Roger Bishop taught my individual tax and governmental accounting courses. Roger was practical, clear, had a great sense humor and kept the class engaged and attentive. He was the first professor I had that asked us to call him by his first name–friendly and approachable. Dr. Janice Carr taught my corporate tax course and cared about every student in the class. My friendship with Dr. Carr continued long after I left Cal Poly for KPMG — a great mentor and friend.”
Samantha Blonstein (Business Administration, Accounting, ‘12)
Senior Tax Associate, Grant Thornton
“My favorite memory is from Professor Mock’s class when he would play random YouTube videos during our class breaks and take us on Starbucks runs.”
James Main (Business Administration, Financial Management and International Business, ‘00)
Client Relationship Manager, State Street Corporation
“I recall the first day of Chris Carr‘s Business Law class. Right after he walked in, his dog, a Golden Retriever (I think her name was Khaki) calmly walked in and laid down in the corner. Being a dog lover, I thought, ‘I’m going to love this class/professor.’ The moment sticks with me… I’ve been the proud “parent” of three goldens since then.”
Chelsea Mallozzi (Business Administration, Accounting, ’14; MSA Tax ’15)
Audit Associate, KPMG LLP
“Tad Miller’s life lesson stories during our breaks in our accounting classes were always either funny or inspirational. They always made class that much better!”
Robert Knowles Business Administration, Accounting, ’72)
“Lawrence E. Baur, Jr., CPA, also known as Larry Baur was a very practical down to earth way-shower in accounting and auditing. He interjected his unique brand of humor into the most complex theories, always with a straight face. (e.g. ‘What happens when the fog clears in LA? UCLA!’). Whether it was tax, theory or otherwise, his classroom was where you would find me in the front row.”
Do you have a favorite professor from your time at Cal Poly? Share your Mustang Memory here: www.cob.calpoly.edu/mustangmemories.