Leading a Profession: A Q&A with alumnus George Famalett

10-Famalett2Accounting 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.