When Julia Switzky first arrived at Cal Poly, she was unsure of the direction her career would take. However, that all changed when she discovered the Cal Poly Accounting Club. After getting her undergraduate degree in economics with an accounting concentration, Switzky went on to obtain her Master of Science in Accounting in the Orfalea College of Business graduate program. Graduating from the program this spring, Switzky will be working for PricewaterhouseCoopers full-time in Los Angeles.
When searching for what path she should take in her college career, Switzky began attending the Cal Poly Accounting club meetings during her sophomore year. When she discovered that the club, its materials and people riveted her, Switzky then went to every meeting. During this time, she attended the club’s community service and social events and gained personal relationships with the executive board members.
“I looked up to them,” said Switzky on the Cal Poly Accounting Club’s Executive Board members. “This inspired me to pursue a career in accounting.”
After discovering her drive for accounting, Switzky applied for the club’s Executive Board and held the position of Director of Publicity during the 2015-2016 year. While working with the rest of the Executive Board, as well as the board’s advisor, Sheri Boscaro, Switzky learned how to debate ideas, turn her skills into strengths, and make hard decisions for the club’s future.
Switzky saw a vision for the Cal Poly Accounting Club. While in her position, Switzky worked tirelessly to rebrand and promote the club by leading all outreach and communications with students through social media, emails, posters and digital signage. Through Switzky’s efforts, the club saw a significant increase in its presence on campus and events and also doubled club membership.
During the summer of her undergraduate junior year, Switzky interned for PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four auditors and the second largest professional services firm in the world. During her three-month internship, Switzky worked with entertainment, media, communications and technology clients and enjoyed networking with as many people as possible.
When her undergraduate education was near complete, Switzky knew she wanted to continue her education. She then applied to the Orfalea College of Business Master of Science in Accounting program and was accepted. Throughout her one-year intensive masters program, Switzky has gained insight into the larger environment in which accounting operates and has built essential experiences in critical thinking, effective writing, presenting, and other technical skills. She also tutored Intermediate Accounting I and II classes for the college in order to help students reach their full potential.
While her time at Cal Poly may be coming to an end, Switzky will continue her passion for accounting by working full-time for PwC as an Assurance Associate. Her impact on the Cal Poly Accounting Club will live on and soon she will show the accounting world what she has to offer.
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.