In January 2020, students had an opportunity to study the fastest growing practice area in accounting professional services through the new Accounting Advisory course, offered as part of the “Janmester” session in New York City. Taught by Kofi Appiah Okyere, the course provided direct daily interactions with panels of experienced advisory practitioners from leading global CPA firms, as well as hands-on skills development in state of the art tools used in advisory services, some of which lead to certification.
The intensive 40 contact-hour session featured class meetings in CPA firm offices, as well as classrooms at Syracuse University’s Fisher Center, allowing students the opportunity to meet with practitioners at various levels of experience in their offices, as well as hear from them as panelists in the classroom. Course content was coordinated between Whitman School faculty and training teams at the CPA firms, thus ensuring coherence and relevance of what students learned.
“Students took part in hands-on activities during the week,” says Appiah Okyere. “Each student built robots to automate certain accounting processes in the accounts receivable and partnership tax preparation areas. They also developed dashboards for a random publicly traded corporation.”
He adds that executives’ use of such dashboards in monitoring clients’ financial performance is becoming more prevalent and a common engagement for CPA firms. What’s more, as businesses innovate and incorporate more digitization in processes, new tools are emerging. Students who can utilize these systems have a competitive advantage.
“The second part of the class taught us how to design the exact computer systems the CPA firms are using, to take the manual mindless work out of accounting, skipping to getting results you can actually analyze and work with,” says Tyler Coelho ’21, an accounting major.
Tyler Kelly ’20, accounting and finance major, says he appreciated the access to the alumni working at the Big 4. “I learned what some of their advisory practices do and why those individuals chose that path in life. We learned how to use RPA (Robotic Process Automation), which is a super cool feature to learn how to take big data and projects that would take a person hours but a robot minutes.”
Special thanks to all the guest speakers who took the time to share their insights with the students:
Josephine Bellon G ’17, EY
Steven M. Davis ’87, KPMG
Loral De Salvio, PwC
Scott Geddes, EY
James Kong ’99, EY
Jennifer L. Kreischer ’88, Kreischer Miller
Julie Kushner, KPMG
David Lan, KPMG
Dawn Levant, Kreischer Miller
Josh Ozpinar ’13, PwC
George Sandman, CoreValue Advisor
Bart Spiegel ’96 (WHIT/NEW), PwC
Tyler Vance, PwC
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