In The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Accountancy, the numbers tell the story – more and more graduates are landing jobs with prestigious companies.
Graduates like Analise Counts, of Mobile, Ala., who obtained her undergraduate degree in accounting and Master of Public Accounting from Southern Miss before securing a position with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Just one month after obtaining her MPA, Counts went from student to corporate climber in the frenzied markets of New York and Los Angeles.
“I never dreamed I would be out here,” said Counts, who works as an Experienced Assurance Associate with Consumer Finance Group (CFG), a subsidiary of Pricewaterhouse. “I started in the New York office in January and after training there I went to Los Angeles for the busy season. I knew I really didn’t want to leave L.A. and when I was given the opportunity to stay, I couldn’t say no.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers is one of the acclaimed Big Four public accounting firms, along with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG. In the past two years several other Southern Miss accounting graduates have been given employment opportunities by one of the Big Four, including the following:
Dr. Lance Nail, dean of the College of Business at Southern Miss, credits the hard work of the School of Accountancy’s faculty – and particularly the efforts produced by Director Skip Hughes and Professor Michael Dugan – for raising the business school’s profile.
“A faculty long dedicated to student success has found a renewed spirit under new and permanent school leadership,” said Nail. “After many years of interim leadership, the school is now headed by Dr. Skip Hughes and the MPA program is under the direction of Dr. Mike Dugan. The infusion of their leadership, with the teaching talent present in the school, has led to a more rigorous curriculum, greater faculty-student interaction and the positive outcome of better-educated accounting students who are in high demand for career opportunities.”
Sutton, a Gulfport, Miss., native, joined Ernst & Young three months ago and works in Assurance Services. His primary duties include conducting walkthroughs; counting inventory; sending bank reconciliations and tying out major accounts.
Sutton considers himself blessed to work in the New Orleans corporate culture and singles out Dugan for making the opportunity possible.
“Dr. Dugan had some recruiting contacts in New Orleans and was able to get me an interview,” said Sutton. “My personal belief is that without having Dr. Dugan as a resource I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.”
Dugan joined the Southern Miss accounting faculty in the fall of 2010 after 25 years teaching at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Accountancy. A Dallas, Texas native who grew up in New Orleans, Dugan was recognized by the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants as the 2009 Outstanding Accounting Educator.
In countless speeches, Southern Miss President Martha Saunders has emphasized that a major part of the university’s mission is to assist graduates in finding upper-tier job opportunities. Dugan has been tireless in honoring that message.
“I consider it an important part of my job to help students who have earned my respect get placed in premier entry-level positions,” he said. “To me, it is as important a component of being an effective and influential teacher as technical classroom competence.”
When asked to offer the best advice he might give to Southern Miss business students, Sutton said, “Use the resources that are available to you. Especially the professors; they are a wealth of knowledge and have much to give in the way of guidance, professionalism and strong resumé-building technique.”
Because – as they say – the numbers don’t lie.
To learn more about the School of Accountancy at Southern Miss, call 601.266.4641 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/business/accounting.