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Certified Success

December 1, 2021 Ali Pfeiffer
Michael McBride, Michael Wade, and guest

Michael McBride is, as many accountants are, incredibly pragmatic. This year, Michael (pictured above on the far left) completed his Master of Accountancy degree at the College of Business. In the end, he achieved his goal. He couldn’t be prouder. “I don’t want to sugarcoat anything—the experience was definitely hard and a struggle at times. But I’m so proud I didn’t give up. I accomplished all my goals while completing the program.”

These feelings are sure to resonate with many of us. Michael was one of many who looked upon the pandemic as an opportunity to invest in himself. He was ahead of the curve on remote work, as his career had begun with London-based tech company GSMA after receiving his BA in accounting from the University of Georgia. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Michael was already working remotely with GMSA’s Atlanta office on the Accounting/Finance team when the pandemic hit. As the world ground to a halt with restrictions setting in, Michael decided this was the time to elevate his education and in turn, his career.

“I had always heard UofL had a great accounting program, but once I visited the school and learned more about the program and the blended CPA component from Professor [Bill] Stout, I was sold,” he says. “I was already working remotely, so I moved up to Louisville and started school while retaining my position with GSMA.”

Moving to a new city, dealing with a global public health crisis, working a full-time job, and pursuing an advanced degree was no small feat. Michael stresses this point because there were plenty of times he considered throwing in the towel. He credits his support system for enabling him to achieve such a daunting goal. “I had a lot of times where I just felt like quitting. Michael Wade [School of Accountancy Director] kept me motivated, though. I really connected with him; I’m really grateful to him for his advice because it definitely helped me to get to the finish line.”

Accounting for Family

Even though they were hundreds of miles away, Michael’s family ensured he stayed focused as well. “My family came to visit a few times. They would stay just a night or two in a hotel nearby, but packed a lot of homecooked food in a cooler and bring it up and stock my refrigerator. It made all the difference since I pretty much survived on Chipotle otherwise,” he laughs.

Michael’s dad (a CPA himself and Michael’s inspiration to pursue accounting) also provided a source of motivation. “He enjoyed discussing my classwork with me. I think he was more excited than I was when I began my Corporate Taxation class and passed the Regulation CPA part! For motivation, he always told me, you can’t dance at the party if you don’t show up.”

The CPA exams are major milestones in the accounting career path. Michael threw himself into studying for each, and though he was intimidated, once he passed the first, he gained the confidence he needed to keep going. “I studied for three months for the first part, and I was really nervous on test day. Once I passed though, it gave me a huge confidence boost to sit for the remaining three parts while attending UofL. I felt like okay, I can do this!”

Michael has since passed all four CPA exams and is now a practicing CPA. The program was filled with difficult moments that paid off. He’s returned to Georgia and is excelling in his career. He’s honest about his journey because he knows how common it is for students to burn out. His advice is to recognize your struggles, reset yourself accordingly, and maintain a positive attitude.

“It’s really easy to get distracted or even complain, especially when you’re so worn out from juggling multiple responsibilities. Just realize that it’s going to happen sometimes. Keep grinding no matter how hard it gets. Once you do that, you’ll set yourself up for success, and it’s all worth it in the end.”

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