Why did you go into accounting?

From a very young age, I admired the financial aspect of business, especially when my father would come home to analyze his profits and losses for the day. My father owned a small construction business, where he sold building materials and constructed buildings and roads. He kept a record of every sale he made in a financial book, and it was fascinating to me because I was always curious about how he managed his business. In high school, I took business classes such as commerce, accounting, and economics, and I enjoyed learning the concepts of each class. Before I graduated high school, I made up my mind that I wanted to build my career around understanding the financial aspects of a business and the in-depth strategies behind companies’ financial planning. I declared an accounting major when I enrolled in college. Subsequently, I declared a second major and a few minors because I wanted to have a diverse perspective throughout my business career.

Who were your influencers?

My first influencer was my dad, but as time elapsed, I started admiring the goals that other individuals achieved, especially in college. My mentor and accounting professor, Patricia Galletta, has inspired me with her great story of how she became a CPA. She continues to support me by sharing various internship opportunities when they arise. She also motivates me to perform my best in class, and she gave me the great opportunity to attend the Women’s Leadership Conference when she nominated me to participate.

What do you think about accounting as a profession?

I think accounting is an interesting, yet challenging, profession. An individual who decides to become an accountant is expected to learn various soft skills, such as critical thinking, detail orientation, organization, communication, and problem solving. These individuals are also expected to learn how to use software such as Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks, Sage, and Xero. Furthermore, they must remain up to date with the changes in accounting principles (GAAP) and tax rules (IRS) by attending lectures or conferences on a regular basis.

Do you know what CPAs, CMAs, CGMAs, and CFAs do?

I am aware that CPAs work as consultants, rendering assistance to individuals and companies to reach their financial goals. These responsibilities are solely based on supporting government agencies, corporations, and individuals to prepare financial statements, tax documents, and manage audit tasks. Being a future CPA is not just a title to me. I want to be a professional CPA who will have the opportunity to learn and contribute to domestic affairs and enhance financial growth.

CMAs [Certified Managerial Accountants] and CGMAs [Chartered Global Management Accountants] are similar, except that CGMAs work globally. Individuals with this designation have a greater focus on managerial accounting, which includes cost accounting and financial planning within an organization. CFAs [Chartered Financial Analysts] are financial analysts whose responsibilities involve creating portfolios for investors and analyzing different financial options for financial planners.

Being a future CPA is not just a title to me. I want to be a professional CPA who will have the opportunity to learn and contribute to domestic affairs and enhance financial growth.

Which areas of accounting are you interested in?

Throughout my college career, I have been exposed to the practice of financial accounting, cost accounting, managerial accounting, and accounting information systems. Thus far, I enjoy these areas of accounting, but I am more interested in financial, managerial, and tax accounting. I have yet to take an auditing class, so I will decide then if that’s an area that interests me as well.

Do AI, RPA, and other technology advances make you concerned about the security of your career?

From my understanding of AI and RPA [artificial intelligence and robotic process automation], as well as my practical experiences in class and my internships, the accounting profession cannot be replaced entirely by robots. There might be technological advances that enhance the accuracy of recording financial transactions to eliminate constant errors, but human capital is still needed to explain financial statements and analyze the transaction process for companies and individuals. Even the engineers who create the robots will need an accountant to explain to them what the robot needs to know to function efficiently. Therefore, I am not very worried, as a future accountant, about being replaced by automation.

Where do you want to go after graduation, and why?

I want to attend graduate school at Hult International Business School to pursue my master’s degree in international finance. This is another opportunity to expand my learning so I can build the professional skills and mindset to work globally. Upon graduation, I hope to receive employment letters from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, so I can decide which one of those Big Four firms I should work in to continue building my professional experiences.

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, or 20 years?

In 5 years, I want to complete my CPA exam, excel in each part, and successfully obtain my CPA license. I want to earn admission into my desired graduate school, Hult International Business School, to study international finance as my master’s program. In addition, I hope to be engaged with my future work experiences while I am pursuing my master’s degree.

In 10 years, I hope to have obtained my master’s degree and be an entrepreneur managing my own consulting/accounting firm. My business will be primarily focused on exploring financial opportunities to expand business growth for small-to-medium-sized companies. I hope to make my future clients feel financially confident in their business strategies and ventures.

In 20 years, I see myself growing my consulting business and expanding globally to assist other companies in different countries to reach their financial goals. Eventually, I will open another business venture that might be based on the fashion industry. While growing up, I helped my mother make beautiful neck accessories to sell, so this business venture is another idea that I might be willing to try. I want to travel globally to attend business summits, conferences, and meetings where important deals are being negotiated and secured. I will continue to keep a firm mindset to accomplish the goals that I desire.

Nicole Agu is an international student from Nigeria who decided to pursue her dream of becoming a CPA at the College of Staten Island. She is a part of the Verrazano School Honors Program at CSI, and is currently pursuing double degrees in accounting and international business, as well as minors in marketing, finance, and management. Ms. Agu has had three internship experiences in her college career. She worked as an intern for the New York State Small Business Development Center as a service corps intern for one year. Currently, she is working for the Center for Global Engagement at CSI as an accounting assistant and the American International Group as a tax intern. She has also participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, where she assisted low- and middle-income taxpayers with preparing their tax returns.