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MBA while working in public accounting

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MBA while working in public accounting [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 09:44
Hello all! I am currently a CPA working for a public accounting firm. I have been in public roughly 4 years and really have no plans to leave at this time. I feel there is still much more I can learn and I am looking to at least make it to Manager/Senior Manager (currently a Senior). As we know, those in public focus on the CPA exam, thus there is no push at all for anyone to get their MBA, which means they will not pay for it. At this point, I am pursuing an MBA for personal reasons as well as for the unknown in the future. My questions:

1. Is there anyone here also in public accounting who are currently pursuing an MBA or who have completed? Has it been beneficial in your current role?
2. Do I pursue my MBA now while I have the time (i.e. no kids), however foot the bill myself? OR do I wait until the day to move to an industry position with a company who will pay? At this point I feel I may be tied with a family and have little to no time to complete the program.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: MBA while working in public accounting [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2010, 22:39
vanderku wrote:
Hello all! I am currently a CPA working for a public accounting firm. I have been in public roughly 4 years and really have no plans to leave at this time. I feel there is still much more I can learn and I am looking to at least make it to Manager/Senior Manager (currently a Senior). As we know, those in public focus on the CPA exam, thus there is no push at all for anyone to get their MBA, which means they will not pay for it. At this point, I am pursuing an MBA for personal reasons as well as for the unknown in the future. My questions:

1. Is there anyone here also in public accounting who are currently pursuing an MBA or who have completed? Has it been beneficial in your current role?
2. Do I pursue my MBA now while I have the time (i.e. no kids), however foot the bill myself? OR do I wait until the day to move to an industry position with a company who will pay? At this point I feel I may be tied with a family and have little to no time to complete the program.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!


Hi, Vanderku! I'm currently a senior in public accounting as well (3rd year, up for manager in 2011), and am applying for PT MBA programs next year. It is a bit of a lonely road at times :) To address your questions:

1. Hard for me to say for sure, as I have not yet begun the process. I will say that I'm in a specialty practice more focused on financial valuations/economics, so I believe that I will get more out of an MBA program than your typical audit/tax folks. I think that education is highly valued within our field, and that the degree will help to set me apart from my peers when it comes to future opportunities.

2. This one depends on your goals post-MBA. Are you sure your current employer won't foot at least part of the bill? My Big 4 doesn't advertise it, but upon inquiry shared that they'll pay $35,000 towards an MBA. As that dollar figure is the standard 'policy' amount and I've earned some major goodwill lately with an overseas rotation at the firm's request, I will be asking that they contribute more. It's always worth a conversation!

From the standpoint of timing, would you expect to use this to specialize in a specific industry that you'd like to move into? Are you currently looking to get out of your specialty area within audit/tax? Do you think you'll be in public accounting for the long term? If you are currently in a LT relationship, is your partner supportive of you pursuing your MBA from both a financial cost and time perspective?

I can tell you that the prospect of balancing full-time employment at the manager level (in a role that requires international travel some of the time) with heavy coursework is pretty intimidating. Both programs I'm applying for (Booth and Haas) will require a lot of flexibility on my employer's part, but especially if I end up at Haas. The shuttle from San Jose up to Berkeley leaves at 4:15, so I would have to leave the office two days a week by 4:00... every week for THREE YEARS :shock: I don't expect to have much of a social life outside of school and work during those years.

In summary, I think you need to be sure that your employer will be supportive and have appropriate expectations of what your life will be like in the short term, what benefits you expect to receive in the long term, and why this is the right path for you to take. Best of luck in figuring it all out!
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Re: MBA while working in public accounting [#permalink] New post 01 Nov 2010, 19:40
Hey Vanderku, the answers to your questions would depend largely on what group within public accounting you are in. Are you in assurance, tax, advisory, transactions? Getting an MBA just for personal reasons doesn't seem to make economic sense given the financial cost of doing so. If you are in Assurance its pretty much unnecessary but if you are in Advisory it could be useful and relatively less uncommon.
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Re: MBA while working in public accounting   [#permalink] 01 Nov 2010, 19:40
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