By Eric Lee, Lecturer and Director of Academic Quality & Training, Golden Gate University
I posed this exact question to my mentor, a tax partner at KPMG, one of the Big Four public accounting firms, in the 1990s. At the time, I had completed one year as a tax staff. My mentor answered my question by simply stating, “Yes, assuming you want a career in taxation.”
Thus, it quickly became a matter of “when”, not “if”, I should get my master’s degree in tax. Why was timing so important? Taking graduate-level tax classes is challenging. I wanted to take classes when I did not have other substantial commitments outside of my full-time job as a tax staff. In fact, I planned to avoid Spring semester courses because that was during the busy season when tax preparers often work 55-hour weeks.
Education for the Real World
Shortly after that conversation with my mentor and having just passed the CPA exam, I decided the time was right to begin taking classes toward the Master of Science in Taxation degree at Golden Gate University. Fast forward 25 years, I have enjoyed a very successful and rewarding career in taxation as a member of senior management at a very large public accounting firm.
I started my education at GGU in the evenings, walking the short distance from KPMG’s office to campus. I quickly realized that the classroom experience was like none I had ever had. The courses were led by faculty with substantial academic and real-world experience, bringing in concrete real-world issues and challenges. My fellow students had diverse real-world experiences, including working in small and large public accounting firms, corporate tax departments, and governmental agencies. The diverse student backgrounds helped trigger engaging classroom discussions as we explored the technical material.
I started my education at GGU in the evenings, walking the short distance from KPMG’s office to campus. I quickly realized that the classroom experience was like none I had ever had.
The reality is that the Internal Revenue Code is both voluminous and complex. The two thick volumes of the Code are longer than the seven Harry Potter books, combined! Further, the Code is supported by six volumes of Regulations, IRS Revenue Ruling and Procedures, and endless amounts of tax case law. It is impossible for any one person to learn it all. The magic of a Master’s Degree in Taxation from GGU is that it teaches you how to research, read, and apply the myriad of tax law to a taxpayer’s set of facts. So, even if you have never seen a set of factual circumstances before, you will know how to identify the potential tax issues and find the solution.
Another major benefit of getting a Master of Science in Taxation at GGU is the material learned is very relevant in the real world. Many times, I applied what I learned during class the next day on the job in a client situation. After three years of experience in public accounting, you begin having client contact. Talking directly to clients who are paying a substantial sum of money for your tax guidance can initially be intimidating. However, the knowledge gained during classes gave me the confidence to ask appropriate questions to understand the client’s facts. Also, by understanding not only the tax law — but also the underlying theory and purpose of the tax law — gave me the ability to explain tax issues and tax law to the client in layman’s terms.
Getting a master’s in taxation degree, especially while working, is not easy. But, neither is the tax law. Despite missing a few Monday Night Football games over the years, I never regretted my decision to get my master’s in Taxation degree.
About Eric Lee, CPA
Eric Lee is an accomplished professor with 20 years of university classroom experience, a CPA, 20 years of public accounting experience, and author of 5 published books. He holds a master’s degree in taxation (’97) from Golden Gate University.
A casual search of LinkedIn uncovers thousands of high-paying tech and business jobs in San Francisco. Shortages in the healthcare management and business analytics fields, combined with rapid growth in the tech sector, have driven abundant work opportunities.
Despite this promising outlook, recent graduates of any field face competition from their peers and those with greater experience. Choosing the right city to start a career can give graduates an edge in finding a great job.
It comes as no surprise that San Francisco has been named the best city in the US for recent graduates to find a job by the highly respected American Institute of Economic Research (AIER). The study looked at a number of factors, including unemployment rate, labor force participation, and how many people worked in emerging industries.
Located in San Francisco’s Financial District, Golden Gate University is situated as an ideal launch pad for graduates looking to advance a business career or break into a new one. GGU’s faculty often make a short walk – some literally across the street – to teach courses. Many currently work for international companies with a worldwide impact such as Google. Direct exposure to working professionals creates valuable networking and mentoring opportunities for students. Golden Gate University’s roots in the Bay Area business community go back more than 120 years, a history that has created a natural pipeline from the classroom to the executive suite.
“San Francisco is a great place to look to for work. There are a lot of magnificent local companies like Uber, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Apple, Microsoft, Charles & Schwab—and the list goes on. I believe this city has opportunities for everyone, whether a graduate is looking for a career in Marketing, Human Resources, IT, Finance or Accounting. As the technology hub of the world, the number of startups growing every day.”
—Jatin Jaiswal (MBA candidate, ’18) President Student Government Association
The Best City, Period
AIER also named San Francisco as the best city in the world for higher education when considering both quality of life and practical considerations. The survey found that the factors prospective students value most – the percentage of an educated population and diversity – are hallmarks of what locals call The City. AIER researchers also considered factors such as employment rate (a low 3.1% in San Francisco); arts and entertainment; the presence of science, technology, medical, and engineering workers; biking and walking options; and public transportation. As far as getting around, the new transit station a block from campus and its 4.5-acre rooftop park only adds to the appeal of GGU’s downtown location.
An interview with David Kaczorowski, MBA, Adjunct Professor of Finance in the Ageno School of Business
Would you please tell us your professional experience and what you teach?
After getting my undergraduate degree in finance at Boston College, I worked in actuarial analysis at Liberty Mutual Insurance. It was a great job, just not for me. So I went back to school for an MBA at Yale University and transitioned into the investments industry. After school, I spent five years in the investment banking industry working as a capital markets equity analyst. Those are the people who publish reports on stocks and rate them buy/sell/hold. After that, I spent two years managing a private portfolio for an individual investor, called a family office. Around that time I started teaching in the Master of Science in Finance at GGU, and now I do it full time. I teach Portfolio Management, Investments, and Derivatives at GGU.
Why do you like teaching?
What I like most about teaching is bringing practicality to the classroom. When I was in school some of the material I learned was very useful, some not so much. Now, after seven years in the industry, I have a decent idea of which concepts are used in investing and which ones rarely leave the textbook. The most satisfying part of teaching for me is to say to a class: “Now listen up, this is how it’s really done.” That’s something I think GGU does better than most. We’re located right next to the financial district and most of our teachers are working professionals. When students come here they expect a close connection to the real world. It’s something I wish I had when I was in school, and I’m really excited to bring it here.
I have a decent idea of which concepts are used in investing and which ones rarely leave the textbook. The most satisfying part of teaching for me is to say to a class: “Now listen up, this is how it’s really done.” That’s something I think GGU does better than most.
What do prospective students most want to know when they are considering a Finance career?
Many of them just want to understand what careers are available. In my field, in particular, students often come to me for help because they’ve done stock picking for a personal account, find it intellectually rewarding, and want to do it as a career. Most don’t really know what careers are out there, how they differ, and how to get them. Personally, I think that’s the whole point of grad school. Students have a few years in the working world and know enough to understand the areas that excite them, and so they go back to school to refine the road map.
What skills are needed for a finance career?
I might not have thought this when I was a student, but the business school core classes go a long way in a financial career. That goes especially for statistics and accounting, both hard-to-learn subjects but very useful in the real world. Just the other night I was having dinner with a friend who works in the financial industry, and we dug into how the interest rate environment will impact the Sharpe ratio of the fund he manages. It was right out of a textbook.
Communication is also extremely important, both in front of a crowd and one-on-one. Investment banks and hedge funds are famous for having a lot of strong personalities. It makes life a whole lot easier if you have the skill to, as they say, “tell someone to go to hell in such a way as to make them think they’ll enjoy the trip.”
We’re located right next to the financial district and most of our teachers are working professionals. When students come here they expect a close connection to the real world. It’s something I wish I had when I was in school, and I’m really excited to bring it here.
What are the upsides and downsides of the career?
As with most careers, the people you work with are a major part of the job. In my time in the business, I’ve known a few truly impressive minds: people I like to call “stock whisperers.” Getting to know them and watching them work has been a great part of the job. Hopefully a little of that skill rubs off. As for the downside, I’ll go back to what I said about strong personalities. Finance can be really fascinating stuff, but some jobs have a whole lot of grunt work, stuff that isn’t why you got into the business. The stereotype about working oppressive hours is true, and it’s no fun.
How should people decide where to apply for jobs in Finance?
I always tell students to keep an open mind about the next step in your career and don’t get too focused on one particular job. Who knows, you might take a detour that you end up liking more. At the moment, wealth management and real estate finance jobs are in demand, and equity analysis is less in favor. That doesn’t mean you should tailor your career to what gets you a job at this exact moment, but we have to skate to the puck. If you find yourself going down the wrong road on a career you don’t love, switch. Don’t waste your time.
What are misconceptions are there about the Finance field?
I personally have some political frustration about how our industry is viewed by the rest of the world. We in finance are too often seen as the evil empire. The fact is, finance and investing serve a vital need in the economy. Also, the reputation for being a cutthroat industry isn’t always accurate either. Out here in the Bay Area, there is a general attitude of cooperation, and that permeates into the industry. The finance industry here has a strong connection to Silicon Valley, and it adopts some of the same habits of collaboration and innovation.
Sadly, the stereotype is true that there are few women in the industry. In the local CFA Society there are 3,500 charter holders and only about a quarter of them are women. I never really knew why that is, but I hope it changes sooner than later. “Doctor Who” is a woman now, so anything is possible.
I always tell students to keep an open mind about the next step in your career, and don’t get too focused on one particular job. Who knows, you might take a detour that you end up liking more.
How do you start networking for a finance career?
Networking is definitely helpful. The industry runs on relationships and having the right ones can make a big difference. Many local professional organizations, like the CFA Society, hold events that are open to the public. I’ve met all sorts of interesting people at those events who become good friends. Another element to launching a career is doing it for yourself. A public speaker I once heard said about being a writer: “If you want to write, then write.” When I started in equity analysis I opened a personal investment account and bought stocks for myself. I kept clear notes and models that supported my positions and stood ready to talk with anyone about them. If you want to do any career you don’t have to wait for the job, you can do it today. If you want to invest, then invest.
What should prospective MBAs consider when selecting a specific graduate program?
This is a tough one. When I chose my program the biggest criterion was the personality of the school. Schools like Harvard and Wharton are great, but they weren’t for me. My class at Yale was full of misfits. There was a merchant marine, a rape counselor, a stealth bomber pilot, lots of really interesting people. I learned more from them over bad Chinese food than I did in the classroom. That’s why the campus visit is crucial. You have to go there and see the place for yourself, talk to the students and professors, and ask yourself whether you feel at home on an emotional level. It can be really hard to determine that, and a person can only visit so many schools, so it takes some luck to find one that really resonates.
About David Kaczorowski, MBA
Dave (David) Kaczorowski has worked in finance for more than 13 years. An experienced investment manager of private and family office portfolios, he has investment expertise in all the five major asset classes and experience in the holistic management of a family office. His most recent position was as the primary investment manager for a highly diversified family office portfolio. Prior to that position, he spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies. His resume in the industry includes Signal Hill Capital, Wedbush Securities, and Stifel Financial. He also spent seven years as a financial analyst in the actuarial department of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. He is a CFA charter holder.
A case study on the data analytics successes of Netflix came to life with a visit to a Business Analytics class by Andrew Massena, who serves as Senior Technical Project Manager at Netflix. Massena came by at the invitation of Tsovinar Yenokyan, a student in the Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications program (’18).
Massena presented on the topic of Marketing Analytics, and the class participated in a discussion about the Netflix Leading with Data initiative. Netflix uses algorithms to help predict user needs and behavior. Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Math Programs Dr. Nabanita Talukdar (and the class instructor) observes that: “Netflix has thrived because of its superior customer data and analytics. Data analytics gives Netflix the ability to predict what customers might want and provides an understanding of consumer trends.”
What I learned in the class, such as using the R data-analysis tool, will apply to my work on day one.
MS, Integrated Marketing Communications (’18)
Over the last six years, Massena has managed multi-team efforts such as launches in France, Germany, Australia, Japan, and worldwide. His areas of responsibility included ensuring proper catalog encoding and deployment, certifying region-specific configurations, new language support, and App submissions. Last year, Massena managed the effort of Netflix to enable downloading of content to mobile devices. His primary job is running the Netflix NRDP (Netflix Ready Device Platform) Program. He coordinates a cross-functional effort to deliver the latest version of the SDK to device partners (Sony, Samsung, LG, and others) on an annual basis.
Yenokyan says: “I started my own marketing firm in Armenia, and came to the US to expand my career and learn new skills. I want to continue my marketing career, and I need to be able to analyze data no matter where I go. For example, if you have a large customer data set, you need to know exactly who you want to reach. What I learned in the class, such as using the R data-analysis tool, will apply to my work on day one.”
About the Business Analytics Course
The Business Analytics course’s focus is the practice of business-oriented analytics using statistical methods using the R statistical software. The course introduces analytical techniques applicable for solving common business problems, techniques to analyze social media, and techniques to study data on Web and app users. Students are expected to acquire practical knowledge of computing and interpreting – correlations, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, t-test, regressions analysis, cluster analysis, statistical significance, run power analysis and compute effect size. During the course, apart from learning statistics and software R, students will be introduced to the concept of Application program interface (API) in the context of data retrieval from Twitter, Facebook, and Google Analytics. Upon the course completion students expected to be able to select the right statistical method corresponding to the business problem. Compute and interpret results of a statistical analysis and produce practical business recommendations.
For over 100 years, Golden Gate University has developed innovative programs that keep pace with the rapidly changing world of business. A new undergraduate concentration in the cutting-edge field of Data Analytics will prepare the next generation of business professionals to unlock the potential of Big Data. A shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts with the understanding of how to use these data has caused salaries for data analytics professionals to exceed $100,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The demand is also broad because Data Analytics skills are relevant to virtually all industries and disciplines such as Finance, Marketing, HR, IT, Operations, Supply Chain, and more.
The Data Analytics concentration in the Bachelor of Science in Business program will give students an edge by providing hands-on experience with tools that are essential to today’s workforce. These include:
Dashboards such as Tableau
Analyzing Social Media data using R Language
SAS software to analyze Big Data sets
SQL for manipulating and reporting data
Data extraction, transformation, and loading
After finishing each course, students can market themselves immediately to employers in a hot job market.
Beyond the Data Analytics concentration, GGU’s Bachelor of Science in Business program provides a broad foundation for success that includes training in management and other fundamental disciplines—plus opportunities to develop interpersonal effectiveness and leadership qualities.
Going Back to School?
The concentration in Data Analytics is ideal for those seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree as a working adult in their 20s, 30s, and beyond. Graduates of this program can enter the job market a step ahead of competitors who may have earned a degree earlier in life. In addition, Golden Gate University was named the #1 university for adult education in the US (Washington Monthly) because its programs are geared toward the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught either online or at the downtown San Francisco campus by faculty who are accomplished practitioners in their fields.
Small businesses and startups need more than just profits or investors to keep growing. Finding the right people to help them realize their vision is paramount. Unfortunately, human resources rules and regulations have to be considered and can be a barrier to moving forward. If you want to hire the very best people without a hassle, we invite you to hear from a panel of HR experts at a free GGU event: Mastering Human Resource Management for Small Businesses & Startups. Hosted by GGU’s Ageno School of Busines, the event is open to GGU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the general public.
The event will be s. A networking opportunity and refreshments will follow the panel presentation.
Katya Korepanova is an alumna of GGU’s Master of Arts in Industrial-Organizational Psychology program and currently leads HR and Culture at Leanplum—where she builds culture, onboarding, employee relations, and benefits programs. Leanplum is the most complete mobile marketing platform, designed for intelligent action. Their integrated solution delivers meaningful engagement across messaging and the in-app experience. Leanplum offers Messaging, Automation, App Editing, Personalization, A/B Testing, and Analytics.
Doug Devlin is an alumnus of the GGU Master of Business Administration program and CEO of Zuman. Zuman was founded in 2012 with a simple mission: to transform the people operations experience and help employees grow their companies. Zuman provides the premium single-source cloud solution for human resources, payroll, benefits administration, and talent management for better people operations.
Meet our moderator
LouAnn Conner is the Director of the Small Business Program at GGU, where she develops and leads programs supporting the success of up-and-coming small businesses. The proud recipient of Outstanding GGU Adjunct of 2015, LouAnn is Founder of SagaciousThink, LLC. LouAnn teaches a variety of courses in International Business and Strategy, Context of Business, Managerial Analysis and Team Dynamics and Entrepreneurship.
By Jelena Ristic Kelleher, JD Interim Associate Dean and Director, Undergraduate Programs, Golden Gate University
The life of an 18-year-old and that of a working adult are very different. “Adult Learners” – usually defined as above 24 years old by national higher education statistics – have more real-world responsibilities. Choosing where to get an undergraduate degree takes place in a different life context. While young people might look forward to lounging on the grass at an ivy-draped campus, adults might not even notice the landscape while on their way to class, work, or home. Older students often must overcome many obstacles younger people do not — some tangible, some a matter of attitude or assumptions. Here are the main examples of how Golden Gate University undergraduate programs are the best fit in the United States for adults who want to complete a bachelor’s degree (BA, BS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degree.
I don’t have enough time to go back to school.
For over 100 years, GGU has served the adult, professional student looking to change or move up in their career who was not able to put their life on hold to attend school full time. Pursuing an undergraduate degree when you are in your mid-20s or older does require a time commitment. We want students to have the shortest route possible to graduation. We actively help students to manage their time and schedule their classes. All students have a dedicated professional advisor who partners with them to create an individualized Path to Completion that fits their real-world commitments and keeps momentum toward graduation. The flexible schedule offering evening and weekend classes and different modes of course delivery — including online courses — makes it possible for students to incorporate education into their busy lives.
I once started a degree, but I won’t be able to use any of my past classes.
We want GGU’s Undergraduate Programs to be the last stop on a degree journey for our transfer students. Wherever possible, GGU eliminates the rehashing of prior education by accepting a generous amount of transfer credit for our AA, BA, BS, and Graduate programs.
I can’t afford to earn a degree that won’t add value to my life and career.
GGU makes the classroom experience relevant by integrating theory with real-world application. Our curriculum is designed to provide students with real, tangible skills that they can immediately use. About 80% of our instructors are current practitioners in their field who share their expertise and often become mentors and networking sources.
Adult education is different, and so is Golden Gate University. Throughout our history, we have designed programs, created policy, and streamlined process with the adult student in mind.
I will be the oldest person in class.
The average age of a GGU student is 35. We run our classes in a way that maximizes learning by integrating practical knowledge gained through prior life and work experience with academic theory. Combining prior learning, current learning at work and in life, and integrating those experiences as one can make school just one of the many activities that contribute to a student’s educational pursuit.
I don’t know how to choose a major or exactly what I’d want to do with my degree.
For adults, a college or university should be treated as something more than merely “a place you go to learn.” We make education ‘part of’ the plan, not “the” plan. Sometimes the initial concept of a new career or job does not turn out to be the best one. We help students identify their goal or series of goals early in the process. In UGP 10, the Gateway course, we take students through a curriculum specifically designed to identify the individual’s “sweet spot”: the intersection of their professional, personal, and educational goals. Ensuring alignment means the program is the right fit and students have a clear understanding of how their degree will help them get to what’s next. It is not just a matter of choosing an undergraduate business degree that focuses on management, accounting, finance, human resources, data analytics, psychology, information technology, or marketing; it is establishing the foundation for the next career step and coordinating the series of steps on the path to a dream job.
I am too old for financial aid.
There is no age limit for financial aid. There are various types of financial aid as well as scholarship opportunities available to GGU students. For federal aid, the adult student needs to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Additionally, GGU is proud to be an official Military Friendly institution and is in the top 15% nationwide of colleges and universities who have committed to a large dollar grant to the Yellow Ribbon Program for our country’s Veterans to start or complete their educational goals.
Defining Adult Learner vs. a Non-Traditional Student
The “adult learner” is gradually becoming known as the non-traditional learner because this term considers other factors besides age. Statistics on the non-traditional learner reveal that this group is growing at a higher rate than their counterparts.
Adult education is different.
Adult education is different, and so is Golden Gate University. Throughout our history, we have designed programs, created policy, and streamlined process with the adult student in mind. We have a very strong identity in this area, and our organizational culture carries tremendous pride around helping adults meet their career and life goals.
The Best Choice for Adult Learners
Professional advisor to help schedule and navigate coursework
Average student age is 34
“Path to Completion” advising
Special class to create a nexus of interests and goals
Help with administrative university tasks
80% of faculty members are working professionals
Camaraderie and mutual learning among students
About Jelena Kelleher, JD
Jelena Ristic Kelleher began her career at Golden Gate University as a student assistant in the information kiosk while completing her Bachelor of Arts degree. Since that time, she has held numerous roles and is currently the Interim Associate Dean and Director of the Undergraduate Experience. Jelena has taught the Gateway to Success course since 2008 and also teaches the Prior Learning Assessment course and the Capstone courses for the AA degree and BA in Management. Throughout her various roles at GGU, her leadership and project management skills were instrumental in the development of curriculum and online tools for students. While working full time, Jelena also completed a Juris Doctor degree from Golden Gate University in the part-time evening program.
GGU’s Master of Science in Taxation program is ranked as the top tax program in the U.S. according to a 2017 report by TaxTalent.com. Our alumni go on to great careers at:
• “Big Four” accounting firms – Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG;
• Other public accounting firms (global, regional, and local) – BDO, Andersen Tax, Moss Adams, Marcum, and Eisner Amper;
• Private industry – Oracle and almost every publically traded technology company; and
• Government – IRS, Franchise Tax Board, and Board of Equalization.
This video features four GGU tax alumni who work at PwC, EY, Cisco Systems and Apercen Partners. They discuss how they chose their career path, give advice to prospective tax students, explain the many job skills that are required, and debunk stereotypes. They also explain how academics must be combined with real-world knowledge for professionals to succeed.
What Graduates Say
“I am a very proud of getting my degree at Golden Gate University…I used my school materials on the job to answer questions I had before meetings.” —Suzy Maalouf, Project Manager at Cisco Systems
“I had the flexibility to do online courses because I travel for work…Now I get to work with great tech companies in San Francisco like Uber, Zendesk, and Reddit” —Christopher Abad, Senior Tax Manager at Ernst & Young“I finished in 9 months and I met the firms and could network with companies and firms at GGU Lunch and Learn Sessions. When I had interviews, they recognized me and I recognized them.” —Daniel Sanchez, Tax Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers
“At GGU I learned how to do public speaking that is useful for talking to clients. Being able to come up with an idea and present to the client was huge.” —Wylan Lau, Tax Senior, Ernst & Young
“I was already working in the field for a number of years and was looking to ‘up my game.” —Charlotte Hoppe, Tax Manager, Apercen Partners