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Alumni Panel Offers Insights into the Corporate World

An alumni panel on building a corporate career with an accounting or finance background helps first-year and sophomore students learn about the ample opportunities in accounting and finance.

On November 7, 2017, Professor Chris Paisley moderated a newly-created panel discussion titled “Building a Corporate Career with an Accounting/Financial Background.” Five Santa Clara University alumni, all of whom majored in accounting and began their careers at public accounting firms, returned to campus to talk about their careers, career choices, and advice. About 80 students attended the event, of which 2/3 were first-year students and 1/3 were sophomores. The feedback was enthusiastically positive. 

“Thank you. The students said it was GREAT! They really enjoyed it,” said Theresa Strickland, whose Business 70 (Introduction to Business) students attended.

Building on the positive response, Professor Paisley moderated a second panel discussion for first-year students on October 30, 2018. This second panel followed a similar format. About 110 students attended the 2018 panel, of which about 80 percent were first-year students and 20 percent were sophomores. The audience was more active in this second event, continually asking questions through the entire event.

According to Professor Paisley, the goal of the panel is to expose students, particularly first year students considering majoring in accounting or A&IS, to opportunities in the business world beyond public accounting.

“Almost all accounting and A&IS majors are well aware of the public accounting profession, as those firms do an exceptional job of marketing on college campuses," said Professor Paisley. "But there are some students who forgo public accounting, and even for those who enter public accounting, a transition to the corporate world is commonplace. The panels are aimed at describing career opportunities for students that major in accounting or A&IS outside of public accounting.”

The alumni who contributed their time to these panels included,

November 2017 Panelists:

Tony Driver ’11, Sales Executive, Oracle
Stephanie Han ’08, Revenue Operations Manager, Hortonworks
Jay Maglione ’13, Product Manager, Nimble Collective
Tanya Pastrano ’06, Controller, Munchery
Bobby Shellworth ’13, Investment Banker, B of A / Merrill Lynch

October 2018 Panelists:

Veronica Bass ’11, Associate Finance Manager, Juniper Networks
Scott Clark ’07, Controller, Lime
Colleen James ’07, Accounting Manager, Biggs Cardosa Associates
Shannon Wang ’12, Director of Finance, Santa Clara University
Joseph Wattoo ’09, VP and Chief of Staff to COO, MGM Resorts Intl

Each of the panelists noted how their accounting background has proven helpful to them in their chosen fields, with comments like, “Accounting is the language of business, no matter what part of the business you are in.” Each stayed afterwards to speak with students individually. We wish to give a special shout out to Joey Wattoo, who flew in from Las Vegas to be on the panel (and returned to Las Vegas after the event ended).

We plan to offer the panel again next fall. Advisory Board member Jack Lazar, former CFO at Atheros and GoPro, has volunteered to moderate the 2019 event. Former SCU accounting/A&IS majors who would be interested in participating in future panels are encouraged to contact SCU’s Center for Accounting Research and Education (CARE) Director Mike Calegari (


ACTG, Accountant 18,