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An Interview with Young Alumni Board President Alan Nguyen

An Interview with Young Alumni Board President Alan Nguyen

Interview with Alan Nguyen Young Alumni Board President
Photo: Alan Nguyen, Jessica Pu, and Sydney Yuen


On August 31, 2023, Officers Noah Chak, Sydney Yuen, and Jessica Pu from the Santa Clara University Accounting Association had the opportunity to interview a member of the Accounting department’s newly created Young Alumni Board, Alan Nguyen. The officers were able to learn more about Alan’s experience, both professionally and while he was a student, and received some great advice that everyone should utilize.

Alan graduated from Santa Clara University in 2013 with a degree in Accounting and Information Systems (A&IS). During his time on campus, Alan was involved with the Crew Team, ASG Judicial Branch, ACE, and a fraternity. Following his graduation, he started his career with Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) and has since climbed the ladder to be a Director of Consulting in the firm’s Cyber, Risk and Regulatory Consulting practice.

During our interview, Alan expressed his excitement being on campus again and the opportunity to meet and help more students within the Accounting Department.

Q: Why did you decide to get involved in the Young Alumni Board, and what are some of your goals for it?

Alan explained that he had the idea to start a Young Alumni Board for years, but it was only until Professor Siqi Li, Accounting Department Chair, reached out with the opportunity that this came to fruition. Alan wants to help enable students to take control of their career. Helping students grow their identity is a priority, but he wants to help students grow their professional career and focus on things that students may not get in the classroom. He also hopes to grow the board with a wide range of alumni that all have different experiences and career paths. However, Alan wants to not just help students, but also the recent graduates. One of his goals is to help the younger alumni network grow stronger through networking and connecting with each other. Alan mentioned that everyone has different paths, but that “it all starts with a degree in accounting.”

Q: What made you decide to major in Accounting & Information Systems (A&IS) rather than just Accounting? What was the most valuable lesson you learned?

Alan explained that accounting is the language of business and technology enables businesses to conduct business. He mentioned that accounting is not just spreadsheets and while requires technical knowledge, is not complete without understanding the technology and systems behind it. By having the A&IS major, it bridged the gap between the technology and the technical accounting pieces. His most valuable lesson he learned was from an OMIS class when he was learning how to code in Java. “The class taught me not just how to code but how to think. How do you think about the bigger picture? Why are you doing what you are doing? Why does it matter? This class helped push me to learn how to problem solve and how to think critically.”

Having a good mentor along the way is important in business. By having a successful role model paving the way and guiding you, it makes life a lot easier. Alan expressed his gratitude to the incredible faculty throughout his time at SCU in sharing their experiences. “Whether it was former Partners, CEOs, CFOs, it was cool to hear their stories and learn about their journey.”

Q: What are some suggestions you have for accounting students?

Alan had very thoughtful and insightful advice that applies to all young professionals. It all starts with your long term goal, whether it is to start your own company or retiring early. Having a long term goal in mind goes a long way. “You never know where it’s going to take you. You never know where you are going to end up. [But] have a one to two year plan that [aligns] with your long term goals. You’re going to experience setbacks and it’s not going to be an easy road. But, if you have a long term goal, you don’t have to sweat the little things.”

As for accounting students specifically, Alan mentioned how it is much harder to go into accounting later on versus starting in accounting and then leaving. A great analogy that depicts this is, accounting is a square peg that can fit into a square hole and a rectangular hole, but if you are a rectangular peg, you cannot fit into the square hole. Alan referenced the diversity of the board thus far. “If you look at the board, we have a very diverse board. Everyone has ended up in different places and positions, but it all started with a degree in accounting.”

His final piece of advice, utilize what you have around you. “Reach out to the Young Alumni Board or anyone in the department. Everyone wants to give back to campus. Leverage your network and your resources.” Alan emphasized that some of the biggest strengths of the department is the experience of our faculty and the resources that we have access to. Alan emphasized that utilizing those resources helps you out more than it may seem.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to your college self now?

Alan’s biggest takeaway from his time after graduation is how important networking and building relationships is. The accounting department can help students get in touch with an abundance of alumni who now work in a variety of fields and industries. Alan would suggest to his younger self and current students to utilize that database and to start reaching out to alumni and learning more about careers and paths that interest them. 

He mentioned that not only is it important to make connections with alumni and professors, but to also grow your network of peers. As well to always treat others with respect and kindness because you never know when you may see them again. As well, you can meet even more people through the peer connections you build now, which can assist in creating a vast and diverse network. “The people you meet today are the ones that help pay dividends in the long run.” 

Lastly, he emphasized that it is always valuable to work hard and try to be as involved on campus as you can. Although you may not know what you want to do in the future, it is always important to put your best effort into whatever you are doing; whether that be a sport or a class. Building a good work ethic and learning how to be a team player are essential skills to have when starting work full time. 

Q: How do you foresee the accounting landscape changing over time with the rise of AI and automation?

Alan acknowledged that AI will certainly become a significant presence and change the functioning of many industries, but he emphasized his belief that “how we do things will change more”. For example, he mentioned that there will surely be changes in how clients utilize technology and therefore the importance in understanding how technology will help them grow in efficiency. One result of the rise of AI and automation that Alan sees becoming important is how to “do more with less”; in short, this change in technology doesn’t have to be viewed as a threat, but should instead be viewed as an opportunity for better efficiency.

Alan also emphasized his belief that the rise of AI and automation does not lower the value of education. He discussed his belief that yes, certain processes are going to be automated, but there is still a “need for judgment and expertise”, and AI cannot replace that. AI is a tool that Alan believes should be embraced as it can enable us to do our jobs “better, faster, differently, and efficiently”. As mentioned with how technology can increase efficiency, this is ultimately the purpose of AI from Alan’s perspective, and he believes that we should be leveraging this tool.

The rise of AI and automation can certainly seem intimidating, but Alan believes that this “doesn’t mean it dilutes what you bring to the table”. Instead, AI is a tool that can help us improve in aspects such as accuracy, and ultimately, it can help us better understand technology.


Written by SCUAA Officers Noah Chak (Accounting ’24), Sydney Yuen (Accounting and Information Systems ’24), Jessica Pu (Accounting ’25)