Mary Dolan

Class of 2010

Hometown: Alexandria, VA
Undergraduate University: Christopher Newport University
Class Year: 2008
Major/Minor: Business Administration (Accounting Concentration)
Employer: PBMares, LLP
Position: Senior Manager

What prompted you to return to school and earn a MAcc?

I chose to return to school for my graduate studies because, at that point in time, the credit requirements for the CPA licensure had recently increased from 120 to 150 credit hours. It seemed like a wise choice to advance my learning in the field of study I was most interested in and to have a Master's degree to begin my career. It also made more sense to take the additional 30 credit hours in areas that would advance my professional growth.

Why did you choose the William & Mary MAcc program?

Simply put, reputation and location were my primary reasons for choosing William & Mary. I am a closet history fan (although that known fact may get out now!), and the idea of being in Williamsburg with its rich history was very appealing, not to mention its proximity to Northern VA, where my family resides. William & Mary's reputation speaks for itself, and it is continuously ranked among the most prestigious universities. The familiar story comes from my grandmother, a graduate of Radcliffe College (the female Harvard). We often debated who came first, Harvard or W&M? (Harvard won that distinction, by the way), but it was a debate I was happy to concede as she reveled in the fact that I attended her "rival" college.

What were some highlights for you during the MAcc experience?

The biggest highlight of the MAcc program was the professors. It was the first time I got to experience professors as "real people." They were (are) remarkable thought leaders gifted in their craft and exceptional at creating an encouraging learning environment built on a functional curriculum based on real-life experiences. What we were learning was not just theory out of a book but a real-world application that would prepare us for the careers we so desired.

How have you applied what you learned in the program to your work?

I use everything! Literally, everything. I would not be where I am if not for the advanced topics I learned, specifically in Professional Accounting 1-3. The biggest takeaway in the real-life application was our final project, "negotiations," whereby we had to enact the role of the client and the accountant and negotiate our position based on accounting guidance. It's incredibly applicable to what I do daily with so many clients. Also, I learned my fidget points from being required to watch the recorded video. This type of emphasis on soft skills wasn't even a widely encountered concept until about 5-6 years into my career. I am grateful for this feedback as it helped craft and hone the professional I am today.

What value has the MAcc degree had on your professional growth?

I'm not sure I attribute the degree itself for my growth, but the people (professors and students) and the knowledge itself is what has driven me to stay in public accounting and really propelled me to stay on the partner path.

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