MAcc Alum Christopher Groll '17 Wins Prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award

The summer of 2018 was one to remember for Christopher Groll, MAcc ‘17, who received the highly prestigious Elijah Watt Sells award for his outstanding performance on his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination administered by the American Institute of CPAs in 2017. This is a rare achievement, as nearly 100,000 individuals took the Examination in 2017, but only 58 people received the award.

Chris grew up in the greater Atlanta area and majored in Finance at Georgia Southern University, after which he worked at Vinings Bank before deciding to continue his studies. He then attended William & Mary’s Master of Accounting program at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, drawn in by the top-ranked faculty and a desire to step out of his comfort zone. “The program is very unique,” Chris explained when discussing his decision to enroll. “It has the summer boot camp tailored to non-accounting majors which was perfect for me.”

When it came to his performance on the CPA exam, Chris attributed much of his success to taking three of the four sections of the exam during the spring semester of his accounting program, where he was studying for the exam every day. At the end of the day however, it was the merit of hard work and dedication that really earned him the prestigious award. “My greatest takeaway from the award,” Chris maintains, “is the satisfaction that the time spent studying really paid off and the decision to sacrifice the little free time I had during the MAcc program to dedicate to the exam was worth it.”

For current students at the School of Business, Chris had a word of advice on how to approach the CPA: “Take as much of the exam as possible before you begin to work.” While he realizes this may be difficult, Chris found it helpful to be taking parts of the exam while he was already in “study mode,” and it played a role in his truly impressive test performance that warranted the highly esteemed Elijah Watt Sells Award. Chris is now a member of KPMG’s Deal Advisory group in Atlanta, where he works on financial due diligence for mergers and acquisitions.