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Darla Moore School of Business

MACC alumnus begins career as Atlanta staff auditor

Image of Gabriel Christian

Moore School alumnus Gabriel Christian (’19 accounting, ’20 MACC) is using the skills and knowledge he gained from his undergraduate and graduate degrees to attain his new role as a staff auditor for Cherry Bekaert LLP in Atlanta.

While still in school, Christian worked part-time for Peralta Woodworks Inc., a woodworking business in Columbia, South Carolina, as part of the accounting department. Christian said he learned a lot from the experience that couldn't be taught in a textbook.

“I learned how to effectively communicate questions and problems to superiors, organization, time management, task management and customer interaction,” he said. “I had to learn how to complete the tasks given to me in the little time I had working part time. It became important to keep open communication with my bosses about the status of different tasks and how I planned to complete them.”

With his hiring in August 2021 by Cherry Bekaert LLP, Christian began working as a staff auditor and now works on several different accounting projects.

“I follow audit programs to perform testing over different financial statement accounts,” he said. “I also draft questions or emails to send to clients regarding different transactions or request additional information that we need for testing.”

To ensure he was equipped for an accounting career, Christian chose the Moore School’s accelerated accounting program that allows undergraduate accounting majors to also earn their Master of Accountancy because he considered it a “natural progression”.

“I would recommend the accelerated program because it helps prepare you for graduate school before you finish your undergraduate degree,” he said. “You get exposed to the different responsibilities and workload of graduate school, which helps you build confidence in your ability to complete the master’s program. Also, you have the ability to lighten your course load depending on how many classes you knock out in advance.”

Christian said the MACC program taught him valuable skills that prepared him for his current role. Effectively working in a group was one of those attributes he learned. 

“We had multiple group projects throughout the MACC program, which helped as I transitioned to public accounting where all of my work is in groups,” he said. “I learned how to work with a team and how to communicate with the group to get tasks done.”

Before starting his job, Christian passed his Certified Public Accountant exam. For Christian, passing the CPA exam before starting his job was a "sigh of relief."

 “I was glad to put the exams behind me and solely focus on work and adjusting to life after college,” he said.

Christian says several of the classes he took prepared him for specific sections of the test, along with encouragement from fellow MACC peers.

“Being around other people taking the exam provided a great support system,” he said. “Everyone was encouraging to one another, cheering each other on for each section they took and passed.”

Looking back, Christian said the dialogue in his audit ll and audit research classes were his favorite moments as part of the MACC program.

“Audit II with Scott Vandervelde, [Master of Accountancy academic coordinator and accounting professor], was one of my favorites because of the discussions that we had,” he said. “That class changed the way that I thought about auditing and made me excited to start my career. We learned not only auditing but learned important personal skills that apply outside of work and to life in general.

“I also really enjoyed audit research with Chad Stefanik, [Moore School accounting associate professor]. The cases that we researched were some that I had never thought of, and it was interesting to get down into the weeds of accounting rules to understand how they work. It showed me that accounting isn’t a black and white subject and that there are times we may encounter situations that require some critical thinking to find a solution.”

In the future, Christian sees himself in a managerial position at either Cherry Bekaert or another company.

“Since I just started my career, I’m excited to see what opportunities come my way,” he said. “Right now, I’m focused on gaining as many skills and as much experience as I can and enjoying life outside of school.”

-James Culbertson

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