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Jenkins MAC Graduate Ricky McCoy ’17 Strengthens Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Ricky McCoy (MAC ’17) wanted a career in business. But after earning a business degree with a focus on marketing, his first positions weren’t exactly dream jobs.

“After a year and a half of doing entry-level sales positions, cold calling, and prospecting for leads, I realized that I absolutely hated it,” he says. “I started brainstorming. How can I stay in the field of business and do something that gives me more flexibility and more options, something I enjoy more?”

A friend who worked for public accounting firm EY got McCoy thinking about accounting. 

“I had never considered accounting, but it would keep me in business,” he says. “I could look at business from a different lens or different perspectives. And it would give me some flexibility down the line.”

Soon, McCoy enrolled in the Jenkins Master of Accounting program. The degree has led him to a satisfying career, and also provided opportunities to pursue his passions and live out his values.

‘Fundamental and foundational’ learning

During classes, McCoy learned much more than just accounting.

The curriculum the faculty taught absolutely included fundamental and foundational things that I still carry with me every day.

“The curriculum the faculty taught absolutely included fundamental and foundational things that I still carry with me every day,” he says.

Working in teams with classmates from many backgrounds — including students from other countries — prepared McCoy for a professional world where most work is done as part of a team. He also polished his presentation skills, sharpened his critical thinking and learned to tackle challenging problems with an outside-the-box perspective.

After graduating with his MAC, McCoy went to work in EY’s Raleigh office, starting his career in the Technology Risk Practice. After about two years, he earned a promotion to senior business consultant. In 2021 he took a job as senior associate, services delivery program manager, at SAS, a large business analytics software company.

“I really wanted to start with a public accounting firm, just because of the exposure and variety that you get with clients and different industries,” he says. “You work on a specific project one week, and the following week could be something totally different.”

Diversity and inclusion focus

In addition to a demanding and satisfying career, he also found opportunities at EY to pursue his passions and values. He led the EY Raleigh Black Professionals Network (BPN) and was also a mentor in the firm’s College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence) volunteer program at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh.

“There’s so many avenues that EY has for their employees to go down, especially with the diversity and inclusiveness initiatives, volunteerism and community programs,” he says. 

The BPN — one of several groups in the company focused on diverse employee groups — provides opportunities for networking and professional development. 

“Everyone who has any kind of interest in this group, or supporting this group, is more than welcome to join,” McCoy says. “It gives you a chance to connect with people that have similar interests, goals or passions.”

The network also provides EY insights about how to create and nurture a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

“They’ve made a lot of changes and improved upon a lot of the things they do in terms of diversity and inclusion, specifically based on a lot of the feedback they get from their Black Professionals Network, and all the other groups as well,” McCoy says.

Community impact

McCoy says EY has also given him a chance to give back to the community, and especially to young people who face some of the same challenges he did finding a fulfilling career path.

“Being a minority, I faced a lot of challenges through school,” he says. “Some of those challenges stemmed from my background and lack of resources, which is why I choose to volunteer now as a working professional.”

During monthly sessions at Athens Drive, McCoy and his colleagues have provided guidance to students about a variety of topics — applying for college, choosing majors, getting scholarships and more.

“I didn’t have a lot of help, assistance or mentors to guide me,” McCoy says. “I want to be involved in diversity and inclusion efforts combined with mentorship and recruiting, to give back to students who may be underserved or lacking resources.”

The Jenkins MAC has put McCoy on a path where he can continue to do that.