Ready to Take on the Business World
By Jess Clarke
After he graduates from the Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) program in May, Peyton Gilbert will start a full-time position with accounting firm Ernst & Young in Raleigh as an enterprise risk management (ERM) consultant.
That achievement is particularly impressive for someone who had taken just one accounting course — eight years earlier — before he enrolled in the MAC program in 2021.
An invaluable resource for Gilbert was the Jenkins ASAP Program, a self-paced curriculum of fundamental accounting courses for eligible non-accounting majors. He majored in exercise and sports science and economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He took ASAP courses for two months before he started MAC classes. “ASAP definitely helped prepare me with the basic accounting knowledge I needed,” he says. “It helped going straight into the MAC classes having that fresh knowledge.”
Gilbert gained more fresh knowledge — and practical, hands-on experience — throughout the MAC program.
I liked all the applied knowledge that came with the classes and doing a lot of real-world work. A lot of the case studies were simulations or about actual stories and cases.
“I appreciated being able to do more than hypothetical work,” he says. “I liked all the applied knowledge that came with the classes and doing a lot of real-world work. A lot of the case studies were simulations or about actual stories and cases.”
In a MAC practicum, Gilbert’s team did a case study and presentation about innovation in ERM. Through Poole’s Enterprise Risk Management Initiative, students talked with business executives around the country.
Gilbert’s business education extended beyond the United States border. He was the only accounting student on the Jenkins MBA study-abroad trip to Paris this year, led by Poole marketing professor David Henard.
In Paris, students took a course on negotiations. “It was great career preparation. It was a new topic for me, learning some of the terminology of negotiations,” Gilbert says. “I saw different mindsets with MBA students, too, a different thought process than accountants have…It was a wonderfully run trip.”
The study-abroad experience helped round out Gilbert’s accounting education.
The MAC degree “is a good steppingstone for me to get into the business world because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in business,” Gilbert says.
Pursuing the MAC program’s ERM concentration provided aha moments.
In classes, “We talked a lot about ethics and why there are auditors and people focusing on accurate financial reporting. Ethics and maintaining ethics is something I’m passionate about,” Gilbert says.
He credits the MAC career services staff with helping him find a position that’s suited to his passion — before he graduates. “They’ve done a great job making sure we are all set up and good to go” with jobs by the time they finish the MAC program, he says.
Associate Director of Student Programs and Career Services Kelly Hardy “was fantastic with helping me out,” Gilbert notes, with coaching on interviewing and building a resume, finding classrooms for virtual interviews and scheduling networking events.
He was able to tap what he learned in his ERM classes in his Ernst & Young interview. “Going through case studies, I gave answers that the senior managers I talked to said they agreed with. I think I will be able to go in, step up and elevate myself quickly,” Gilbert says. “Now I’ve got the knowledge-based confidence after having gone through the MAC program and done what I’ve done.”
Eventually, he may open an ERM consulting company for small businesses, which he thinks will multiply in North Carolina as entrepreneurship continues growing. “Everyone’s got a business idea and wants to put it on the table and do something with it,” says Gilbert, who lives in Chapel Hill. “I love North Carolina and want to give back to the state where I was raised.”