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Jonathan Flora, Corporate Auditor at SECU

According to Jonathan Flora, the breadth of knowledge he has gained in the Jenkins MAC program, along with the diverse perspectives he has been exposed to, have made him a stronger leader with the ability to create organizational value at the State Employees Credit Union (SECU). 

Online MAC student Jonathan Flora visited Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland over spring break, where he and other Jenkins graduate students learned about organizational resiliency and experienced business and culture on a global scale.

Get to know Jonathan

Program: Online MAC
Start date: August 2020 (began ASAP program March 2020)
Graduation date:
May 2024
Current location: Raleigh, NC

Life before Jenkins

Work experience: 14 years 
Industry: Financial services
Roles: Mortgage officer, investment advisor representative, trust representative
Fields: Lending and financial advisory
Undergraduate education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. in history with an English minor

Career goals

The third generation in his family to work for SECU, Flora has specialized in a variety of roles there – from serving in a call center and completing car loans to obtaining his series licenses and certified financial planner (CFP) designation. Since moving into SECU’s auditing group two years ago, he has channeled his efforts toward creating value for his department. “I’ve been taking advantage of opportunities to lead within the audit department as an auditor-in-charge,” he says. “I also seek to blend my natural talents, such as writing and editing, into my daily activities to provide more value to my organization. I recently passed the last portion of the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification which, along with the Jenkins MAC degree, means I feel poised for an exciting period in my career.”

Why Accounting?

While working on a retirement planning project earlier in his career, Flora had the opportunity to work alongside several executives in the organization. One of them, who became a mentor to him, said something that stuck with him. “He told me that he used his Master of Accounting much more in career than his MBA – and that having a foundation in accounting was critical to understanding what was happening at an organization,” Flora recalls. “That was the first time I had ever considered the field – and seven years later, I contacted NC State about joining the program.”

[My mentor] told me that he used his Master of Accounting much more in career than his MBA – and that having a foundation in accounting was critical to understanding what was happening at an organization.

Why Jenkins? 

In addition to the overall flexibility of the program, which allowed Flora to take advantage of online delivery formats and complete the program at his own pace, Flora appreciated the opportunity to learn foundational accounting concepts through Jenkins’ ASAP program. “Because I studied history and English in undergrad, I didn’t take any classes in accounting. The ASAP program helped me get up-to-speed in the field and learn topics I would need to be successful in the MAC program,” he says.

Daily life

As a corporate auditor in the internal audit group at SECU, Flora works on formal reviews and audits of departments and business processes while seeking out cost-effective ways to provide member services. Additionally, he collaborates with SECU’s external and regulatory group and branch operations group, which increases his exposure to other audit processes across the organization. Using this information, he works on the development of written audit programs and examines the business in the context of standards, policies and control quality. 

Thanks to the flexibility of the Jenkins MAC program, Flora has increased or decreased his workload in a given semester in order to keep up with his other responsibilities. “I’ve taken as many as three classes during a semester and as few as one. This flexibility has been key to my progression in the program, as I can reasonably adapt in semester increments to predicted work and life duties,” he says.

The online delivery of the MAC program, along with his hybrid work schedule, also gives Flora flexibility to travel. “It enables me to spend a good bit of time in the mountains, which is where I’m from and where my family has a vacation home, so I can get my hiking fix in! I am also a skier, so in my free time I love to plan at least one big ski trip each year with my college friends,” he says. 

What makes it great

One thing Flora has enjoyed most about the MAC program is the opportunity to collaborate with peers from a variety of backgrounds. “The sheer variety of experiences MAC students bring to the program has been endlessly fascinating. I’ve had group partners who were straight out of undergrad and have a lot of exposure to analytics, I’ve worked with incredible women who own their own businesses and I’ve had group partners from other countries who have captivating stories about how they found their way to the Jenkins MAC program,” he says. “There is a richness to the program resulting from these different perspectives that has made it educational beyond the core curriculum. I’m overjoyed to find that I keep in touch with some of my classmates from over the years.”

Another thing that stands out is his experience in the ASAP program. “Some of the information I obtained in the ASAP program, which I began about four years ago, was so valuable that I’ve referred back to my notes and materials in the years since – even as recently as studying for my CIA exam and trying to remember how to account for interest on bonds or inventories, for example. 

Beyond the content, the ASAP program also allowed me to interact with the Jenkins staff. It was the first sign of how supportive and encouraging they would be during the remainder of my time in the MAC program. The professors are incredibly accomplished and collaborative, and it has felt so amazing to have access to their knowledge and guidance on such a personal level in each class.”

Career impact 

Flora credits his growth in the MAC program with landing a new role in the audit division at SECU. While taking Scott Showalter’s advanced audit class, he stumbled upon an internal job posting and decided to apply. “I couldn’t believe my luck as I applied for the new position, which was completely different from what I had been doing before. In my multiple rounds of interviews, I realized how equipped I was to speak about the perspective I could bring to the role. In addition to highlighting my own career accomplishments, I could speak fluidly about audit industry concerns on multiple fronts,” he remembers. “My accounting and financial management courses helped me understand critical financial challenges to the organization, and my accounting research and knowledge of IT risks and controls helped me demonstrate that if I were to be hired, my coworkers would not have to devote much time to bringing me up-to-speed.”

“My new boss in audit told me I was the fastest hire he’d ever made,” Flora continues. Once he joined the audit division, he continued to recognize how well the Jenkins MAC program had prepared him for the role. “I felt so prepared and empowered by my education in these pertinent areas – and I knew I was poised for success,” he says. “The program taught me how essential it is to be consciously intellectual about my approach to the accounting and audit fields, and helped me hone skills in thinking outside the box and being innovative and deliberate in my interactions with auditees and coworkers.”

Final thoughts

To round out his education, Flora participated in the study abroad program in Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland and dove into organizational resiliency. The immersion in the global environment not only brought course concepts to life, but allowed for a number of unique cultural experiences. “We had many opportunities to soak in the unique blend of global cultures and ways of thinking these Swiss cities celebrate,” he says. “The experience also introduced me, much like my other courses in Poole College of Management, to the diverse backgrounds and experiences of my classmates, whose approaches to learning enlivened our tours and lectures, our discussions with leaders in international organizations and our assignments before and after the trip.”

The opportunity to spend a few extra days in Europe topped the whole experience off. “Since this was my last class in the program, I decided to travel to Europe a few days early to go skiing as a graduation present to myself,” he says.

Based on his own positive experience abroad, he recommends that current and future students take advantage of all that Poole College has to offer. “Over and over again, my classmates and I acknowledged what once-in-a-lifetime experiences we were sharing through Poole Global. I cannot recommend study abroad enough.”

Get in touch

Connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn.

Learn more

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