While still earning her bachelor’s degree in agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, Jessica Agee took a long, hard look at the recovering economy to help guide her future. She wanted to use her economics background in a career that would weather job market fluctuations. Becoming a certified public accountant fit the bill.
Agee, a member of the charter class of the Graduate School of Management’s Master of Professional Accountancy program, graduated in June 2013; two months later she started as an assurance associate at the downtown Sacramento office of Big-Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Agee chose to apply these skills at PwC for its “warm and welcoming” culture and the potential to move up in the firm to become a partner.
“In public accounting, the team atmosphere is so important,” she says. “The successful teams are ones that work together well, and that’s all a personality match. … I felt like I could see myself putting in the hard hours, and that it would be a good fit for me.”
At PwC, Agee’s work involves financial audits in the consumer industry products services line. She verifies accounts and financial statements submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Her industry specialties include banking and capital markets, and power and utilities.
She also analyzes clients’ business practices. Working in an international Big-Four firm allows Agee to use her experience with a variety of companies and industries to act as a consultant. Collaborating with colleagues, she identifies deficiencies or inefficiencies that can hold businesses back, and suggests improvements to increase profitability.
“The professional skills I learned in the MPAc program—team work, communication, flexibility, rising to new challenges—have been most critical to my success at PwC,” she says. She also credits the program with helping her pass all four parts of the CPA exam within nine months of graduating, and on her first attempt. She received her license in October 2014.
In the long term, Agee hopes use her business skills to help fight poverty in developing nations through innovation and injecting technology into economies rather than flooding them with aid money. One example: producing affordable equipment for farmers in developing countries to fuel sustainable growth.
Agee’s interest in working in developing economies comes from her parents. Her mother is a surgical oncologist in Salt Lake City and her father raises horses.
“My parents have been such an inspiration in terms of giving back and generosity,” she says. “I realize that I would be happiest doing something I am good at, but only because if by succeeding at it, I can help somebody else or improve another situation. That’s where the most satisfaction in life comes from: being able to be happy with what you’re doing because you’re doing it well—and because you’re adding value.”
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