Spotlight Story

Jessica Agee Easily Leaps from MPAc to PwC

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by Joanna Corman

While she was earning her bachelor’s degree in agricultural and resource economics from 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 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. She also got married just after starting the graduate accountancy program.

“I was drawn to the UC Davis MPAc program because you learn the technical skills from the greatest accountants in the field,” says Agee. “At the same time, they put a huge emphasis on polishing us as professionals, training us to be great communicators, presenters and business people.”

Agee says she chose PwC because of its “warm and welcoming” culture and the potential to move up within 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 specialities include banking and capital markets, and power and utilities.

She also is analyzing clients’ business practices. Working in an international Big-Four firm, Agee says she can use her experience with a variety of companies and industries to act as a consultant. Teaming up with colleagues, she is identifying deficiencies or inefficiencies that can hold businesses back, and suggesting 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,” says Agee. 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.

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. For example, she says, 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 if I was doing something I was good at, but only because if I was succeeding at it, I could 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 also because you’re adding value.”

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