University of Southern California

Allison Nash
Title
Expanding Her Options
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Graduating Year
2010
Undergrad Institution
University of California, Los Angeles
Hometown
Fairfax, VA

After studying history and political science as a UCLA undergraduate, Allison Nash says she just “sort of fell into business and consulting.” She discovered she loved the field, but felt limited in terms of career opportunities by her academic background.

In choosing the Leventhal School of Accounting for her master of accounting (MAcc) degree, Allison says she was able to take full advantage of a program that not only provides excellent preparation in accounting, but also is fully integrated into the larger USC Marshall School.

“We get a lot more elective courses than one might expect,” she says. “We take courses with MBAs. It’s not just about technical knowledge—which is important—but also much more flexibility.”

The ability to earn her master’s in 11 months was another factor in her decision to enroll. “Financially, it’s a good decision.”

Diversity of experience

Her own consulting experience already ranged from banking to the aerospace industry before she entered the MAcc program, so Allison appreciated the diverse background of Leventhal’s faculty and guest speakers.

“I loved all my classes,” she says. “I never wanted to miss one.”

Allison says one of her favorites was Strategy and Operations Through the CFO Lens, taught by John Owens. “Every other week, the CFO of a major company would come and speak,” Allison explains. “The CFO of Sony spoke to the class—and I guess he liked the experience, because he invited a group of students to tour Sony’s studios.”

In addition to Sony, guest speakers included CFOs from Dole, Edison, Northrop Grumman and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, among many others. “That’s actually one of the great things about the class, because they pulled CFOs from a lot of different industries.”

She also appreciated that Professor Owens is a partner at KPMG. “So in terms of having industry and practical experience, he’s still very much engaged in the accounting and audit community,” adds Allison.

Discovering her path

A self-described Navy brat, Allison lived in a number of locales—including Okinawa, Japan— growing up. After college, she traveled extensively as part of her consulting job, and she studied finance briefly while working in London. Those experiences also helped her figure out her desired career path.

“I came into the MAcc program knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” says Allison, whose goal is to be a partner in her firm. “I like the essence of what an auditor does,” she says. “They’re doing something for investors that the investors can’t otherwise do for themselves. I’m an independent party, making sure a company is representing its financials honestly.”

Her broad background will come in handy in her new role, as she’ll be called upon to work in a variety of industries.

“Although a master of accounting might seem narrow, it opens the doors to a breadth of opportunities,” Allison says. “And it’s only a year—a very well-spent year.”