Alla (Karachun) Aynbund (BBA, ’07) returned to her alma mater last November as a panelist for “Ensuring Integrity,” the audit conference held annually at the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity. Now in its 16th year, the conference brings together auditors, regulators, standards setters, and preparers to discuss current topics in auditing.
Alla, a Certified Public Accountant who is a Director in the Financial Services Cyber Risk and Regulatory practice at PwC, spoke on the future of the auditing profession. She said the profession is much broader than popularly believed.
“There’s a misconception that the career prospects for accounting majors are limited to becoming a tax professional or a financial statement auditor,” she says, pointing to her own career as evidence to the contrary: “I started working at PwC shortly after earning my BBA. I have my CPA license but the work I do has nothing to do with providing assurance or tax services. “
Alla, who started in internal audit, has consulted on a wide variety of areas as they relate to risk and controls. She’s helped clients with everything from remediating regulatory matters to transforming internal audit departments in order to keep pace with technological advancements and the increasing demands of stakeholders and investors. She says today’s accounting majors need a healthy appetite for data analytics: “It’s a hot topic and very much in demand.”
Alla says the most important skills she gained from her Zicklin training were analysis and problem solving. “In my classes, we were taught to ask, ‘What is the problem?’ and ‘What is the solution?’” she explains. “I use that kind of thinking at work every day — along with the oral and written communication skills my Zicklin professors taught me.”
Future accounting professionals, Alla sums up, should keep a flexible mindset: “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Not everything is black and white — it’s OK to not have all the answers,” she says. “Be willing to learn. You have valuable skills that are transferable to almost anything you do, so you should feel confident that people along the way will help you.”