By Arial Starks
Cam Cooper, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis for the Tennessee Titans, earned his bachelor’s in financial economics from Bethany College in 2014. During his undergraduate career, Cooper spent much of his time following his passion of playing football.
“I really enjoyed playing football, but once I realized there wasn’t going to be much of a career in football for me after college, I started thinking about what would be next in my career trajectory,” he said.
Cooper landed an internship the summer after graduation with the largest certified public accounting firm in the southern U.S. region, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. His experience there solidified that public accounting was where he wanted to take his career post-graduation, so he knew his next move would be to further his education.
“I wasn’t an accounting major in undergrad, so I started researching graduate programs that would help me get on that pathway,” Cooper explained. “I was fortunate to find that Vanderbilt Business has a specific program designed for people who did not come from a traditional accounting background.”
Cooper said Vanderbilt’s smaller class sizes, the location in a booming city like Nashville, and the opportunity to sit for the CPA exam in just 12 months, drew him to the program.
“For me coming from a small town in West Virginia, the class size of Owen felt just right,” Cooper said. “That community feel and the support of one another really helped me to find my personal brand.”
Before entering the Vanderbilt MAcc program, Cooper attended Big 4 Accounting Firm EY’s Emerging Leaders Summit. This was one of the first times he made contact with the firm where he would later find himself working full-time. The MAcc program began in August 2014, and Cooper hit the ground running with recruiting efforts. By January 2015, he had landed an internship with EY’s Assurance team.
After successfully completing his internship, EY’s Nashville office offered him the full-time position of Assurance Associate. He graduated from the MAcc program in May 2015 and started his career with EY in September. Cooper stayed with EY for roughly 3 years, spending much of his time there working with clients in the healthcare industry.
Cooper was promoted to Senior Assurance Associate with EY in 2017, a role he stayed in for a little over a year before pivoting to a more finance-based role with AllianceBernstein in November of 2018. He was hired by the firm as the Assistant Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis. He worked in that role for just shy of 2 years before being promoted to Vice President of FP&A.
In the Spring of 2021, Cooper was able to leverage the network he built during his time with EY and land an interview with the Tennessee Titans.
“A big part of the reason I am with the Tennessee Titans today is due to networking,” Cooper said. “The senior who worked with me on my main client at EY is now the CFO of the Titans. When my current position opened up, she thought of me. Showing up, working hard, and being a team member that people want to work with ultimately paid off.”
The skill set Cooper had gained over his roughly 6-year career was finally met with his passion for football.
“It’s crazy. Every day I feel like my dream is a reality,” Cooper shared. “I would have never thought there was an opportunity for me like this when I was at my small liberal arts school Bethany College, playing division III football. I could earn my master’s degree, get my CPA, and start a career in public accounting – and somehow that would lead to my landing a job with a professional sports team. Let alone I could work for an NFL team in a sport that I’ve been passionate about my entire life! Every day I try not to take walking into this building (Titans office) for granted.”
Cooper said his level of success would not have been possible without the foundational things he learned during his time at Vanderbilt Business.
“The MAcc program changed my life,” Cooper shared. “It put me on a path that set me up for so much success here in Nashville…The coursework helped me build the technical toolkit that I am still using to this day.”
Click through the timeline below to see Cam Cooper’s path to the promotion with the Tennessee Titans.